Insights: Privacy and Safety Considerations for Early Pregnancy Loss or Abortion
Written by Sadia
In a beyond-Roe world, all eyes are on uteri. Pregnancy outcomes, care, and management have been regulated more than any other medical arena and subjected to public scrutiny. Systemically marginalized communities, including people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities, have been and continue to be disproportionately surveilled and criminalized for their pregnancies and reproductive decisions. An increasing concern is the privacy and safety for everyone involved in early pregnancy loss (EPL) or abortion care. Nurses, medical assistants, pharmacists, clinicians, patients, doulas, social workers, and everyone else are left wondering – what now? Patients are left wondering how to protect themselves, prevent criminalization, and have their desired pregnancy outcome on their terms.
Healthcare professionals need to consider that many patients may not feel safe providing their last menstrual period anymore and that people are opting to do self-managed abortions to protect their privacy. Understand that not everyone can afford to come into a clinic. Transit, appointment availability, age, ability, money, interpersonal violence, and more put several people at a disadvantage when seeking EPL and abortion care.
Given this context, here are some tips to make your healthcare facility more accessible for people seeking EPL and abortion care:
- Have the How to Use Abortion Pills Fact Sheet available in restrooms, patient rooms, waiting room areas, social media, and organizational websites.
- Integrate trauma-informed care into your patient interactions and workplace
- Inquire if management has finalized a digital security training.
- If someone is experiencing EPL, provide space and support when explaining all treatment and management options.
- Be mindful of safety and privacy concerns as you strive for the best care possible.
- Ask your institution to review privacy and confidentiality policies.
- Ensure your billing systems are set up to avoid sending notifications and Explanations of Benefits home.
- Fully inform your patients of how information is shared and how you plan to contact them.
Even as technology companies claim not to provide reproductive and pregnancy-related information to law enforcement, digital security and privacy concerns are real. Take steps to protect your own digital security, and that of your patients. Review the resources available to you from Digital Defense Fund, an organization focused on digital security for the abortion access movement. Some suggestions include clearing your browsing history, turning off location sharing on your phone, or using a VPN to browse privately.
How to Use Abortion Pills Fact Sheet
How to Use Misoprostol-only for a Medication Abortion
Equality Labs Digital Security
Confronting Pregnancy Criminalization: A Practical Guide for Healthcare Providers, Lawyers, Medical Examiners, Child Welfare Workers, and Policymakers
Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline
1. Drexler KA, Quist-Nelson J, Weil AB. Intimate partner violence and trauma-informed care in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2022 Mar;4(2):100542. doi: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2021.100542. Epub 2021 Dec 3. PMID: 34864269.
2. Upadhyay UD, Cartwright AF, Grossman D. Barriers to abortion care and incidence of attempted self-managed abortion among individuals searching Google for abortion care: A national prospective study. Contraception. 2022 Feb;106:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2021.0
Pharma-free: The Reproductive Health Access Project does not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We do not promote specific brands of medication or products. The information in the Insights is unbiased, based on science alone.