When I first heard about the Roe v. Wade decision, I had a bit of an out of body experience. My entire life, the right to an abortion has been an established legal precedent. The fact that it was overturned nearly 50 years after the issue was settled has been shocking and scary. Access to abortion is not just a human right, it is an essential component of women’s healthcare, and its restriction will put women’s wellness and lives at risk.
As I’ve been learning more about this ruling’s potential ramifications on things like period tracking, my outrage has only increased. Tracking apps have only been around for about a decade, but they’ve already made a profound impact on women’s health. Using an app has helped me get in tune with my body, understand symptoms, and make decisions on a whole host of health issues beyond questions of fertility.
I think the most important revolution period tracking apps have brought about is even more simple than that: it's educating women about their own bodies. When I talk to my friends, whether they grew up in New York City or Texas, we all had the same experience of teenage sex ed — there was a lot of emphasis on the sex and prevention messages and complete silence on the education part of the equation. None of us could name the phases of the menstrual cycle or understand the far reaching impact of hormones until we were well into our 30s.
The proliferation of period tracking apps has started to change that. They have become a necessary tool for empowerment. According to NPR, the two biggest apps, Flow and Clue, report having 43 million active users and 13 million, respectively. Now, in the wake of the Roe decision, there is rising concern that voluntarily tracking your menstrual cycle information in an app could become problematic. There is a growing fear that this personal data could be obtained by the government or advocacy groups and used as evidence that a woman has had an abortion.
My core beliefs — the beliefs that led me to start Veracity — are that every person has the right to understand what is going on with their health and the right to control what happens with their personal data. While we probably won’t know for a while if the fear surrounding tracking apps is valid, it is something that I have been thinking about a lot.