Data brokers sell location information. Where people go, how long they stay, where they go next and for how long, even where they sleep — it’s all available, and it can be tracked using code attached to any number of mobile phone apps.
According to a recent article on Motherboard, it costs only “$160 to get a week’s worth of data on where people who visited Planned Parenthood came from, and where they went afterwards.”
After a recent leak of a draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade and ending federal protection of abortion rights, Governor Tom Wolf (D), who has been a brick wall against anti-abortion legislation in his eight years in office, reaffirmed his support for abortion access just after the opinion was released:
Democratic candidates for Governor and Senate have been equally forceful in their public support for abortion access, while their opponents in the GOP are universally against the right, with many leading candidates unwilling to allow for it even in instances of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is in jeopardy. Many on the right are also calling for criminal punishment, both for those who seek an abortion, and for the doctors who perform them.
When addressing a newly emboldened anti-abortion movement with a long history of violence, this is dangerous rhetoric.
These extreme positions are gaining ground on the American right, with red states attacking abortion rights in state legislatures, and some going as far as to call for punishments even for those who leave the state to seek care. Missouri is currently considering a law to punish anyone who helps someone seek out of state care, including anyone who pays for an abortion, or someone who drives a patient to a clinic, even if that clinic is across the state line.
And nationally, the rhetoric on the Roe decision is turning very ugly, with right-wing GOP legislators reaching for more and more extreme positions:
Many of these new anti-abortion laws in Republican-led states put enforcement in the hands of residents, allowing them to file lawsuits against those they believe have violated a law and then collect a “bounty” from the state if they succeed. And with data brokers now selling location information tracking movement in and out of clinics, those seeking to cash in on the bounty laws now have the tools to do it.
These laws do not yet exist in Pennsylvania, but several anti-abortion measures have reached the Governor’s desk in recent years. They have been vetoed previously, but should a Republican win the office in 2022, each candidate has already promised to sign a variety of new restrictions.
Again, most of these laws do not yet exist in Pennsylvania, but whether or not they arrive seems to be a decision that voters will have to make in November.
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