Generally speaking, I have the least concern about my privacy of anyone in my family. I am an open book and don’t mind being a straight shooter about what I think and believe. I do have concerns about data privacy for any pregnant women who does a google search related to her physical condition.
Before the recent overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court – pregnancy crisis centers outnumbered actual abortion clinics by 3 to 1. Like so many issues with data privacy, there is now a definite concern about what could potentially happen with the information these organizations collect – especially in the states with near total bans on abortion and bounties offered to ordinary citizens for reporting on other citizens.
In the past decade, a new data-collection has been rolled out in pregnancy crisis centers. Time magazine reviewed two dozen pregnancy-center privacy disclosures and although many reference HIPAA as well as provide an assurance of broad data privacy, the promises have no legal foundation. Data collected in a REAL medical clinic is not the same as the rules that apply to these places. They are un-regulated by federal law. They are NOT subject to federal privacy laws.
Most of these pregnancy-center networks use data-collection interfaces that can track a woman who interacts with their organization – whether it is in person, on the telephone or on their website. One 24-hour hotline collects the name, location and other demographic information related to the caller. Some even will ask outright what the woman plans to do with her pregnancy. The technologies collect and centralize vast amounts of people’s private information and there is no clear indication of what use this information will be put to.
In cases filed under the new state abortion ban laws, lawyers could subpoena information from pregnancy centers. There is a precedent for using such data to arrest or threaten legal action against women. Since the advent of Roe v Wade, there have still been more than 1,700 instances where law enforcement took some legal action against women in cases related to their pregnancies according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. In fact, internet search histories and information gathered by actual medical professionals was even presented as evidence.
Those who could be motivated by bounties might include the pregnancy-center staff, any of their partners, vendors or contractors. After all, the staff that works in that kind of advocacy work does so because they believe strongly that an abortion is equal to murder.
~ information in this blog includes content from Time magazine’s article titled “Compromised State” in which a Time investigation found anti-abortion pregnancy centers may expose women to new legal risks. The article was written by Abigail Abrams and Vera Bergengruen.