Women Buying Abortion Pills Online Have Another Worry

ProPublica finds that pharmacies are sharing data that could wind up in hands of prosecutors
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2023 6:30 AM CST
Women Buying Abortion Pills Online Have Another Worry
   (Getty / Ray Geiger)

Third-party trackers are a common nuisance for anyone who buys something online. But a ProPublica investigation has found that women who buy abortion pills on the internet face the possibility of more than a nuisance—they might get prosecuted. The outlet discovered that at least nine online pharmacies that sell abortion pills share data with Google and other third parties. The risk is that Google can be compelled to turn such data over to law enforcement, which could potentially use it to identify women who buy the pills. The online pharmacies using third-party trackers to collect such data are Abortion Ease, BestAbortionPill.com, PrivacyPillRX, PillsOnlineRX, Secure Abortion Pills, AbortionRx, Generic Abortion Pills, Abortion Privacy, and Online Abortion Pill Rx.

"Why in the world would you do that as a pharmacy website?" asks Serge Egelman of the Usable Security and Privacy Group at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. "Ultimately, it's a pretty dumb thing to do." None of the pharmacies responded to requests for comment. More women are turning to abortion pills in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but some states are attempting to ban the option as brick-and-mortar clinics close. Prosecutors in several states, including Georgia, Idaho, and Indiana, have cited orders for online abortion pills as evidence when charging people with illegal abortions. (Read the full story.)

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