Can this overnight popular app help American women regain “abortion rights”?

A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, declaring that "the Constitution does not give the right to abortion," allowing states to decide whether abortion is legal or not. This move triggered a global cultural "earthquake": US President Biden said that "this ruling has set the United States back 150 years." The American people took to the streets to protest one after another, and the leaders of the United Kingdom and France publicly expressed their criticism.

Since the appointment of three conservative justices by former US President Trump, coupled with the rise of conservatism for many years, in May of this year, there was a "leak" of the draft judgment of conservative Justice Alito – "Roe v. Wade Case" "It is only a matter of time when it is overthrown."

On the surface, the dispute is about the right to abortion, but "Roe v. Wade" has long gone beyond the scope of health and women's rights, and has become a "life-and-death proposition" in the U.S. Constitution, law, morality and politics.

The issues that American women are most concerned about are reflected in the "popularity" of the menstrual period tracking application Stardust. The app soared to the top of the U.S. Apple App Store and promised to encrypt user data and not turn it over to the government.

Can Apps Help People Take Back Abortion Rights?

Abortion rights flipped

Roe v. Wade was overturned, first affecting women of childbearing age.

The "red states" controlled by the Republican Party have completely banned abortion, and they have successively planned legislation to prohibit women in this state from going to other states to have abortions; while the "blue states" controlled by the Democrats cannot guarantee that the federal level will not issue a comprehensive ban on abortion in the future. , and may also be involved in lawsuits with other states.

For women of childbearing age, the legal risk of abortion has been greatly increased, and abortion itself has certain health risks. Then, use technological means such as Stardust, Clue and other software applications to observe and record their menstrual cycles and pregnancy dates. , it becomes very reasonable.

In addition to downloading tracking apps, women are also stocking up on emergency contraceptives. CVS and Rite Aid Corp pharmacies in the United States announced on Monday that they would limit purchases to a maximum of three tablets per person to ensure continued supply.

At the same time, the demand for IUDs, which can provide long-term contraception, is also surging, and more and more consumers are making appointments online.

Second, the process of giving birth or miscarriage becomes difficult for women who are already pregnant. An editorial in The Lancet pointed out that there are about 120 million unintended pregnancies worldwide each year, of which three-fifths end in miscarriage, as long as medically recommended methods are used and performed by trained professionals, Abortion is likely to be safe.

After the abortion right was banned in many states, whether a patient can have an abortion, under what circumstances is suitable for abortion, and how to define the difference between abortion and abortion, have become no longer "probably safe". In Texas, "facilitating an abortion" is punishable by up to life in prison, and doctors simply don't dare to recommend "crossing the minefield".

Abortion groups in "red states" such as Mississippi and Texas have to seek help across states. The average distance they received care increased from 25 miles to 125 miles. These people are often marginalized groups such as minorities and are not wealthy.

In addition, insurance companies and clinics are also affected. The former has to study legal procedures to help pregnant women perform abortions across states, and has to make employers and public welfare groups face higher employment costs and logistical guarantees. Clinics and doctors face more clinical dilemmas, such as how to choose between "hysterotomy" and "emptying abortion" – the former will not trigger the "abortion right" ban, but it will increase the risk of complications for patients.

data persecution

Abortion is in high demand among American women. A third had experienced an "abortion" in the broadest sense, including the use of the abortion pill.

This part of the demand, although the physiological period tracking application provided by the technology company, provides a part of the solution, but it also implies a high risk. Data on menstrual periods, pregnancy periods, hormone fluctuations, etc. in the app can now be used to prosecute women contemplating abortions. Those states that have "abortion bounties" can still use the data to engage in witch hunts.

Texas passed a law last year that would give any citizen a bounty of at least $10,000 if they successfully sue a woman who is six weeks pregnant and intends to have an abortion, a health care worker or anyone who facilitates an abortion. Other "red states" also have the idea of ​​imitation.

In this case, it makes sense that Stardust is "hot". Because the founders have said with great fanfare that the app uses encryption and that the data is not controlled by the government. According to Sensor Tower, Stardust had 135,000 new installs on June 24, the day Roe v. Wade was subverted, a 4,400 percent increase from the previous day. The next day, another 200,000 installs were added, and the ranking rose from No. 119 in the App Store to No. 1.

People's concerns are not without reason. Similar physical data recording applications have previously had "convictions" of sharing data with third-party tracking companies and analysis companies. Last year, an app called Flo violated its privacy policy and required a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Another app called Glow has reached a settlement with the state of California for exposing women's medical information.

Whether Stardust's encryption is reliable, there is no definite evidence yet. In its official introduction, the words "end-to-end encryption" have been deleted – this is what has been hyped before.

The scary thing is that it's not just menstrual tracking apps, browsers, search history, emails, text messages, logs, and other commercial apps that need to be opened every day may expose users' physiological data. The Supreme Court's ruling has sharply amplified concerns about the exposure of user privacy.

The Register recently reached out to Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Meta and Twitter to ask, "What will your company do to ensure that the data it collects is not used to prosecute women seeking abortion, and individuals or organizations that provide abortion support?" The tech giant did not respond for the time being.

Where do human rights begin

The right to abortion is important and sensitive because it involves the legal issue of how the right is derived.

Earlier, the full text of a draft decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (Mississippi 15-Week Abortion case) suspected to be written by Supreme Court Justice Sam El Alito (Alito) was exposed online. Hardcore conservative Alito directly attacked Roe v. Wade, saying it made a "grossly ridiculous mistake" in the first place.

His opinion is that the right to abortion is neither a constitutional right nor a right that is deeply ingrained in the history of American society, and the Supreme Court simply has no reason to "enact" it. In other words, this is an "originalist" view – the Supreme Court can only interpret and interpret the constitution and laws, not legislators.

And the radical decision in 1973, when the Supreme Court was legislated by precedent, directly declared the right to abortion to be legal across the United States. The judgment also leaves a "hole" that is difficult to bridge. Instead of considering the right to abortion as a fundamental right to give complete constitutional protection, it uses the controversial right to privacy as a supporting theory for the right to abortion. This approach is very "active".

However, not all conservative judges like "originalism", while liberal judges like "activism". Everyone still follows their own values, and they need the original purpose, and if they need to be active, they can move and jump repeatedly.

After Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized the right to abortion in the United States, the issue of abortion was "expanded" from a health issue to a constitutional and political issue. In the affirmative action of the 1960s and 1970s, the dynamism of the liberals of the U.S. Supreme Court was astonishing. At the same time, anti-abortion forces have also spread from local to national, expanding from a small number of Catholics to evangelical Christians and social conservatives.

Since the abortion rights of the year originated from the "right to privacy", the former was banned, which also meant that a series of privacy rights were not so "stable". Including related same-sex marriage rights, contraception rights, have become at stake.

People are more concerned about the tenure of abortion rights. Whether a woman's (pregnant) body belongs to herself or to the public domain such as the state/society has different interpretations in different countries, regions and cultures. At the same time, to whom does the body of the fetus belong?

Where does the right to life begin? Biologists from 15 countries gave the answer from a biological point of view: Life and the right to life begin with the union of sperm and egg.

Where human rights begin, morality and law also begin. However, where do human rights begin? No one knows for sure.

When rights cannot be defined, the technology that people have so relied on can hardly play its role.

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