Cantwell Backs “My Body, My Data” Bill to Protect Women’s Health Privacy in Senate

Cantwell: We need “strong, enforceable rights” to safeguard reproductive and sexual health information; Leaked Roe v. Wade draft decision raises concerns data could immediately be used to target people if abortion is criminalized

In response to the leaked draft decision revealing the Supreme Court’s plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a leader in the fight for strong federal privacy legislation, joined Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate to introduce the My Body, My Data Act, which would protect personal reproductive health data.   

"Women, and all individuals, need strong, enforceable rights to protect their most sensitive health data, especially regarding their personal and private reproductive or sexual health information,” said Sen. Cantwell, Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which oversees federal data privacy policy. “This legislation does that, and I am glad to support it.”

The bill would create a new national standard to protect personal reproductive health data, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. By minimizing the personal reproductive health data that is collected and retained, the bill would prevent this information from being disclosed or misused.

If Roe is overturned, abortion providers in Washington will likely start treating more patients traveling from other states. According to reporting on projections from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy research organization, Washington could see a 385% increase in patients from out of state seeking care.

The leaked draft Supreme Court decision has raised serious concerns that data collected by apps and websites could be used to target or arrest people if abortion is criminalized. This includes location data, search histories, and reproductive health data collected by menstruation, ovulation, and pregnancy tracking apps each month. Recent reporting has also revealed the prevalence with which consumers’ personal reproductive health information – often our most personal information – is disclosed and monetized.

Currently, few protections exist to prevent personal reproductive health data or information about people seeking reproductive health services from being collected, retained, or disclosed to third parties. With at least 26 states likely or certain to ban abortions if Roe is overturned, this bill is the first Congressional action to strengthen digital privacy and protect our personal reproductive health information specifically.

The Senate legislation is led by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and has a total of 10 cosponsors, including Senators Cantwell, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-N.Y.).  A companion bill was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA-53) along with 43 cosponsors. The bill is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), NARAL Pro-Choice America, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), and Feminist Majority.

A summary of the My Body, My Data Act can be read HERE. Full text of the bill is available HERE.