Digital Health Startups Prepare for the Post-Roe World

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According to a leaked draft obtained by PoliticoThe Supreme Court is set to overturn the historic decision of Roe v. Wade, a precedent defending women’s choice to have an abortion. The move, yet to be made, would be devastating to the women’s reproductive rights movement and would be a stunning boost to public health in the United States.

In response to the looming potential shift, founders of digital health startups spoke about how this upheaval will affect women. For many startups, especially those explicitly focused on women’s health, the future may directly conflict with the mission they’ve raised millions for and spent years trying to scale: expand access to healthcare across the board.

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Natalie Walton, chief executive of Expectful, said that restricting “women’s access to safe abortion services will result in adverse health outcomes for countless women.” Walton took over at the helm of Expectful after experiencing a pregnancy herself that nearly killed her. The haunting experience made her an example of a reality she had long known: being pregnant by a black woman meant taking risks, regardless of economic status.

While Expectful primarily works with women on their journey to motherhood, the app dedicates an entire unpaid section of its content to coping with pregnancy loss. He is also adding a section on abortion to his library, which should be completed by the end of the month. “As state laws evolve following the upcoming court ruling, we will continue to create content and programs to support all women, regardless of their unique position,” Walton added.

Expectful is one of a growing number of digital health venture startups focused on serving women. According to Pitchbook, investments in healthcare companies founded or co-founded by a woman account for 43% of the dollars raised by women last year. In 2011, this share was less than 25%. A growing profile of female-founded medical startups includes Maven, which made history last year. one of the first women’s health companies valued at $1 billion.

Founded by Kate Ryder, Maven began as a support service for miscarriage and high-risk care, as the founder herself experienced the emotions and confusion associated with a miscarriage. Today, the platform is working with employers to provide employees with a range of services, from pre-conception to post-natal care and family care. The company’s core principle is that “all people have the fundamental right to make personal decisions about their bodies and well-being, and to decide when, if and how to have a baby,” Ryder wrote in a LinkedIn statement this morning. .

Ryder said Maven has been mobilizing since last September, when the Texas legislature passed a law banning abortion after six weeks, and in the lead-up to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. She said Maven Wallet, an app that helps consumers calculate the cost of reproductive procedures and facilitate reimbursement, will be used to help “U.S. companies cover the costs of women seeking out-of-state care.” The company also provides advice on options and a forum where people can learn about their choices.

Hey Jane is a digital abortion clinic that connects patients with licensed healthcare providers and delivers abortion pills to their homes. Co-founder Kiki Friedman said opting out of mail-in abortion services “is now likely to be the most viable form of access for much of the country.” The startup believes it will be able to operate in the six states it currently operates in: New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Colorado or New Mexico. Friedman estimates that these states account for 52% of all abortions in the world.

An obstacle, in her opinion, will be the lack of consumer awareness about medical abortion. Most abortions in the US are done with medication, except she says only 1 in 5 people know it’s an option. “It is imperative that we continue to educate people about this safe, effective and common abortion option,” she wrote in a statement.

Hey, Jane is bracing for a surge in patients, and since the aforementioned Texas ban, the numbers have already increased. Friedman said it’s important for California and New York to prioritize legislation that will protect healthcare providers, patients and clinics in and out of the state.

“While we wait for an official decision, AJ is more committed than ever to putting power back in the hands of the people with telemedicine abortion care,” she said.

Lauren Burson founded the digital fertility program Conceive to better support women on one of the loneliest journeys in healthcare. She tells TechCrunch that Conceive stands by its decision to help all women maintain access to good care, “and will do everything in our power to live by our values.” The startup makes donations to local abortion funds and takes place today at 17:00.

“And most importantly, continue to educate our community that abortion is a health concern! The important thing is that this is just a draft. Not final yet. And maybe the wake-up call everyone needed,” she said.

Lux Capital Partner Dina Shakir has invested in digital health startups that focus on women’s health and equity for years, including Alife, Waymark and Maven.

“Like many women and allies at the intersection of health, technology and politics, my phone is buzzing with notifications from text messages, WhatsApp, Slacks, Discords, emails, calls,” she told TechCrunch. Its top priorities are mobilizing public opinion, donations and providing resources to workers and employers.

“Reproductive rights are human rights, and women’s health is public health. They are inseparable,” she tells TechCrunch. “Despite the difficult road ahead, I am encouraged by the women founders, investors and legislators who are committed to solving this problem. Soon”.

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