Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) shot back at right-wingers online on Monday after they criticized her for her social media posts sharing tips and information about data security and abortion access in the post-Roe v. Wade U.S.
In response to questions from followers about how to safely obtain abortion medication in states that have banned the procedure, Ocasio-Cortez shared information from pro-abortion organizations like We Testify on how people may be able to circumvent abortion bans if they need to obtain an abortion. She also shared tips on how people can protect themselves digitally against abortion-related criminalization, as people seeking abortions in states where the procedure is illegal now face threats like data firms selling their location and health information.
Right-wing and anti-abortion writer John Gage screenshotted some of these posts and posted them on Twitter to criticize Ocasio-Cortez. “[Ocasio-Cortez] is posting about how people can skirt abortion bans,” Gage wrote.
“Yeah, and?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in response. “It’s saved on my Instagram highlights by the way, for anyone who wants it.”
“Republicans are mad because I am sharing this information. Too bad!” Ocasio-Cortez said later. “Freedom of choice is an inalienable right. Your bodily autonomy belongs to you.”
It’s unclear if people in states with abortion bans can obtain and use abortion medication ordered online and avoid prosecution. Some Republicans are waging efforts to explicitly ban people from getting abortions in other states, and in roughly a dozen states, the use of abortion pills is specifically banned. The Food and Drug Administration has been trying to make abortion pills widely available, but the legal situation is murky in states with bans.
As Ocasio-Cortez wrote on her Instagram story over the weekend, abortion pills are a safe way to end a pregnancy. Health experts say that people can safely self manage their own abortions if they’re done within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, as long as they’re armed with the right information to do so.
But Ocasio-Cortez rightly points out that abortion seekers may run into privacy concerns if they’re ordering the pills online or doing research about how to self manage an abortion.
“Privacy and surveillance concerns will be a major issue in a Post-Roe world. It is possible that states who criminalize people who get abortions may begin to take advantage of digital surveillance to track pople,” she wrote.
She suggests that people take steps like using a VPN or non-tracking browsers like DuckDuckGo to hide identifying information, and using anonymized email addresses and prepaid debit cards. As many abortion and privacy experts are urging now, Ocasio-Cortez also recommends that people delete their period tracking apps, which often collect data that could be used to criminalize someone who may have surreptitiously sought an abortion.
While sharing this potentially life-saving information, Ocasio-Cortez has also been advocating for radical change in the federal government with the goal of protecting abortion access.
Over the weekend, Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) called for increased scrutiny of senators’ assertions that far right Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and others be investigated for lying under oath in their confirmation hearings. The justices had previously pledged to uphold decades-old precedents like Roe while sitting on the Court.
Ocasio-Cortez called for the justices to be impeached, noting that lying under oath is an “impeachable offense.” Allowing justices to lie in order to secure their Supreme Court appointments is an incredibly dangerous precedent for Congress to set, she said.