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  • A U.S. anti-abortion group uses big data to manipulate women from aborting in Argentina.

    A U.S. anti-abortion group uses big data to manipulate women from aborting in Argentina. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 July 2019

In Argentina, 32 websites allow Heartbeat International to access their databases and use big data to strengthen the anti-abortion campaign. 

An international anti-abortion network from the United States called Heartbeat International which works in 60 countries, including Argentina, instructed its partner sites to attract women searching for abortion-related information and then persuade them not to carry out an abortion, a report by a British NGO Privacy International (PI revealed Tuesday.

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The organization also aims to get personal information about women to improve advertising strategies so that they can manipulate their decisions.

“Intrusive data collection software and digital marketing systems are being developed and promulgated worldwide by US-based, powerful and politically connected anti-abortion organizations,” says the report. 

“As anti-abortion organizations become aware of the usefulness of personal data to personalize and guide online messages, tools and technologies for data-intensive use are being developed specifically for pregnancy crisis centers, which Sometimes they disguise themselves as authorized medical facilities and have been criticized for providing those seeking medical help, false and misleading information.” 

In Argentina, 32 websites allow Heartbeat International to access their databases and use big data to strengthen the anti-abortion campaign. 

“In countries where there is opposition to reproductive rights, as well as limited data privacy laws, there is a significant risk that the data of people will be exploited in an attempt to restrict reproductive rights,” PI warns in its report.

The 32 partner centers in Argentina are situated in different provinces, most of them are Centers for Assistance to Women (CAM) located in the city of Buenos Aires.

The CAM in Argentina is part of a Latin American network of Heartbeat International. They offer online chat for “immediate help” to women to collect their data. Their website also spreads misinformation about medical processes. 

“Beware of abortion pills, they can seriously harm your health, do not self-medicate, first inform yourself. In the Women's Center we use the best and safest methods according to each woman, call us for free… ” reads the CAM website. 

During the debate that took place last year over the decriminalization and legalization of abortion in Congress, Heartbeat International spoke against the policy at the eighth public hearing of the Chamber of Deputies. 

Countries in Latin America have strict abortion rules. In many countries, there is a blanket ban on abortions even in cases of rape which leads women to seek clandestine unsafe abortions. 

About 500,000 Argentinians abort every year, 450,000 of these are clandestine and unsafe. Abortions have become the main cause of maternal death over the past 30 years, according to the nation's health ministry.​​​​

Due to legal restrictions, 298 Argentinian teens between 15 and 18 years old were forced to continue their pregnancies in 2016. ​​​​​​Eight girls between the ages of 10 and 14 are forced to become mothers every day in Argentina.

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