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Photo Sara Jacobs.  Art by Clark Miller.
Photo Sara Jacobs. Art by Clark Miller.

‘My Body, My Data’: The Tech Heir Congresswoman Bringing a New Privacy Fight to the Capitol

California Democrat Sara Jacobs, the granddaughter of a Qualcomm co-founder, mounts a rearguard defense of reproductive health data in the post-Roe era.

Photo Sara Jacobs. Art by Clark Miller.
July 8, 2022 1:00 PM PDT

“Mr. Speaker,” said California congresswoman Sara Jacobs, standing in the well of the House of Representatives one Thursday morning this past June. “As a young woman, reproductive health care is my health care, and like tens of millions of Americans, I’ve used apps to track my period.” Jacobs went on, “It is unconscionable that our personal reproductive information could be sold to the highest bidder and weaponized against us.”

Though far from controversial, Jacobs’ declaration was notable in its rarity. According to a review of the Congressional Record, it was the first time a member of Congress had made a reference to her own menstrual cycle from the House floor in at least the past 35 years (and possibly ever). And yet, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of Roe v. Wade earlier this month, American women’s periods—and the data they generate—are now a matter of urgent governmental concern.

At 33 years old, Jacobs, a Democrat, is unusual on Capitol Hill not simply for her youth, but as a high-profile embodiment of the millennial inclination to share, intimately and often. (Only two colleagues are younger: New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 32, and scandal-plagued 26-year-old North Carolina Republican Madison Cawthorn, who lost his primary this spring.) Last year, just eight months into her first term in office, Jacobs revealed to CNN that she had decided to freeze her eggs, another Congressional first—at least in the way that she announced it, complete with ultrasound selfies.

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