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Sneaky ways cops could access data to widely prosecute abortions in the US

Enlarge (credit: David McNew / Contributor | Getty Images News)

It’s not clear yet what role tech companies will play in helping police access data to prosecute abortions in post-Roe America, but it has already become apparent that law enforcement is willing to be sneaky when seeking data.

Cops revealed one potential tactic they could use back in June, when Meta faced scrutiny from reproductive rights activists for complying with a search warrant request from police in Madison County, Nebraska. The Nebraska cops told Meta they were investigating a crime under the state’s “Prohibited Acts with Skeletal Remains.”

But what they were actually investigating was a case involving a woman, Jessica Burgess, who was suspected of aiding her 17-year-old daughter, Celeste Burgess, in procuring an unlawful abortion in the state at 23 weeks. The mother and daughter previously told police that Celeste miscarried, but—in part because of data Meta supplied—the mother is now being prosecuted for unlawfully aiding her daughter in an abortion. Celeste is being prosecuted as an adult for other crimes.

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