Nebraska investigation into suspected medication abortion suggests hidden threats to press freedom post-Dobbs


Late last month, I had a piece in the Columbia Journalism Review arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court’s elimination of a constitutional right to abortion will likely lead to press freedom challenges.

Specifically, I noted that the decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, had created a “crazy quilt” of confusing state-by-state regulation that could impact the press in three ways: (1) reporting on where abortion is still legal could lead to charges or lawsuits for encouraging or aiding an abortion; (2) the availability of medication abortion could prompt authorities to investigate patients and those who help them, which could lead to inquiries into confidential sources; and (3) the modern abundance of digital breadcrumbs would likely lead to intrusive electronic surveillance.

In a case out of Nebraska that made headlines last week, you can see hints of both (2) and (3).

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