“The thing about data protection is that once it’s out, it’s out,” Professor Meiklejohn said.
dr Rebecca Gomperts, a physician and director of Women on Waves, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for abortion seekers, found this to be the case when trying to set up her own crypto wallet. “It had exactly the same due diligence requirements as a regular bank account, where you have to provide ID and other information,” she said.
She could see how anonymous transactions could appeal to abortion providers whose work could soon make them legal targets. But she said, “I haven’t found a cryptocurrency where you can do that.”
Legal scholars are not convinced that cryptocurrencies would protect patients in most cases. Abortion bans “cover everything, whether you’re paying with cash or crypto,” said Rachel Rebouché, interim dean at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law and author of a forthcoming article titled “The new battlefield of abortion.”
“If abortion is illegal in your state — it doesn’t matter if you get a surgical abortion, a medical abortion, if you self-administer your abortion — if it’s illegal, it’s illegal,” said Kimberly Mutcherson, dean and professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, which has focused on reproductive rights. (In the first three months of this year, 22 states were introduced more than 100 restrictions on abortion pills approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group that advocates for abortion rights.)
Still, organizations like Planned Parenthood are open to how they might raise and distribute funds.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the organization’s president and chief executive officer, said Planned Parenthood is investigating “a number of things” in the cryptocurrency space but would not divulge any details.
“The bottom line is that all options are on the table,” she said.