One of the Perhaps the most pressing issues the US must prepare for is the future it faces after the fall of Roe v. Wade.
When the midterm elections come, voters will vote for the candidates and consequently take measures that will dictate access to abortion and other human rights issues. The role that venture capital should play in all of this is becoming increasingly apparent: There has been a push to fund more reproductive health companies, include access to health care in ESG investments, and the safest places to start a business. open to re-evaluate female employees.
To get a clearer picture of what lies ahead, TBEN+ surveyed eight investors and found out what they believe the role of venture should be in a post-Roe world. McKeever Conwell, the founder of RareBreed Ventures, noted the weak relationship between venture capital and ethics. He said that while there are some who may not care about human rights issues related to investing, he wants to double down on funding startups focusing on reproductive health.
Theodora Lau, the founder of Unconventional Ventures, said she believes more venture capitalists should take political stances on issues. “Access to healthcare is a right; it’s not politics,” she said. “These are existential issues that should concern all of us, regardless of our role.”
We’re broadening our lens and looking for more – and more diverse – investors to include in TBEN surveys where we survey top professionals about challenges in their industry.
If you are an investor who would like to participate in future surveys, please complete this form.
“Where legislation is lagging, it’s important that technology takes a proactive stance to bring transparency to current and future innovations and reduce the kind of risks we see today.” Hessie Jones, partner, MATR Ventures
In the meantime, Hessie Jones, a partner at MATR Ventures, said the due diligence process needs to go deeper to identify the risks of developing new technology. “Due due diligence must go beyond the point of the founders’ intentions. We have to ask: what is the potential that this technology can be used for use cases other than its current intent? What is the imminent risk to people or groups?”
Finally, almost everyone we spoke to is keeping an eye out for change that could come in November. “Voice,” Lau said. “With your vote, with your action and with your wallet.”
We spoke with:
- Hessie Jones, partner, MATR Ventures
- Lisa Calhoun, Gary Peat and William Leonard, Valor Ventures
- Mecca Tartt, Executive Director, Startup Runway
- Ed Zimmerman, Co-Founder, First Close Partners
- Theodora Lau, Founder, Unconventional Ventures
- McKeever Conwell, Founder, RareBreed Ventures
Hessie Jones, partner, MATR Ventures
What was your first reaction to Roe’s overthrow? What are other effects Roe’s overthrow has had on your business and investment strategy?
I grew up in the Catholic system, which strongly opposed abortion and the right of women to decide what to do with their own bodies. I am also Canadian and our laws regarding abortion and maternal rights are very different from the US
The Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health decision implies the rights referenced in the 14th Amendment — specifically, a woman’s right to privacy under the “due process clause,” which affirmed her right to choose whether she wanted an abortion undergone – leaves all civil rights precedents vulnerable to be overturned.
The supposed misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment in this advisory turns the clock back on the rights women have been fighting for for years.
Where legislation is lagging, it is important for technology to take a proactive stance to bring transparency to current and future innovations and to mitigate the types of risks we see today: exposure of personal information, data surveillance and use of personal information that ultimately harm individuals and groups.
This is already happening and has now made its way into communities where reproductive data is being used against those involved.
Does the Dobbs decision affect the criteria you use to conduct due diligence?
Absolute! Apps that have been used to help women, such as Flow, Glowing, and Cue, can be armed with warrants to identify those who want or intend to have an abortion. The data collected by these apps and Big Tech can be sold, infringed or obtained through government orders without regard to the rights of the subject.
Due diligence should go beyond the founder’s “intentions” point. We have to ask: what is the potential that this technology can be used for use cases other than its current intent? What is the imminent risk to people or groups? We must also, at a minimum, set requirements for privacy-by-design standards and the security of the infrastructure that collects personal data.
We need to examine the founders’ intentions, how the data is used, who the partners are, to what extent data is shared and for what purposes. We’ve reached a dangerous crossroads where technology has contributed to damage, and we must now tax the founders to take more responsibility for what they build.