“With privacy, it’s like once it’s out, it’s out,” Professor Meiklejohn said.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, a physician and director of Women on Waves, a nonprofit that provides resources for abortion seekers, found this to be the case when she tried to create her own crypto wallet. “It had the exact same due diligence demands as a normal bank account, where you have to provide ID and other information,” she said.
She could see how anonymous transactions could attract abortion providers, whose work could soon turn them into legal targets. But, she says, “I haven’t found any cryptocurrency where you can do that.”
Lawyers are not convinced that cryptocurrencies would protect patients in most cases. Abortion bans “will cover everything whether you pay in cash or crypto,” said Rachel Rebouché, acting dean of Temple University Beasley School of Law and author of a forthcoming article titled “The New Abortion Battleground.” .
“If abortion is illegal in your state — it doesn’t matter if you have a surgical abortion, a medical abortion, whether you self-manage your abortion — if it’s illegal, it’s illegal,” said Kimberly Mutcherson, dean and professor of law at Rutgers Law School who focused on reproductive rights. (In the first three months of this year, 22 states 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 supports the right to ‘abortion.)
Still, organizations like Planned Parenthood are keeping an open mind about how they might raise and distribute funds.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the organization’s president and CEO, said Planned Parenthood was “looking into a number of things” in the cryptocurrency space, but would not divulge specifics.
“At the end of the day, all options are on the table,” she said.