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6 Dec 2022

USA: Companies respond to corporate due diligence and reproductive rights survey

The United States (US) Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization rolled back reproductive rights and access to abortion across the country. Dobbs' overturn of Roe v. Wade meant that historic abortion bans took effect again, as did numerous restrictive abortion laws passed since 1973. In some of the most restrictive states this has put pregnant people’s lives at risk. It has also opened the possibility for people to be punished for seeking abortions, healthcare professionals to be punished for providing them, and friends and family members to be punished for helping people access abortions.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has been monitoring the impacts of the Dobbs decision on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. In addition to the deleterious effect of the decision on health rights, including access to reproductive healthcare, the ruling has broader repercussions. Digital and human rights experts warned that data collection by technology and financial companies could be used in investigations and court cases to enforce anti-abortion laws. This poses significant risks to people’s right to privacy, as well as other fundamental rights and freedoms.

In response to these concerns, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited 63 technology and financial companies operating in the US and collecting user or payment data to respond to survey questions on their transparency and human rights due diligence processes. Of those 63 companies, only 14 responded to the survey; their responses are published below. The results revealed limited transparency, gaps in human rights due diligence processes to understand rights implications associated with data collection in this context, a woeful lack of knowledge on how data collection could contribute to violating users’ rights, and apparent gaps in company policies and practices regarding third-party access to data, including government requests for access to information.