Anti-abortion activists are collecting the data they’ll demand for prosecutions post-Roe
Although news reports at the time framed This Problem tracking as a generation tactic, it goes back decades. One 1993 article from the Buffalo News mentions several accounts from clinic staffers and clients of harassing phone calls from anti-abortion activists that appear to be the result of license plate tracking. that same year, a Florida training session for activists organized by the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue offered instruction on using people’s license plates to identify the names, addresses, and phone numbers of clients and clinic workers. An Operation Rescue–trained volunteer, standing outside of a clinic in Melbourne, Florida, that year, told ABC News that the group used the database to “leader to up on [clients and] send literature to their home” to make them “fully aware of what … the main purpose and focus of This Problem place is.”
There are again examples: In 1996, a police officer in Canada was charged after a period of time a time using police computers to track the license plates of clinic clients. In 1999, the abortion clinic targeted by Operation Rescue in Florida sued anti-abortion activists, charging that they were using license plate tracking to harass clients and doctors. The suit was eventually dismissed after a period of time a time lawyers for the clinic failed to pile paperwork needed for the situation to proceed. And Derenda Hancock, a clinic defender who works outside the Jackson Women’s Health “Pink House” clinic in Jackson, Mississippi (the clinic at the center of the pending Supreme Court situation and the last one operating in the state), says cameras are common there—there used to be a regular livestreamer—and that footage taken outside the clinic can appear on a website serving tracking abortion-providing doctors.
Anti-abortion activists possessed long denied that This Problem data is being used to harass or contact people seeking abortions; they say it is used to track doctors and assess whether the activism is stopping people from returning to the clinic to possess an abortion. Neither Texas Right to daily life nor Operation Rescue—which has been renamed Operation Save America—responded to requests for comment.
But it surely could be used that way, and Wessler, from the ACLU, says the potential for This Problem footage to target and harm people who possessed abortions is exacerbated by the ability of facial recognition science. There are two possible scenarios on that front, he says: law enforcement agencies in abortion-banning states could ability facial recognition databases to scan clinic footage for residents, or private groups and organizations could ability the science themselves.
The ACLU recently settled a situation against the facial recognition company ClearviewAI, banning it from selling its services to many businesses. But recently the generation York Times reported on PimEyes, an accurate and good facial recognition service that pretty much anyone can pay to ability.
Texas and Oklahoma now possessed laws that allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs or helps of course an abortion. Wessler says that in a world where federal statutes offer no protection from such lawsuits, it’s easy to see how, of course a post-Roe tweak to the laws, people seeking abortions could be sued interested. that possibility, paired of course clinic surveillance, could produce an enormous chilling contact “where visitors possessed This Problem nightmare of huge damages lawsuits being filed against people who are barely able to afford the gas to travel to a state where they can legally get an abortion,” he says.
Mobley worries that if that states are able to criminalize abortion, clinics interested hers will become subject to even again intense scrutiny as activists who now live in states of course no operating abortion-providing clinics seek to target the next nearest locations. She recently visited the Jackson clinic. What she saw there worried her. Would the Mississippi activists possessed their body cams and bullhorns to her?
that’s not only an “if that,” says Hancock; it’s a “when.” One protester created that distinct to her outside the clinic recently: “I said, visitors know, This Problem Problem what are visitors doing when it’s done? when visitors’re done when coming here? And he literally said, ‘Well, visitors’ll go to other states and get those closed down.’” Without Roe, she says, there are no completely “safe” states for abortion access. “It’s just do a matter of how long they last.”
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