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Category Archives: Legal Research

Abortion Surveillance After Roe

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project Report, May 24, 2022: “Abortion rights will soon be a thing of the past for millions of Americans. At the time of publication, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion shows a majority of justices are poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and any federal constitutional right to abortion. But repealing a half century of reproductive rights won’t transport Americans back to 1973, it will take us to a far darker future, one where antiquated abortion laws are enforced with cutting edge technology. Sweeping abortion laws are already on the books in many states, primed to go into effect the moment the Supreme Court’s decision is published. But those sprawling bans won’t enforce themselves. Police, prosecutors, and private anti-abortion litigants will weaponize existing American surveillance infrastructure to target pregnant people and use their health data against them in a court of law. This isn’t speculation—it’s already happening. Abortion opponents surveil pregnant people and abortion providers to chill their reproductive freedoms. Hospitals track pregnant patients with suspicionless drug testing. while police harness surveillance to enforce existing abortion laws. Nearly every aspect of pregnant peoples’ online lives is already targeted—including search histories, online purchases, and messages—while cellphone location data is used to track their movements in physical space. If this is the state of surveillance today, in an America with abortion rights, what surveillance will we see in a post-Roe future? Lawmakers will likely pressure police and prosecutors to use all of the tracking tools they have to target health providers, pregnant people, and anyone helping them to access care. And with all mass surveillance, there will be countless bystanders targeted, too, those who will be jailed because of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and inaccurate data. This is a bleak forecast for the future, but there are still steps that providers, lawmakers, and members of the public can take to protect pregnant people from this looming surveillance state, if only we act now.

Current Analog Surveillance of Pregnant People – For 49 years, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey promised pregnant people significant reproductive autonomy. Although states dramatically expanded abortion access restrictions in the decades since Roe was decided, its core holding—granting pregnant people the right to determine whether to seek abortion prior to viability—remained a key pillar of American constitutional law. However, abortion rights have often been far more limited in practice than they appear on paper. Non-state actors use surveillance as one of many tactics to harass pregnant people and providers, chilling their exercise of reproductive rights. Activists film and publicly identify abortion seekers and medical staff. They map patients’ social networks and contact their families, leading to familial coercion and even violence. They track the license plates of people entering clinics.  One anti-abortion advocate even created a website listing the names, addresses, phone numbers, and photographs of reproductive healthcare providers…labeling each doctor as “working,” “wounded,” or “fatality.” While courts later ruled this website was an unlawful threat, all the other surveillance described was perfectly legal, even in a world where Casey and Roe remained the law of the land. It’s impossible to know just how many pregnant people were intimidated not to pursue abortion care through surveillance, even though it’s their right…”

How DHS Massive Biometrics Database Will Supercharge Surveillance and Threaten Rights

Immigration Defense Project – HART Attack: “The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is building a $6.158 billion-dollar, next-wave biometric database that will vastly expand its surveillance capabilities and supercharge the deportation system. The Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System (HART) will collect, organize, and share invasive data on over 270 million people (including juveniles), with… Continue Reading

The Surveillance State Is Primed for Criminalized Abortion

Wired – “A new report lays out existing US policing capabilities that can easily be repurposed to monitor pregnant people. In the three weeks since a draft opinion leaked from the United States Supreme Court promising to roll back the federal constitutional right to abortion in the United States, reproductive rights activists and privacy advocates… Continue Reading

DOJ snapshot of Jan 6 investigation as of Friday, May 6, 2022

DOJ: “Friday, May 6, 2022, marked 16 months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol that disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results. The government continues to investigate losses that resulted from the breach of the Capitol, including damage to the Capitol building and grounds,… Continue Reading

Capitol attack panel to hold six public hearings as it aims to show how Trump broke law

The Guardian UK – “Panel aims to publicly outline the potentially unlawful schemes that tried to keep the former president in office despite his defeat  The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to stage six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the… Continue Reading

The Future of Abortions in America – An access map

The Cut and New York have removed their paywall for articles about finding abortion care. Find abortion services near you. How to have a medication abortion. How to protect yourself when seeking an abortion. Don’t trust DIY abortion advice on Tiktok. How to get help for your abortion via mutual aid networks. The crisis pregnancy… Continue Reading

Understanding the Russo-Ukrainian War: A Guide From War on the Rocks

“We at War on the Rocks have curated this list of articles and podcasts to help you gain a deeper understanding of the history, drivers, background, and events of Russia’s massive assault on Ukraine. Whether you are a soldier or a student, a policymaker or a pundit, a teacher or a techie, this will be useful… Continue Reading

8 Nonfiction Books About Censorship

Book Riot: “If there’s one thing to love about Book Riot, it’s that contributors and editors around here are excellent at covering censorship and book banning attempts. From historical topics like the history of Nazi book burning, to heartwarming attempts to rectify wrongs like the Brooklyn Library offering teens across the U.S. access to banned… Continue Reading

How much longer can Google own the internet?

“The synonym for search finds itself in big antitrust trouble. This story is part of a Recode series about Big Tech and antitrust. Over the last several weeks, we’ve covered what’s happening with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google. “There’s a new Big Tech antitrust bill in town, and this one is especially painful for… Continue Reading

A wild new court decision would blow up much of the government’s ability to operate

Vox: “The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued yet another astonishing decision on Wednesday. Jarkesy v. SEC seeks to dismantle much of the system the federal government uses to enforce longstanding laws and to determine who is eligible for federal benefits. And it does so in defiance of numerous Supreme Court… Continue Reading

$2 Trillion, or 70%, Pandemic Wealth Gain of Nation’s 740 Richest

Americans For Tax Fairness: “American billionaires saw their collective net worth climb by $2 trillion, or 70%, during the first two years of the pandemic to a staggering $5 trillion, according to Forbes data analyzed by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF). [See table below and all data here] But none of that wealth growth—the main… Continue Reading