In US federal grants intended to help poor women obtain contraceptives are being used to promote a tracking app funded and operated by anti-birth control and anti-abortion campaigners. The Femm app sows doubt about the birth control pill and promotes itself as a natural way for women to “avoid or achieve” pregnancy. The app collects women’s most intimate data, including details on menstruation, sex, mood and prescription drugs. Its developers say it has download more than 400,000 times.
The app is led by the nonprofit Femm Foundation, whose board opposes abortion, and whose leaders have repeatedly refused to answer questions from the Guardian on how effective the method is as a contraceptive. One of the foundation’s leading board members, Sean Fieler, is a prominent Republican political donor and a vocal supporter of Trump’s anti-abortion policies.
Anti abortion doctor
Federal grants for family planning, part of the Title X program, are meant to be awarded, “to offer a broad range of acceptable and effective medically [FDA] approve contraceptive methods and relate services”, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. “Given the lack of evidence about its effectiveness and concerns about messages discouraging other family planning methods, the Femm app and program do not appear to be in line with a public health approach or goals,” said Andrea Swartzendruber, a public health researcher at the University of Georgia.
Neither Obria nor Femm respond to repeat questions about how effective Femm’s methods are at preventing pregnancy. In general, natural family planning methods have a failure rate of up to 33 pregnancies per 100 women per year, according to the most recent available evidence published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Unlike other fertility awareness base methods; so for example the Natural Cycles app, Femm is not approve by the US Food and Drug Administration contraceptive. It appears to be the first ideologically align menstruation tracking app.
The Obria Group goes on to describe the Femm Foundations’s “research arm”, the Reproductive Health Research Institute (RHRI). In fact, RHRI is operate by an anti-abortion doctor base in Santiago, Chile; whose primarily affiliation is with a Catholic university. The doctor is not license to practice in the United States. Femm is also list in Obria’s application as part of their “basic infertility services”. There is no publish data about the efficacy of Femm as an infertility treatment.
Against reproductive rights
Femm is closely affiliate with the World Youth Alliance, an anti-abortion nonprofit; which often lobbies against reproductive rights at the United Nations. World Youth Alliance and Femm share an office in Manhattan. They also share funders. One of Femm’s former board members, Ellen Roy, is also a border member of the Obria Group.
“Femm’s program is base upon a particular religious ideology that forbids birth control; also instead promotes fertility awareness; so one of the least effective methods for avoiding pregnancy,” said Alice Huling, counsel for the left-leaning watchdog group Campaign for Accountability; which pushes for greater access to reproductive health services.
CRC did not respond to questions about whether; so the efforts was change because of the smaller award; but said: “Femm is a comprehensive women’s health program commit to expanding information, research; also knowledge about women’s reproductive health. It is an easy way for women to understand their fertility, and their overall health.” The Femm Foundation CEO Halpine said: “Femm is please to support Federally Qualify Health Centers that provide science; also evidence base health education to economically disadvantage and under-served populations. Femm thinks that every woman deserves to be educate and empower about her body and cycle.”