A die Perhaps the most pressing issues for the United States to prepare for are the future it faces after the overthrow of Roe v. Wade.
In the midterm elections, voters will weigh in on the candidates and, therefore, on the measures that will dictate access to abortion and other human rights issues. The role that venture capital must play in all of this is becoming clearer: there has been pressure to fund more reproductive health ventures, include access to healthcare in ESG investments, and reassess where the most safe to open a business for female employees.
To get a clearer picture of what lies ahead, TechCrunch+ interviewed eight investors and learned what they think the company’s role should be in a post-Roe world. McKeever Conwell, the founder of RareBreed Ventures, noted the tenuous relationship between venture capital money and ethics. He said while some may not care about human rights issues when it comes to investing, he wants to double down on funding for startups focused on reproductive health.
Theodora Lau, the founder of Unconventional Ventures, said she thinks more venture capitalists should take political positions on the issues. “Access to healthcare is a right; it’s not politics,” she said. “These are existential questions that should concern us all, regardless of our role.”
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“Where legislation continues to lag behind, it’s important that technology takes a proactive stance to bring transparency to current and future innovations and mitigate the kinds of risks we see today.” Hessie Jones, Partner, MATR Ventures
Meanwhile, hessie jones, a partner at MATR Ventures, said the due diligence process needed to be thorough to identify the risks involved in developing new technologies. “Due diligence must extend beyond the ‘intentions’ of the founder. We need to ask ourselves: to what extent can this technology be used for other use cases beyond its current intent? What is the imminent risk to individuals or groups? »
Finally, almost everyone we spoke to is keeping tabs on any changes that may come in November. “Vote,” Lau said. “With your voice, with your action and with your wallet.”
We spoke with:
- hessie jonespartner, MATR companies
- Lisa Calhoun, Gary Peat and Guillaume Leonard, Valor Ventures
- Mecca Pieexecutive Director, Start track
- Ed Zimmermanfounding partner, First close partners
- Theodora Laufounder, Unconventional companies
- McKeever Conwellfounder, RareBreed Ventures
Hessie Jones, Partner, MATR Ventures
What was your first reaction to Roe’s knockdown? What other impacts has Roe’s reversal had on your business and investment strategy?
I grew up in the Catholic system, which vehemently opposed abortion and women’s right to decide what to do with their own bodies. I am also a Canadian, and our laws regarding abortion and maternal rights are very different from those in the United States.
The Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health involves the rights mentioned in the 14th Amendment – in particular, a woman’s right to privacy under the “due process clause”, which affirmed her right to choose to have an abortion – leaves all previous civil rights vulnerable to being overturned.
The alleged misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment in this notice is turning back the clock on the rights that women have been fighting for years.
Where legislation continues to lag behind, it is important that technology takes a proactive stance to bring transparency to current and future innovations and mitigate the kinds of risks we see today: personal information exposure, data surveillance and use of personal information that will ultimately inflict harm on individuals and groups.
This is already happening, and now it has found its way into communities where reproductive data is exploited against those affected.
Will the Dobbs decision affect the criteria you use to perform due diligence?
Absolutely! Apps that have been used to help women, like Flow, Glowing and Cue, can be armed with warrants to identify those who request or could request an abortion. Data collected by these apps and Big Tech may be sold, breached, or acquired through government warrants without regard to the rights of the subject.
Due diligence must extend beyond the “intentions” of the founder. We need to ask ourselves: to what extent can this technology be used for other use cases beyond its current intent? What is the imminent risk to individuals or groups? Additionally, we must, at the very least, require privacy-by-design standards and the security of the infrastructure that acquires any personal data.
We must scrutinize the intentions of the founders, how the data will be used, who the partners are, to what extent the data will be shared and for what purposes. We’ve come to a perilous crossroads where technology has contributed to damage, and now we need to force founders to be more accountable for what they build.