Thursday, July 7, 2022
Legal Scholars Argue that Femtech Products Poised to Fill Gaps as States Try to Limit Birth Control and Abortion Access
Leah Fowler & Michael Ulrich, Femtechnodystopia
Reproductive rights, as we have long understood them, are dead. But at the same time history seems to be moving backward, technology moves relentlessly forward. Femtech products, a category of consumer technology addressing an array of “female” health needs, seem poised to fill gaps created by states and stakeholders eager to limit birth control and abortion access and increase pregnancy surveillance and fetal rights. Period and fertility tracking applications could supplement or replace other contraception. Early digital alerts to missed periods can improve the chances of obtaining a legal abortion in states with ever-shrinking windows of availability or prompt behavioral changes that support the health of the fetus. However, more nefarious actors also have interests in these technologies and the intimate information they contain. In the wrong hands, these tools can effectuate increased reproductive control and criminalization. What happens next will depend on whether we can improve efficacy, limit foreseeable privacy risks, and raise consumer awareness. But the current legal and regulatory landscape makes achieving these goals far from a straightforward proposition, further complicated by political influence and a conservative Supreme Court. Thus, this Article concludes with multiple solutions involving diverse stakeholders, offering that a multifaceted approach is needed to keep femtech’s dystopian future from becoming a reality.