Claim: Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) cleared the path for an "extreme" bill "allowing police to seek menstrual histories."
Why it matters: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Democrats and liberal media outlets like the Guardian have spread alarm that police may seize data from women's period-tracking apps to target and prosecute women seeking abortions.
Context: A bill passed by the Virginia state Senate that would have prohibited search warrants for menstrual data on electronic devices died in a state House subcommittee on Monday, after Youngkin's deputy secretary of public safety expressed opposition to the bill.
The Youngkin official argued the bill would be "problematic" because it would represent the first legislation in the nation to limit certain information from being obtained through a search warrant.
Analysis: Youngkin this week played a role in defeating a bill that would have imposed an unprecedented limitation on law enforcement's power to issue search warrants. He did not, as the Guardian declared, help pass a bill, let alone an "extreme" one that would permit police to seize women's menstrual histories.
The Guardian headline got the facts of the case wholly wrong. In any case, panic over Youngkin's role in tabling the state Senate bill is undermined by the fact that state law does not permit law enforcement to prosecute patients who violate abortion restrictions, so menstrual data would be of little use for police looking to target women. And Youngkin has explicitly ruled out pursuing women for prosecution, with his spokeswoman telling the Washington Post, "The governor will not support any measures that seek to prosecute women."
More than just bungling the facts, the Guardian committed the serious offense of disseminating misinformation in the public sphere. The outlet's four tweets featuring the false headline have not been deleted, and the Guardian did not issue a correction after stealth-editing the headline in the original article.
Sadly, the damage was already done. Celebrities, including comedian and recently canned TBS host Samantha Bee, amplified the Guardian's false headline, perpetuating a vicious fake news cycle that puts our democratic institutions at risk.