FACT CHECK: Did Glenn Youngkin Clear The Way For Police To Seek Menstrual Histories?
The Guardian claimed in a tweet that Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin cleared the way for a bill that would allow police to seek menstrual histories.
Virginia governor clears path for ‘extreme’ bill allowing police to seek menstrual histories https://t.co/LaNgH5eI0B
— Guardian news (@guardiannews) February 16, 2023
The bill would shield menstrual history data from police, not allow them to seek it. Youngkin opposed the bill and did not support it.
In the aftermath of Dobbs, privacy advocates have warned that data stored on period-tracking apps could be used by law enforcement in states that have banned or limited abortions, according to NPR. Experts have recommended those in a state where abortion is being criminalized should not use trackers, the outlet reported.
The Guardian claimed in a tweet that Youngkin “clears path for ‘extreme’ bill allowing police to seek menstrual histories.” The claim was also spread by individuals like comedian Samantha Bee and Atlanta Journal Constitution investigative editor Lois Norder.
Would love nothing more than to take the Governor of Virginia through my menstrual history in the most vivid detail pic.twitter.com/Aiwc0g2OKX
— Samantha Bee (@iamsambee) February 16, 2023
The Guardian tweet misrepresents what the bill would do. Instead of allowing police to seek menstrual histories, the bill would prohibit law enforcement from serving search warrants for menstrual health data, according to the bill’s amended text. (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Line Of People Waiting To Vote In Virginia?)
“No search warrant shall be issued for the search and seizure of [menstrual health data stored on] a computer, computer network, or other device containing electronic or digital information,” the bill’s text reads. “For the purposes of this section, ‘menstrual health data’ means any information, recorded in any form or medium, that is created or received by an entity that relates to or is used to determine, predict, or estimate the past, present, or future menstrual health [or menstrual status] of an individual.”
The bill, introduced by a Democrat, passed with bipartisan support in the Virginia Senate. The bill was then tabled by a Virginia House subcommittee, which essentially killed its chances of passing, according to The Washington Post. Maggie Cleary, the Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, said the bill would limit law enforcement’s ability to subpoena data, the outlet reported.
“While the administration understands the importance of individuals’ privacy, we do oppose this bill, this bill would be the very first of its kind that I’m aware of — in Virginia or anywhere — that would set a limit on what search warrants can do. … Currently any health information or any app information is available via search warrant. And we believe that should continue be the case,” Cleary told the Washington Post.
Graham Moomaw, a politics and policy reporter for the Virginia Mercury, addressed the claim on Twitter.
Virginia going kinda viral here but this isn’t what the bill did.
Police can access pretty much anything as long as they have a valid warrant connecting it to a potential crime.
The bill would’ve limited that, but it didn’t give the cops any new power. https://t.co/mbULMmgmRF
— Graham Moomaw (@gmoomaw) February 17, 2023
“Virginia going kinda viral here but this isn’t what the bill did,” Moomaw tweeted. “Police can access pretty much anything as long as they have a valid warrant connecting it to a potential crime. The bill would’ve limited that, but it didn’t give the cops any new power.”
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told Check Your Fact in an email that the Guardian’s tweet was a “perpetuation of a political falsehood and incorrect information.” (RELATED: Did Glenn Youngkin Call COVID-19 Relief “Unnecessary” In A May 12 Interview?)
“The Guardian’s perpetuation of a political falsehood and incorrect information is disappointing but not surprising. The damaging bill would have limited search warrant abilities for the first time in Virginia, harming law enforcement’s ability to protect victims across Virginia,” Porter said.
A spokesperson for the Guardian told Check Your Fact in an email that the “headline of the story was updated by a desk editor yesterday (16 February).” The Guardian issued an update on the bottom of the article.
“This article’s headline was amended on 16 February 2023. An earlier version did not correctly describe the purpose of the menstrual data bill or Glenn Youngkin’s position on it,” the update reads.
The Guardian article’s current headline reads, “Virginia governor blocks bill banning police from seeking menstrual histories.” The tweet with the incorrect claim is still online as of publishing time.