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Hackers in a Post Roe v. Wade World

As the war on abortion gains momentum and the future status of Roe v. Wade is in question, it becomes imperative that the knowledge of how to safely terminate a pregnancy be protected and effectively disseminated to those in need. Although abortion is a common and safe medical procedure, political controversy and deliberate misinformation campaigns by the pro-life movement have clouded the practical aspects of pregnancy termination. By learning what abortion entails, we can better understand what kind of tools, information, and medical privacy are at stake by extensive government overreach into personal healthcare decisions from the erosion of abortion access through targeted regulations of abortion providers.

In addition to legal battles challenging the status of abortion, activists and providers face significant risks for their work, making it necessary to engage in surveillance and counter surveillance activities to protect against doxxing, harassment, stalking, arson, and even homicide. Hackers are uniquely positioned to understand and enhance security protocols to protect individuals and networks involved in abortion access and procurement.

Given that abortion remains legal in the United States at this time, it is a best practice that someone in need of an abortion seek medical counsel and clinical support to terminate a pregnancy. As such, funding and support strategies used to assist individuals with limited access will be detailed to ensure the best possible outcomes for anyone in need of abortion. This talk will neither explain how to perform an abortion nor any other medical procedure, but will discuss the history of underground abortion, how self-managed abortion functions in complex legal contexts today, what we might expect from the web-based sale and distribution of medications used to terminate a pregnancy going forward, and how abortions were performed prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, with particular focus on how manual vacuum aspiration devices were reverse engineered by non-medical activists to produce the “Del Em” device used by underground abortion networks.