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Crisis Pregnancy Centers + Data Harvesting


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In the lead-up to Trump's election and during his wing-nut reign, I read a lot of shocking and disgusting things, in the "Can you believe he DID THAT?"  category.  

This however, is in an entirely different category of shocking. It's dystopian Brave New World shit, and I'm speechless and gobsmacked because the legislation is underway, already happening in some places.

This is so awful I'm literally having trouble processing how horrible this is: CPCs (Crisis Pregnancy Centers) formalizing the harvesting and utilization of data from women who contact them or are forced to contact them in the process of seeking an abortion. CPCs, of course, are not medical entities or licensed healthcare providers and are not bound by HIPAA.  (for non-US folks, HIPAA rigorously protects the privacy of medical information)

Link to the article: Anti-abortion movement's big plan: Supercharged "crisis pregnancy centers" and data harvesting  Anti-choice activists roll out bold new strategy to register and track abortion-seekers. Why do they want to know?


A bill introduced in the Oklahoma state legislature requires abortion seekers to contact a hot line to be "counseled" by "care agents" about abortion alternatives. This bill provides for the state Department of Health to assign each abortion-seeker who calls the hotline a "unique identifying number." Abortion providers would be required to obtain and record that number, which would also be registered in a DHS database. 

There are other bills being introduced in other states using essentially identical language. 

The Women's Law Project is filing a brief, warning "that legislation like Oklahoma's seems intended to establish a closed system in which pregnant people are compelled to interact with state-funded CPCs, which might in turn share information with government agencies or other entities."

Tara Murtha is the  director of strategic communications at the Women's Law Project.  

As the threat of Roe v. Wade's reversal looms, Murtha and other reproductive rights advocates caution that two major anti-abortion strategies — to ban most abortions and to vastly expand CPC funding and influence — are now converging.  Given the fact that CPCs already collect significant amounts of data, the Alliance brief continues, "The potential for privacy violations is profound and the consequences, if not addressed, could be dire — especially if abortion is criminalized and police investigations and state prosecutions become, as expected, common once again." 

The article goes on to detail how CPCs can be part of large anti-abortion entities utilizing extremely sophisticated strategies involving data harvesting and collection.  For example, "utilizing methods like geofencing that capture cell phone data in specified locations. Using that technology, CPCs can literally send text messages to patients who are sitting in abortion-clinic waiting rooms."

This is really the crux of the issue that should terrify all women: "Last year's Alliance report warned that CPCs' 'extensive use of sophisticated digital strategies to collect and mine client data' might combine to disastrous effect in light of new laws like Texas's SB8, with its provision allowing private citizens to sue anyone they believe was involved in an abortion after six weeks. 'CPCs are now positioned to surveil pregnant people and feed their data to vigilante anti-abortion hunters anywhere in the country,' the report suggested."

Note that under SB8  referenced above, the person who is sued has no legal recourse.  None. 

There are women who miscarried, were charged with murdering their fetus and sent to prison.This type of sophisticated data harvesting could lead to a scenario where  a women calls a phone number for an abortion clinic and is redirected to the phone line for a CPC. She'll be monitored to see if she ultimately has a full term baby or no baby.  If she miscarries...

This is all terrifying, horrible, and it's only going to get worse, because "'The CPC industry is basically being onboarded as a government program at this point,' Murtha said, noting that government support has helped CPCs outnumber abortion clinics by three to one nationwide, with disparities that are three to four times higher in some states."

Edited by Howl
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This is horrifying. It reminds me of women in certain South American countries who have been sentenced to prison after miscarriages for being “convicted” of abortions (which shouldn’t be considered crimes anyway).

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While I find this to be completely horrific, I have a feeling most people won’t care. Many people only care about something if it directly affects them. If Facebook does this people would flip out. Because everyone uses Facebook. But this probably won’t bring as much public outrage as it should. Which sucks.

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Well, that's some dystopian garbage right there. Thank you for bringing it to our attention even though it makes me feel like throwing up. I'm sure Texas will jump right on that.

I say if that thing passes, every woman in America needs to flood their hotline with fake consulting phone calls. In Texas, the the right wing nuts had to take down a "reporting" site because they got thousand  of reports that Gov. Abbott was seen driving young women to abortion clinics, etc. And one thing about these nut jobs is that they generally suck at technology. 

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3 hours ago, starfish said:

And one thing about these nut jobs is that they generally suck at technology. 

Very true.

They are also incredibly bad at understanding the principle of unforeseen consequences, which is a corollary of "Fuck around and find out."

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I've been thinking on this and I'm wondering, what's to keep a sneaky FJite from opening her own CPC and trying to subterfuge the whole thing? I wonder how hard it could be. A CPC isn't a medical facility. These nutjob legislators are just throwing money at them and requiring no oversight. From what I can tell, CPCs are generally run by morons. hmmmmm

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24 minutes ago, starfish said:

what's to keep a sneaky FJite from opening her own CPC and trying to subterfuge the whole thing?

Just the money. If you have the finances, it seems like it wouldn't be that difficult.

CPCs may be legal but they're also unethical. Given the lack of oversight or regulation, how could a fake CPC be illegal?


Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that seek to intercept women with unintended pregnancies who might be considering abortion. Their mission is to prevent abortions by persuading women that adoption or parenting is a better option. They strive to give the impression that they are clinical centers, offering legitimate medical services and advice, yet they are exempt from regulatory, licensure, and credentialing oversight that apply to health care facilities. Because the religious ideology of these centers’ owners and employees takes priority over the health and well-being of the women seeking care at these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options. Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health.


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