Black women leaders denounce federal abortion ban, call for Reproductive Justice supporters to register and vote
Statement by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO…
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, cycle/period-tracking apps have left nearly one in three menstruators vulnerable to attacks on their privacy. What once was an easy way to map fertility, manage premenstrual symptoms and plan contraception use has now become an opportunity to prosecute birthing people who seek or have abortions.
As beneficial, and even empowering, as period-tracking apps are, digital data concerns may be their downfall. Most of the best-known apps of this kind collect data on extremely sensitive and intimate medical details that are then stored in the cloud or on a server – not on users’ phones. This stored data is rarely under the control of the app user. Unlike medical providers who are bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), most health apps are exempt from federal health privacy laws. This essentially gives these apps the power to decide with whom they share user information.
After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is a growing possibility that data from period-tracking apps could be obtained as evidence to support a criminal loss of pregnancy, even in instances of miscarriage. For example, one very popular period-tracking app, will not only help keep track of a user’s menstrual cycle but also has a feature for pregnant people that can track the growth of a fetus. Also within this feature, a user can identify if there has been a miscarriage. In states like Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi that are working to criminalize abortion, this information stored by digital health apps can be used in court as documentation that a birthing person has terminated a pregnancy.
With growing concern from lawyers, privacy experts and Reproductive Justice advocates, digital period-tracking apps may no longer be a safe way for menstruators to monitor their health. As we face an uncertain future after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, menstruators should consider turning to medical professionals who are bound by HIPAA to keep their health information confidential, or returning to alternative methods for period tracking, like using a journal or template.
If you have concerns about your digital data being compromised, consider printing one of our downloadable period tracking templates:
Our partner organization, SisterReach, also has a menstrual tracker available for download.