Abortion rights: what next?
Safe, legal abortion services are still available in about half of the states in the US, including Oregon. Legislators have severely restricted or effectively criminalized abortion in 24 states.
If you are a person who can be impregnated and live in an anti-abortion state, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of being forced to give birth or being criminally prosecuted if you help someone else get a safe abortion or get one yourself.
- The Digital Defense Fund has an excellent primer on privacy (online and in-person), with useful suggestions for minimizing and mitigating risk.
- Use a VPN or incognito search pages to look up information about abortion options to minimize the risk of your searches being tracked.
- Consider getting long-term birth control such as implants or an IUD (note that no method of birth control has a 100% success rate).
- Keep Plan B birth control on hand (it may be purchased over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription, and may be available from online retailers like Amazon).
- Learn how to get and use Plan C for a medication abortion. This website has information about how to obtain it: plancpills.org. (Some state laws prohibit sending Plan C by mail.)
- Delete the data collected by any cycle tracking apps, and then delete the apps from your devices.
- Don't use any messaging apps, including social media messaging, to communicate about abortion; companies (such as Facebook) may turn records over to law enforcement and the evidence may aid in arrest and prosecution.
- When seeking medical care for a possible pregnancy, ask about the provider's policy on releasing records to law enforcement; HIPAA permits (but does not require) disclosure when a court order or subpoena is issued.
- Don't click on any ads that refer to pregnancy, birth control, or abortion. They may not go to legitimate sites, and the ad service may collect and track your data.
- When looking for local resources, be aware that anti-abortion organizations often use deceptive marketing and language. "Crisis pregnancy centers" and "pregnancy resource centers" are fronts for anti-abortion organizations. Some are promoted by state governments.
- Location data may be tracked and transferred without your knowledge. If you visit a clinic, consider not taking your phone or other devices.
- Pay for any services with cash when possible. Bank and credit cards records may be subpoenaed by law enforcement.
This is not legal advice, and has not been reviewed by attorneys. Taking these steps will not necessarily shield you or people who help you from criminal prosecution; please contact NARAL or Planned Parenthood in your state to get more information about the legal situation where you live.
Access to safe abortion will always be available to people with the resources to travel and pay cash. People without those resources may have to risk their health and freedom to get an abortion.
The situation is dynamic, as courts are responding to filings that would block or allow anti-abortion laws to take effect, and some local authorities have stated they will refuse to enforce bans. When in effect, laws in these states will have no exceptions in the case of rape or incest (check this link for most current information): Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, & Wyoming. (Most laws permit abortion if the mother's life is at risk.)
Whether or not you live in a state where abortion is currently safe, you can help ensure that abortion is available to all:
- Contact your state's NARAL or Planned Parenthood branch and ask how to get involved in local organizing.
- Consider joining activist organizations like Advocates for Youth that work to educate young people on sexual health, reproductive options, and abortion access.
- Vote for legislators at the local and national level who promise to fight for abortion access.
- Learn how medication abortions work and share that information (safely and discreetly) with others, especially friends and relatives in anti-abortion states.
- Learn about the fight for abortion access before Roe v. Wade, and how people organized to help each other. The film, Jane: An Abortion Service, is one place to start.
Last updated 8/10/22