...it protects our bodily autonomy

You have right to decide freely and responsibly without coercion and violence the number, spacing and timing of children you may have and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.

Case Study

The right to privacy is one of the precedents used to establish reproductive rights. Laws and policies which impede upon individuals’ rights to access sexual and reproductive health services may also interfere with individuals’ right to privacy and to make autonomous decisions as it pertains to their health and fertility, meaning the two are linked. Reproductive rights are necessary for bodily autonomy.

Reproductive rights have, more recently, been put at risk by one of the most concerning trends associated with modern day anti-abortion activism: the manipulative use of personal data to target people seeking abortion information online.

As anti-abortion organisations wake up to the utility of personal data to tailor and target messages, data-intensive technologies and tools are being specifically developed for crisis pregnancy centres – which reportedly sometimes masquerade as licensed medical facilities and have been criticised for providing those seeking medical help with false and misleading information.

Among others, Heartbeat International is an international anti-abortion organisation that is particularly focused on using data to understand the needs and trends of anti-abortion centres.

Heartbeat International is an important player in the global anti-abortion scene - it says it has “700 affiliate locations outside the US”.

Becoming an affiliate provides discounted access to Heartbeat’s anti-abortion web design and digital marketing service, Extend Web Services, as well as its helpline, Option Line. Heartbeat markets its content management system – called Next Level – to its network of affiliates, claiming it “harnesses the power of big data” and gives anti-abortion centres “the ability to enter and access information anywhere at any time”.

As an enabling right, privacy plays an important role in supporting the exercise of reproductive rights. In countries where there is opposition to these rights, as well as limited data privacy laws, there is a significant risk of people’s data being exploited.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. Article 12, Right to privacy