Femtechnodystopia

81 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2022 Last revised: 4 Jul 2023

See all articles by Leah R. Fowler

Leah R. Fowler

University of Houston Law Center, Health Law & Policy Institute

Michael R. Ulrich

Boston University - School of Law; Boston University School of Public Health; Yale Law School

Date Written: May 3, 2022

Abstract

Reproductive rights, as we have long understood them, are dead. But at the same time that 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 accuracy, limit foreseeable privacy risks, and raise consumer awareness. But the current legal and regulatory landscape makes achieving these goals difficult, further complicated by political influence and a conservative Supreme Court. This Article assesses multiple solutions involving diverse stakeholders, concluding that a multifaceted approach is needed to keep femtech’s dystopian future from becoming a reality.

Note:
Funding Information: None to declare.

Conflict of Interests: None to declare.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, Leah R. and Ulrich, Michael R., Femtechnodystopia (May 3, 2022). Stanford Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4099764 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4099764

Leah R. Fowler (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center, Health Law & Policy Institute ( email )

4104 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Houston, TX 77204
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uh.edu/faculty/main.asp?PID=5291

Michael R. Ulrich

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Boston University School of Public Health ( email )

715 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118
United States

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States

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