Friday, June 24, 2022

No, It's Worse

Warning: this is not a post about education.

If you are of a Certain Age, you may look at the overturning of Roe as a return to an earlier day. "We've been here before," you may be thinking. "Clean and safe abortions for the wealthy, unsafe back alley abortions for the poor, and horrifying DIY attempts by the truly desperate." 

And that would be bad enough, but what we're looking at now is so much worse.

It's not just that 21st century anti-abortion bills are so much stricter than the old school ones, kicking in mere weeks after conception based on a fictional "heartbeat" and allowing no exceptions for rape or incest.

No, the new scary part is that we now live in a time of unprecedented surveillance. Amazon and Facebook know you're pregnant before you do. Your every move is tracked, your every online search recorded. That period tracker on your phone? That digital record of everything you buy in the store? Health data. Friend lists. Location data. Will that be protected, sold or subpoenaed

On top of all the information captured about you, anti-abortion legislatures are figuring out how to extend their reach. Make it illegal to travel out of state to get an abortion. That cool Texas trick of giving everyone else the private right of action, so that if someone even thinks you've gotten an abortion, they can personally sue you and everyone who might have helped you in any way.

And will all of that reach create more pressure for medical professionals to stay away from anything having at all to do with a fetus? Will the kind of care needed for miscarriages and threatening issues like ectopic pregnancies or fetal defects that threaten the woman's life-- will any of that be available. Our mortality rate for pregnant women (particularly Black ones) is already embarrassing. This will not help.

States could team mandatory pregnancy with some kind of support. States that want to ban abortion could team that ban up with an aggressive program of great pre- and post-natal care, free delivery services, parental leave, infant care, free diapers, free formula. But the states that are first in the abortion ban parade are also the ones with the highest infant mortality rate

It's almost as if this is not at all about the babies.

All of this is why today's reversal is not just about abortion or pregnancy, but about autonomy and--surprise--privacy, because states are ready to absolutely trample the privacy and autonomy of any woman who even looks like she might be pregnant. A state cannot enforce abortion bans without inflicting the grossest and most extreme invasions of privacy (countdown to vaginal inspection to determine if there was a fetus in there previously). 

So don't turn your clock back fifty years, because we aren't going backwards. We're going forward into a future that is worse than what we saw decades ago. 


  1. I'm also left thinking about how much more data on our other actions exists; if you're pregnant and you miscarry, but had a beer before you found out, or ate sushi, or did one of the other "cardinal sins" of pregnancy, they are opening the door to going after you for that (they definitely already go after addicts who use and miscarry, even though those two things don't have a clear causal link). So all that digital surveillance we warn kids about, especially around underage drinking, is going to apply to women...indefinitely.

    1. Yes, I hadn't thought of that, but you are sadly correct.

  2. I saw a tweet from a Native person who said why don't their sovereign nations set up clinics for reproductive healthcare. Then scouts couldn't 't touch them.

    1. AOC suggested setting up clinics on federal land. Biden said no.

  3. As part of my unit on reproduction, I cautioned my students about those period trackers that do not guarantee privacy. My students were shocked that their data could be sold or easily obtained.