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GOP Governor Blocks Measure To Keep Menstrual Data From Being Searched By Law Enforcement

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin blocked a Democratic measure that would have kept law enforcement from accessing menstrual data in search warrants.

Glenn Youngkin
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin came under fire after blocking a Democratic measure to keep law enforcement from accessing menstrual data in search warrants.

Youngkin's move came after the state's Democratic-led Senate passed a measure that "would have banned search warrants for menstrual data stored in tracking apps on mobile phones or other electronic devices" according to The Guardian, which noted the measure was supported by half of the chamber's Republicans.

Despite the bill's clear bipartisan support, Youngkin employed a procedural move in a subcommittee of the Republican-controlled House to kill the legislation.

State Senator Barbara Favola—a Democrat who represents the 31st district—introduced the bill.

The legislation was drafted over concerns about personal privacy after last summer's Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Favola said apps used to store menstrual data are not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

HIPAA stipulates how personally identifiable information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft. It generally prohibits healthcare providers and healthcare businesses from disclosing protected information to anyone other than a patient and the patient's authorized representatives without their consent.

But Maggie Cleary—Youngkin’s deputy secretary of public safety—said it was not the responsibility of the legislature to restrict the scope of search warrants. She said currently "any health information or any app information is available via search warrant" and it should remain that way.

However, Favola said the only time search warrants would be used "would be in a criminal case," adding she doesn't "want to have menstrual health data to be used to criminalize women if they may have had an abortion."

Many reacted angrily to Youngkin's move.

They criticized him and Republicans at large for supporting similar measures elsewhere.

Youngkin's move came just a week after the Florida High School Athletic Association's board of directors voted 14-2 to remove questions about the menstrual cycles of high school athletes from a health form required for them to participate in school sports.

Controversy erupted over the questions on the medical forms, which are typically filled out by physicians and submitted to schools.

NPR reported the board approved a recommendation to remove questions "for details including the onset of an athlete's period and the date of that person's last menstrual cycle."