AGs Urged To Probe Anti-Abortion Centers’ Privacy Claims

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AGs Urged To Probe Anti-Abortion Centers' Privacy Claims

A nonprofit ethics watchdog, the Campaign for Accountability, has urged the attorneys general of Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington to investigate the privacy practices of crisis pregnancy centers affiliated with Heartbeat International and Care Net. These centers are accused of misleadingly asserting compliance with federal health privacy laws.

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Crisis Pregnancy Centers Privacy Practices: Misleading Privacy Assurances

The crisis pregnancy centers are criticized for claiming their services are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), despite acknowledgements from Care Net and Heartbeat International that HIPAA does not cover the majority of their operations. These centers, which offer pregnancy-related information but do not advocate for or refer to abortion services, are allegedly exploiting the common misconception that HIPAA universally safeguards medical information.

Michelle Kuppersmith, Executive Director of the Campaign for Accountability, condemned the centers’ actions as deceptive. “Tricking consumers into believing their sensitive health information will be kept confidential when it is not covered by HIPAA is not just despicable, it’s deceptive and likely violates state consumer protection laws,” she stated.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Privacy Practices: HIPAA’s Limited Scope

HIPAA, enacted in 1996, mandates that healthcare providers implement several safeguards to protect sensitive consumer information. However, the scope of HIPAA is narrower than many consumers realize, with a significant amount of personal health data collected through other means—like wellness apps and smart devices—not falling under its protections.