For the final concern, while abortion pills are safe and effective in ending most early pregnancies, taking them in the face of a state abortion ban carries legal risks. The criminalization of pregnancy isn’t new, especially for people of color and low-income people, but it will quickly escalate without Roe. Anti-abortion states know they can’t stop medical abortion from entering their states or shut down out-of-state actors shipping it — although they certainly will try. Without in-state providers to target, anti-abortion lawmakers and prosecutors can target patients, as happened recently in Texas, where Lizelle Herrera was arrested and charged with murder in connection with an alleged voluntary abortion. (The charge was later dropped because the prosecutor acted outside the scope of current state law.)
The anti-abortion movement is likely to continue to deploy another longstanding tactic: deceiving people. Already, one in 10 Google searches for abortion services in states likely to ban abortion directs users to pregnancy crisis centers — groups that often imply they offer abortions as their mission is actually to prevent people from having abortions. Expect anti-abortion activists to create websites claiming to sell abortion pills or even selling fake abortion pills. As is often the case in crisis pregnancy centers, the hope would be that the person will exceed the recommended 10-week window to abort with medication. More broadly, logging on to these sites can alert anti-abortion activists to people seeking abortions, who may then be at risk of criminal prosecution if they proceed with the abortion, whether or not the state officially authorizes it.
In a post-Roe environment, how can these pitfalls be avoided? To combat a general lack of awareness, politicians, health care providers, advocacy organizations, and average citizens need to raise awareness about medical abortion, where it can be found reliably, and who can help in case of complications. Free speech guarantees should protect the provision of accurate information about medical abortion, even if abortion services are prohibited in a particular state. To increase the availability of the pills, lawmakers in pro-abortion states could pass legislation that would protect prescribing providers across states who practice under their medical licenses. States like New York and Connecticut have recently enacted laws to protect providers who treat patients who travel to their state. States could think more about how to reduce the risks of sending pills across state lines. However, providing cross-border abortions will never be risk-free in a country with patchwork legality and no federal policy on the matter.
To combat policing and other restrictions on those seeking medical abortions, Xavier Becerra, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, should enforce HIPAA to protect applicants’ private health information. ‘abortion. Except in defined circumstances, under HIPAA, a healthcare provider cannot disclose protected health information to state authorities. The ministry should warn healthcare workers that it is illegal for them to report patients they suspect of having had abortions unless compelled to do so by a subpoena, warrant or similar legal document. , and it could develop new protections that apply to patients accused of abortion-related crimes. .
Beyond government regulations, criminal defense attorneys across the country must prepare for an avalanche of cases over abortion law and pills. There are already nonprofit lawyers working in this space, but if abortion is a crime in about half the country, criminal defense lawyers will face a new set of charges against providers, patients and, potentially, those who assist them. Likewise, prosecutors could follow the example of Attorney General Rob Bonta of California, who has urged his colleagues across the country not to prosecute people for pregnancy results.
Finally, research and social media companies can play a role in combating misinformation about abortion pills. These companies created policies that attempted to downplay, remove, or add disclaimers to Covid-19 misinformation. Given the immense complexity of the post-Roe abortion legal and access landscape, companies could adopt similar policies governing misinformation about abortion and websites that aim to mislead and entrap women. pregnant. They could also reconsider how they track and store people’s location data, which could be used to enforce abortion penalties. State and federal regulators may also play a role, as those whose mission it is to combat false consumer information could target misinformation campaigns about the pills.