For more information on What is an Abortion? and How do I get an Abortion?, please read their respective fact sheets.

How can I protect my digital privacy when seeking information online about abortion or receiving care?

In an increasingly digital world, there are more records of what type of information people are searching for and where they are searching for it. It's possible that this type of data can be used to prosecute those who are seeking an abortion or helping someone else seek an abortion.

In order to protect yourself, there are a number of ways you can safeguard your privacy:

  • Use browsers and search engines with more intensive privacy settings, such as DuckDuckGo, Firefox, and Brave.
    • Turn off all browser features related to site data, cookies, caching, and browser history.
  • Use contact information that is completely separate from your primary forms of contact.
    • You can get a secondary phone number through Google Voice, Hushed, or Burner.
    • You can get a secondary, secure email address at Tutanota or ProtonMail.
    • You can use a messaging app such as Signal which has end-to-end encryption, has settings to allow messages to disappear, and doesn’t collect data about its users.
  • Review all privacy settings on your mobile phone.
    • If you use any health apps to track your period, review their policies on data sharing, such as whether the app owns your data, where the data is stored, and whether it is sold to advertisers.
      • If you feel uncomfortable with the policies, you could switch to an app with privacy policies that better align with your values or switch to tracking manually with paper and pencil.

How can I maintain my safety and privacy when seeking care?

When seeking care, there are a number of ways to help maintain your safety and privacy. Trying to maintain privacy in these ways may incur some additional costs, so seeking resources from abortion funds may help to offset some of these expenses. 

Safety while traveling

If you need support with transportation or lodging to receive abortion care, working with designated organizations that provide this type of support will provide the most safety and privacy. Many abortion funds and organizations that help people find abortion care services can connect those who need care with transportation and lodging. This may be in the form of a hotel or being hosted by someone in their home. For example, the National Network of Abortion Funds provides lists of abortion funds by state and indicates the types of assistance that these funds provide (transportation, lodging, etc.). These organizations often have completed safety screenings of anyone that may be supporting a person seeking abortion care along the way. This will ensure the safety of everyone involved, especially if the person seeking care is from a state where abortion is illegal.

While many people may be offering up their homes or sharing offers to “go on vacation” with people who are seeking abortion care, these options are less safe than seeking care through an organization dedicated to this work. Though the person offering up their home may mean well, they haven’t had the training to help a person seeking abortion. Additionally, because the person hasn’t been vetted by one of these organizations, it may be difficult to determine who is genuinely offering help and who is a bad faith actor wanting to harm those seeking an abortion.

In addition to seeking support from specific organizations, be mindful of where and with whom you share information about seeking abortion services. If living in a state where abortion is illegal, only telling those who need to know about seeking care can reduce the risk of any potential legal ramifications or harm. Sharing information about seeking abortion care on social media platforms is also not recommended.

Paying for services

When paying for services or anything that may be needed when seeking care (hotel, transportation, communication devices, etc.), using cash can reduce the ability to track any transactions back to a particular person. If purchases need to be made online, using cash to first buy a preloaded gift card (such as a Visa, Mastercard, or American Express) can remove any connections to your bank account or credit cards. Preloaded gift cards can be purchased at many locations, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, among other retailers.

Location tracking on your cell phone

Check your cell phone and turn off all privacy tracking features that aren’t needed. You can see in your phone’s settings which apps are designated to track your location in which instances. Some people may also choose to purchase a separate cell phone, called a burner phone, that has a prepaid number of minutes or texts in advance. This phone can be used only for abortion-related purposes, and it will be turned off when not in use. If the temporary phone is still a smartphone, it’s best to turn off all location tracking. Many burner phones are mobile phones with simple technological capabilities, such as being able to send text messages and make phone calls. This helps to reduce the likelihood of cell phone communication being easily tracked to you.

Using mail services

If you are having anything delivered in the mail related to abortion services (such as medication, a burner phone, etc.) and you are concerned about it being attached to your address, you may look into a variety of private mail options. These may include getting a private mailbox, using General Delivery, using a virtual mailbox and having the contents of the mailbox then forwarded to another address, or opening a mail account in another state and driving to that mailbox to receive the contents. Plan C outlines in more detail each of the potential steps that would be necessary for a given choice.

Abortion is illegal in my state. How can I get an abortion?

Traveling to another state

In order to see what restrictions exist in each state, the map from Guttmacher Institute may be useful. When traveling, looking at the restrictions in the state you may be traveling to can help you determine what you may need to consider while seeking care. This may include any waiting periods, restrictions on who can provide care, and what insurance coverage is accepted, among other restrictions.

Self-managed abortion

For those who would prefer to stay at home for their abortion or for whom traveling isn’t an option, they may choose to use a self-managed abortion. These are medication abortions that are done at home. If you or someone else is considering a self-managed abortion, you can find more information from the Self-Managed Abortion; Safe & Supported website from the organization Women Help Women.

Not everyone may be a candidate for a self-managed medication abortion. If people are more than twelve weeks pregnant, the abortion pills may not fully terminate the pregnancy. Additionally, people with a variety of health conditions, who may have an ectopic pregnancy or history of ectopic pregnancy, or have an intrauterine device (IUD) are all advised to seek guidance from a health professional. Access to support is also critical, so it’s not recommended that these be taken by someone who is alone or can’t get to a health care provider within two hours. While medication abortions are generally considered very safe, complications may arise in which seeking care is necessary.

Additional considerations

Some states are reviewing their laws regarding restrictions to abortion, including travel and telemedicine, and they may change at any time. In order to see which restrictions exist in each state, the map from Guttmacher Institute may be useful.

For those who are seeking legal support or looking to learn more about their rights when it comes to abortion, the Repro Legal Helpline and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women provide legal advice and assistance to those who have been charged with a crime related to abortion or the outcome of a pregnancy.

Disclaimer: Go Ask Alice! provides health information and should not be considered specific medical advice, a diagnosis, treatment, or a second opinion for health conditions. Any products or organizations referenced on the Go Ask Alice! website are not an endorsement of said product or organization. They are intended as a reference point and all readers are encouraged to do their own research before using.

Last reviewed/updated: December 9, 2022