Statistics show populations of color endure socioeconomic challenges more than other communities, which directly correlates to the inability to access reproductive health resources. 

[Illustration by Jaycee Felkins]

The Supreme Court’s decision to revoke Roe v. Wade has ushered in a series of consequences.

One of those consequences is an infringement on our right to privacy. The Court’s decision has emboldened law enforcement to criminalize citizens for their choices over their bodily autonomy. It has placed healthcare workers at risk of violence for providing necessary services. And it has exposed Black and Brown communities to more life-threatening dangers because of the lack of access to adequate healthcare. 

Statistics show populations of color endure socioeconomic challenges more than other communities, which directly correlates to the inability to access reproductive health resources. 

“When we look at the status of wages as well as … single-parent households or we look at the rate of income levels for houses that have … women and/or people of color, the numbers speak for themselves,” said Malea Chavez, Executive Director of the Women’s Building in San Francisco. The Women’s Building is a Bay Area organization that supports women by offering support and empowerment through its mission of “self-determination, gender equality, and social justice.”

Chavez explained how difficult it is for people of color, who already suffer through hardships, to find resources that care for their reproductive health. “If they need to bear the expense of moving to a state that will provide that support or even traveling to and from, taking time off, getting childcare, all of these things go into accessing resources,” Chavez said. “Because in many cases people may feel like they don’t have a choice.” 

Low-income communities often have less access to contraceptives and safe and legal abortions. In this era of post-Roe, as Black and Brown populations seek basic healthcare, their safety is jeopardized by the criminal justice system, as it always has been. Therefore, this article serves as an essential guide that will, hopefully, aid in the protection of privacy of those impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling, and include healthcare tips that are cost-effective and accessible. 

While the right to privacy is written into the constitution, the right to maintain that “privacy” is conditional. Big-tech companies, such as Google or Apple, have implemented software that collects user data, oftentimes unknowingly to the user. Research has shown that Google stores location data on Android devices and iPhones, even if the privacy settings on the device block the sites from doing so, according to an investigation conducted by the Associated Press (AP). Some google apps automatically log time-stamped location data.

Data surveillance, location tracking, history search collection software, and much more have made sensitive information easily accessible to anyone who is searching.

“While people are concerned about pregnancy tracking apps … what we’re seeing right now is people’s phones, because you’re texting with a friend, or you’re using Facebook Messenger or maybe WhatsApp or some service, your phone is that place that law enforcement is going to first try to figure out what you’re doing,” said Cindy Cohn from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an organization built with the purpose of “defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.” “We’ve already had a few cases where people have been prosecuted for seeking abortions, either before Roe where people sought them too late. Or now post-Roe.” 

This type of invasion of privacy was demonstrated in the Nebraska case of, then-17-year-old, Celeste Burgess, and her mother, Jessica Burgess. Police subpoenaed Facebook messages distributed between the two individuals, that were assumed to be private, to prosecute them for abortion-related crimes.

Protecting your Information

First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind to never turn over any devices to law enforcement without warrants and to keep these devices password protected at all times. This means turning off facial recognition and Touch ID as the main form for logging into devices.

Secondly, even if information is accessible through warrants, it is still crucial to use protected online chatting with end-to-end encryption. Unless your conversations are end-to-end encrypted, it is safe to assume your messages are being tracked, recorded, and have the risk of implicating you. According to the Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD) webpage, a project of the EFF, encryption protects information from bad actors, governments, and service providers. 

“Don’t use something like Facebook Messenger,” said Cohn. “Something like WhatsApp or Signal where the company providing the service to you doesn’t have a copy of your messages.” Signal is the most recommended instant messaging app as it provides more privacy and does not share any information with third parties.

Using specific unsecure web browsers has potential consequences as well. Therefore, the EFF recommends using browsers like DuckDuckGo, Brave, and Firefox. Additionally, applying a private browser for internet searches prevents sites from tracking your visits and installing VPNs that protect from third-party surveillance through an unprotected WI-FI network, is another necessary precaution.

Creating new email addresses for confidential information through free email services other than Gmail is beneficial. Services like Protonmail and Tutanota provide privacy protection and use less tracking software. 

Overall, double-checking privacy settings to ensure that the device does not track the history of places you’ve visited is most advised. While apps may automatically record your location, your phone’s location settings can be turned off. If an individual is visiting locations that risk putting them in danger, especially in states with near-total abortion bans, the best recommendation, if possible, is to leave all electronic devices at home or anywhere far from the destination.

To remain vigilant of every potential danger that may arise is difficult and, unfortunately, until better legislation is enforced that protects citizens’ right to privacy, everyone is susceptible to harm. We have already witnessed law enforcement go to extreme lengths to gain access to private information, but luckily there are resources available to help protect against that. More guides are available on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website, both in English and Spanish. There are also videos available that teach about the same topics of privacy protection. 

“Privacy isn’t something that’s just an individual set of decisions,” said Cohn. “It’s about all the people you interact with and how your actions can impact them and their actions impact you.” 

To learn more, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation website below: