Protecting Your Privacy During Abortion: Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Published on
July 6, 2023
An outdoor sign with the word "private" in white, blocky letters. Protect your personal information with privacy-focused tools and systems when undergoing abortion procedures.
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Getting an abortion in the United States today can be hard. This is a tough pill to swallow as someone who has grown up in a world where Roe v Wade always existed. If you live in one of the 14 states that have banned nearly all forms of abortion, it can be almost impossible.

Since I wrote my first article about how to help pregnant people needing an abortion after Roe v Wade was overturned, lawmakers have continued to try and pass even more restrictive laws across the country.

States like Texas and Mississippi already had laws on the books waiting to go into effect the moment Roe v Wade was overturned. And with the activation of these laws has come punitive consequences not just for the person receiving the abortion but their healthcare providers and friends or family who may have helped. So, how can you keep your abortion - or friend's - private?

Today, I want to talk to you about safeguarding your information and maintaining confidentiality when seeking an abortion. By following the practices outlined below, you can take control of your privacy and ensure that your sensitive data remains confidential.

Understanding the Importance of Privacy

Keeping your abortion private is a fundamental right. It's healthcare, after all, and we should all be free to discuss and take part in the appropriate course of action to maintain our physical and mental health with our healthcare providers.

Unfortunately, the landscape around abortion has shifted dramatically, and you'll need to take proactive steps to safeguard your personal information. Protecting yourself requires understanding the tools and systems that provide privacy. This includes communication encryption (for example, the end-to-end encryption offered by WhatsApp), using strong passwords, and awareness of how your data is being used.

Doctor with arms crossed, holding a stethoscope. He's prepared to help you make informed decisions and keep your abortion private. Experienced in reproductive health and an ally for those seeking safe abortion services.

Choose a Trustworthy Healthcare Provider

When seeking abortion services, choosing a reputable and trustworthy healthcare provider is vital. Research and select a provider that adheres to strict privacy policies and has a strong track record of protecting patient confidentiality. Pay close attention to how a healthcare provider handles your personal health information.

  • Are they checking to make sure they're speaking to the correct patient, family member, or partner out of earshot of other patients and visitors?
  • Are patient documents always kept with their providers and not on a desk or table, inviting prying eyes?
  • Are you hearing personnel gossip about other patients when they think they aren't being watched?

These are the behaviors you should pay attention to when trying to choose a facility you can trust.

1. Confidentiality Agreements

Before receiving any medical services, including abortion, ask about the confidentiality agreements at the healthcare facility. These agreements are legally binding, prohibiting the disclosure of your information without your explicit consent.

2. Anonymous Appointments

Some healthcare facilities offer anonymous appointments for people seeking abortion services. These appointments allow you to use a fake name or remain anonymous during your visit, providing additional privacy.

3. Payment Options

When paying for abortion services, consider using payment methods that enhance your privacy. Cash payments or prepaid debit cards can help prevent your financial information from being linked to the procedure. When using insurance, make sure your provider respects your confidentiality and does not share sensitive details about their services for use on insurance statements.

Online Privacy

In the digital age, being mindful of your online privacy when researching abortion-related information or seeking support is crucial. Here are some essential steps to protect your privacy online:

1. Secure Browsing

Make sure you visit reputable websites that prioritize user privacy. Look for websites with SSL certificates, which encrypt data between your device and the website, protecting it from interception. How can you tell when a website is using an SSL certificate? Look for the lock icon in your browser's search bar. If it's closed, the site is protected. If it's open, look elsewhere.

2. Clear Browsing History

Regularly clear your browsing history to prevent others from discovering the websites you've visited. I talk about how to perform the necessary steps through your browser settings or using private browsing modes like Google Chrome's Incognito in my blog post, "Quick Tip: Clearing Your Browsing History in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge."

3. Avoid Sharing Personal Information Online

Be cautious when sharing personal information about your abortion online. It may be tempting to post details on social media or public forums to find solidarity with others in your position or communities offering a safe haven, but public posts could compromise your privacy.

4. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to add an extra layer of privacy and security to your online activities. A VPN is a secure intermediary between the internet and your data. It hides your internet traffic and makes it hard for outside actors to track your activity online. I've used NordVPN for many years and have been very happy with their service.

A woman of color is sitting on her living room couch, looking intently at her cell phone. Her loved ones are there to support her through her decision to obtain an abortion.

Communicating with Trusted Individuals

Sharing your decision to have an abortion with trusted individuals can provide emotional support and guidance. However, you need to take steps to keep those conversations private. Here's how:

1. Select Confidential Contacts

Choose trustworthy people to confide in about your decision. Make the importance of privacy clear and ask that they do not share your personal information without your consent.

2. Communicate in Private

When discussing your abortion with people you trust, find a private setting where you can speak openly without being overheard. This could be a quiet room in your home or a private space outdoors.

3. Delete Digital Conversations

If you have conversations about your abortion using online platforms, delete these conversations regularly. Deleting messages can help minimize the risk of someone you don't trust accessing your personal information.

The world is more connected than ever, and while you have more access to helpful resources, strangers have more access to you and your data. You can take advantage of finding the life-saving care you need by choosing trustworthy providers, being careful online, and surrounding yourself with people who share the same philosophy on privacy and healthcare. You can learn more about this topic by reading "How to Keep Your Abortion Private: 11 Data Privacy and Security Tips."

Stay safe!

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