San Diego County supervisors OK resolution for federal reproductive health data bill

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Article by City News Service. Click here to read this article on the KPBS website.

San Diego County supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of a resolution supporting a federal proposal aimed at protecting the privacy of reproductive health data.

Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas sponsored the resolution in support of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego.

"What we are going to be doing is ensuring that information cannot be sold and cannot be used to prosecute individuals who are just living their lives," Lawson-Remer recently told CBS8.

If passed by Congress, Jacobs' bill would:

  • limit personal reproductive and sexual health data that can be collected, retained, used or disclosed to only what is needed to deliver a product or service;
  • protect personal data collected by entities not currently covered under HIPAA, including data collected by apps, cell phones and search engines;
  • require regulated entities to develop and share a privacy policy outlining how they collect, retain, use and disclose personal reproductive health information;
  • direct the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the law and develop rules to implement the statute;
  • allow people to hold regulated entities accountable for any violations;
  • provide additional consumer protections, including the right to access or delete personal data; and
  • include a non-preemption clause that allows states to provide further protection for reproductive and sexual health privacy.

Supervisor Joel Anderson was the lone vote against the resolution.
"The bill doesn't impact Californians and I don't represent people in other states," he explained in an emailed statement.

Although he has opposed previous abortion rights-related measures, Supervisor Jim Desmond said he supported the resolution because "he believes this data, and really anyone's personal data, shouldn't be shared with companies, unless authorized," according to a statement from his office.

In response to recent laws restricting abortion rights in states like Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade in June, the board's Democratic members have approved several measures supporting reproductive freedom.

In May, supervisors voted 3-1 to explore increasing reproductive health services in the county and in support of a California constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to an abortion. Last September, they voted 3-1 to declare the county "a champion of reproductive freedom."