MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Friday, U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH-01) joined University of New Hampshire (UNH) Law Professor Tiffany Li and New Hampshire Women’s Foundation CEO Tanna Clews at UNH-Manchester for a discussion on reproductive rights and privacy rights.
In addition to support of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which Pappas supported in the House, he now seeks to introduce legislation that will be known as the “My Body, My Data Act” which would prohibit personal medical data from being used against a woman in criminal proceedings.
Li said that the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and other upcoming cases expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court have created uncertainty in the realm of reproductive rights and privacy rights, a point that Pappas agreed with.
“To have 50 years of precedent upended overnight, you’re seeing a race to the bottom with state-by-state passing laws that are targeting women and taking away their healthcare choices,” said Pappas. “I’ve gotten a lot of concern from folks who feel vulnerable based on their personal data, I think it should call a conversation to action.”
Clews said that when women do not have access to reproductive healthcare, the lack of access impacts themselves and family members economically. A lack of access to information related to reproductive healthcare is also impacting women in areas not related to abortion, such as the recent rise of sexually transmitted diseases.
She added that attacks on reproductive healthcare have disproportionally impacted minority communities.
While she advised young women to use digital encryption, keep conversations offline or limit online searches to computers at public libraries, she admitted that may be difficult for many.
“It really shouldn’t have to come down to that,” she said. “(Dobbs) is really such a rollback of all the rights we have fought for over the past 50 years.”
Clews says she appreciated the support of some men downloading period apps to protect women, she added that more work needs to be done and more information on the issue of reproductive health is needed for those who oppose abortion as well as those who believe it should be accessible to women, including for doctors who may not be aware of how new laws related to reproductive health impact them.
She added that the fear surrounding new anti-abortion laws have impacted procedures related to miscarriages, requiring women to travel into other states for potentially life-saving treatment
“You don’t have to want to have an abortion or like abortion, but you need to recognize the need for abortion,” she said.