Keeping Score: Hyde Amendment Excluded from Senate Appropriations Bill; the U.S.’s First Trans Four-Star Admiral; Who’s Pushing for Paid Leave?

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Clockwise from top left: Biden approved a new Colorado mandate that many private health insurance companies cover gender affirmation care for transgender residents (Twitter / @KristinaS_Trib); Senate spending bill excludes the Hyde Amendment, which bans Medicaid coverage of abortion (Joe Piette / Flickr); Pete Buttigieg is on paternal leave to care for his newborn twins (Pete Buttigieg / Instagram).

Lest We Forget

“In the richest country in the world, having time to heal or provide care without falling off a financial cliff should not be a matter of luck. It should be a basic right for every working person. …

What working people want is simple: to care for and provide for ourselves and our loved ones. That care will be possible only with a permanent, sustainable paid family and medical leave policy. Federal paid family and medical leave builds on decades of successful statewide programs like the one that will start in Connecticut next year. We need Congress to act on a policy.”

—Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund representative Nija Phelps in a Stamford Advocate op-ed demanding 12 weeks of paid family leave.

“The big thing is having a newly personal appreciation for the fact that this is work. It may be time away from a professional role, but it’s very much time on. … It’s one thing to believe something as a matter of policy. It’s another to live it and see how much of a difference it could make.”

—Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his experience with paid parental leave and the need for national policy mandating time off to care for family.

“What, you think money can ever repay what you stole? Give me land, give me all the blood you ripped out of our backs, our veins. Give me every snapped neck and the noose you wove to hoist the body up. Give me the screams you silenced in so many dark and lustful rooms. Give me the songs you said were yours but you know came out of our lips first. Give me back Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.

Give me back the beauty of my hair. The swell of my hips. The big of my lips. Give me back the whole Atlantic Ocean. Give me a never-ending blue. And a mule.”

—Alabama’s newest poet laureate Ashley M. Jones in “Reparations Now, Reparations Tomorrow, Reparations Forever,” a poem published in September 2021.

Milestones

+ President Joe Biden approved a new mandate out of Colorado that requires many private health insurance companies cover gender affirmation care for transgender residents. Such services include hormone therapy and genital reconstruction—both of which were already covered by Medicaid in Colorado and several other states. This is the first time the federal government has signed off on such a requirement, paving the way for other states to implement similar policy.

+ Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine was sworn in as an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on Tuesday, Oct. 19, becoming the first openly transgender four-star admiral in the organization’s history.

Swearing-in of Dr. Rachel Levine to the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, officially becoming the first openly transgender four-star officer in the uniformed services and first female four-star admiral. (Twitter)

+ For the first time in decades, a spending bill released by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, Oct. 18 excludes the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited abortion coverage for those on Medicaid, as well as the Weldon Amendment, which encouraged medical institutions to deny care and coverage.

“We are thrilled to see these important spending bills introduced without anti-choice policies that have blocked access to abortion care for far too long. This victory has been a long time coming and it is the result of steadfast leadership and work by women of color and our reproductive justice partners,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America Chief Campaigns and Advocacy Officer Christian LoBue.

+ After making its way through several district judges and back to the Supreme Court for the second time, Texas’s S.B. 8 abortion ban remains in effect, though the Court granted the Biden administration’s request for expedited review. The two casesU.S. v. Texas and Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson—will now be up for review Nov. 1.

+ 2021 marks the first year more than 100 abortion restrictions were passed nationwide. The Guttmacher Institute’s tally had already hit 106 as of early October—the first time it had ever entered the triple digits—with more than two months still left in the year.

+ The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved booster vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday, Oct. 20, simultaneously condoning a mix and match approach for those eligible for boosters. (The Washington Post released a questionnaire to help U.S. residents determine their eligibility.)

+ Documents retrieved by Human Rights Watch (HRW) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reveal years of sexual and physical abuse towards asylum seekers at the U.S. border. More than 160 cases of such behavior are noted in the files between 2016 and 2021.

HRW said their findings “paint a picture of DHS as an agency that appears to have normalized shocking abuses at the US border. The US should take urgent and sustained action to stop such abuses.”

How We’re Doing

+ Women do more work to combat climate change than men do, including changing their own behaviors to reduce emissions, according to a survey by the Women’s Forum. However, women are still vastly outnumbered amongst government officials charged with mitigating climate change.

+ The 2020 Census may have undercounted Black U.S. residents by as many as 2 million, according to an analysis of the 2020 and 2010 data. As a result, services like Medicaid, housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could face significant cuts.

“This might be our greatest undercount since 1960, or 1950,” said National Urban League president Marc Morial. Even the 2010 Census is thought to have undercounted at a rate three times lower.

+ An annual survey of corporate directors found that more than seven in 10 (71 percent) think that boards will not become more diverse without intervention, and almost half (47 percent) believe one or more peers should be replaced as directors.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a freshman at Tufts University. She was a Ms. editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.