DelBene Introduces Bill to Protect Women’s Privacy at Work
As women continue to face workplace discrimination when they become pregnant or try to conceive, it’s vital their privacy is protected.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today reintroduced the Birth Control Privacy Act (H.R. 3443) to ensure women’s personal medical decisions about contraception are not disclosed to their employers — preventing serious exposures of personal health data and protecting the financial security of millions of women and their families.
“If a woman stops filling her prescription for birth control, her boss shouldn’t be the first to know,” DelBene said. “A woman’s decisions about contraception and family planning are nobody’s business but her own. If employers can identify when a woman decides to stop using contraception that can mean lost jobs, missed opportunities for advancement and diminished financial stability. Congress should put safeguards in place to ensure women’s privacy is protected in workplace wellness programs.”
DelBene’s bill is a response to last year’s reports that some workplace wellness program are mining workers’ health data to predict who might become pregnant by scanning medical claims, identifying women who stop filling prescriptions for birth control and cross-referencing that data with women’s ages, family sizes and Internet browsing history. While these programs say they don’t share information about individual workers with employers, existing privacy laws do not consistently prevent such disclosures from occurring.
The Birth Control Privacy Act would explicitly prohibit workplace wellness programs from disclosing personally identifiable information (PII) to employers about their workers’ use of birth control.
The bill was introduced with more than 40 original cosponsors. The legislation is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Women’s Law Center.
“Women should have unhindered and affordable access to their preferred method of contraception regardless of where they work. While workplace wellness programs have the potential to maintain employee’s health and help promote healthy behavior, there is a risk of reproductive coercion and workplace discrimination if women’s personal health information is shared with their employers,” said Dr. Haywood Brown, President of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “This legislation is an important component of protecting employees’ unfettered access to contraception.”