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Verizon alters texting policy after protest

NEW YORK - Verizon Wireless, the second-biggest US mobile-phone company, will allow members of an abortion rights group to sign up for a text-messaging program, reversing a decision.

Verizon Wireless had rejected a request by NARAL Pro-Choice America to sign up members to get text messages that encourage support of abortion rights legislation. That decision was "incorrect," a Verizon Wireless spokesman, Jeffrey Nelson, said yesterday.

The texts were originally prohibited under a Verizon Wireless policy that prevented "controversial" content from being sent over its messaging service, NARAL said. While Verizon customers were able to sign up to receive the messages on NARAL's website, they couldn't register by sending a text message to the organization.

"Upon learning about this situation, senior Verizon Wireless executives immediately reviewed the decision and determined it was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy," Nelson said in an e-mail.

NARAL, a nonprofit based in Washington, said Verizon was suppressing the organization's speech and urged members to call Verizon and complain about the restrictions.

"It's about people who specifically request to be a part of our text-message program, and Verizon is censoring our message," a spokesman said before Verizon changed its position.

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