If the Dobbs decision was a spark, the midterm election results were the fuel that drives an access to abortion care and beyond, according to a cadre of health tech executives and founders.
Why it matters: At a time when some states and the federal government are taking away reproductive health rights while others are choosing to protect them, the leaders of private companies see their role as more important than ever, executives told Axios at HLTH.
- “Women want control because it’s so limited,” said Lori Evans Bernstein, the chief executive officer of virtual-first women’s health startup Caraway, which she says will offer the mifepristone abortion pill next year.
- “We definitely want to be in the abortion business,” said Carolyn Witte, the CEO of Tia, which operates a network of women’s health clinics and provides medication abortion via telemedicine in New York and California.
Game Condition: After the Supreme Court in June Roe v. Wade overturned, five states voted in the midterm elections to protect access to abortion rather than restrict it.
Context: Policy uncertainty aside, more employers are seeking to offer abortion and reproductive care, and investor support has increased for companies that offer those services.
- “All of our investors supported our move into this space,” says Witte, referring to Tia’s decision in May to offer telemedicine abortions.
- Last December, the FDA removed the in-person requirement to offer the mifepristone abortion pill, making it more accessible via telehealth.
Plus, A spate of recent suicides across college campuses — especially among female athletes and with several following sexual assault or rape — has inspired women’s health companies to focus more on mental health.
- “Anxiety and depression have been the biggest problems in our practice for a long time,” says Witte.
What they say: Founders and CEOs tell Axios that these trends have had a significant impact on their work — and especially on the services they will offer next.
- “Women’s health includes and exceeds our reproductive capacity,” Carrot Fertility CEO Tammy Sun told Axios. The company began offering medication for menopause symptoms in September.
- “There’s now an overwhelming belief that fertility is a big, big category and not a niche,” adds Sun.
- “There’s a power in having a collective voice,” says Kate Ryder, the CEO of virtual maternity and family care company Maven Clinic, which raised $90 million in Series E funding this month.
What is next: Leaders of women-focused health technology companies want to integrate reproductive care, mental health and menopause treatment into what is widely considered standard primary care.
- “My ultimate vision is abortion should be part of the standard of care for primary care, just like pink eye or strep,” says Witte.