Keeping Score: Biden Signs Bill for Maternity Care, Reinstates “Remain in Mexico” Policy; More Evidence Supports COVID Vaccination During Pregnancy

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 left: a judge ordered Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming surgeries in Iowa (Twitter / @KristinaS_Trib); Biden reimplements Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy for asylum seekers (Greens MPs / Flickr); Biden signed the first of 12 Momnibus bills meant to address high maternal mortality in the U.S. (Pxhere / Creative Commons).

Lest We Forget

“Once again, the Texas Legislature has prioritized politics over the needs of everyday Texans. Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) bans the use of medication abortion drugs after 49 days gestation which is before the majority of people know they are pregnant and is in direct contradiction to the safety guidelines determined by the Food and Drug Administration. … Instead of focusing on increasing access to women’s health services by fully funding women’s health programs, or following the recommendation of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force by extending the Medicaid for Pregnant Women’s program to 12 months, Texas will once again implement a completely unnecessary and medically inaccurate law.”

—Texas House Women’s Health Caucus in a statement on the implementation of Senate Bill 4, which banned medication abortion effective Thursday, Dec. 2.

“He came over with his mother. Really a nice young man. And what he went through, that was prosecutorial misconduct. He should not have had to suffer through a trial for that. He’s a really good, young guy.”

—Former President Donald Trump told TV host Sean Hannity of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who “wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan.” Rittenhouse was found not guilty after being charged with the murder or two men during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.

“This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens. Decade after decade, courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting strength of Latino and Black voters and that violate the Voting Rights Act. … The Justice Department stands ready to protect the constitutionally guaranteed voting rights of Americans in Texas and indeed throughout the country.”

—Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta on the lawsuit brought by the Justice Department against the state of Texas, due to discriminatory redistricting practices which diluted minority voters’ influence.

“I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers. You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.'”

—Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) recalling an Islamophobic confrontation with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) at the Capitol, in which she accused Omar of being a threat to her and her staffer.

Milestones

+ Over a year and half after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, the three men responsible for chasing and shooting him were convicted of murder on Wednesday, Nov. 24. They face mandatory sentences of life in prison, with a total of 23 guilty verdicts.

+ President Joe Biden signed the first of 12 ‘Momnibus’ bills on Tuesday, Nov. 30, providing $15 million in maternity care for veterans. The package was created by the Black Maternal Health Caucus to address maternal mortality, which has been on the rise in the U.S. since 1987.

+ Judge William Kelly ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services to provide coverage of gender-affirming surgeries for transgender patients, despite a state law prohibiting Medicaid funding of such procedures. The judge ruled that the law contradicts the state’s existing laws and constitution.

+ The Biden administration and Mexican government came to an agreement to reimplement former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed.

+ Voting rights advocate and former state Representative Stacey Abrams announced her second run for governor of Georgia in 2022 on Wednesday, Dec. 1, with the potential to become the first Black woman to hold the office.

+ CNN anchor Chris Cuomo—brother of former New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D)—was fired from his post Saturday, Dec. 4 after helping his brother respond to sexual harassment allegations, and being accused of sexual misconduct himself.

“Hearing the hypocrisy of Chris Cuomo’s on-air words and disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women, my client retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN,” said Debra Katz, the attorney for the woman who came forward.

+ Despite sexual misconduct allegations, comedian Louis C.K. and singer Marilyn Manson were both nominated for Grammy awards this year. Allegations against Manson by past partners include sexual abuse and assault, though neither he nor C.K. have been charged.

How We’re Doing

+ Firms with more women in the C-suite are more open to change, cautious of risk, and enjoy greater collaboration amongst leaders, new research found.

+ Just 34 percent of pregnant people are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC, as compared with almost 70 percent of the general population. Many expectant mothers were hesitant due to the lack of data from vaccine clinical trials, which excluded pregnant participants.

However, new evidence continues to support vaccination during pregnancy. New research and the safe vaccine rollout amongst pregnant Americans “have demonstrated repeatedly that the vaccine is safe and effective, has no harm to the pregnant woman herself, has no concerns for the fetus,” said obstetrics and gynecology professor Dr. Geeta Swamy. “There is no reason to delay.”

+ As the labor market continues to recover from COVID-19 closures, unemployment claims in the U.S. have reached their lowest level since November 1969, the Labor Department announced Wednesday, Nov. 24. They decreased by 71,000 to just 199,000 weekly claims.

+ There is “evidence of a persistent gender gap among appellate attorneys arguing before the Seventh Circuit,” according to study from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. The study predicts it will be another 40 years before the gender gap narrows entirely.

“Despite a strong pipeline of talented women attorneys, men outnumber women arguing before the Seventh Circuit nearly three to one—a gender gap that has barely improved over the last decade. This finding adds to a growing body of literature documenting the persistent underrepresentation of women in the legal profession, including as lead counsel, supreme court litigants, law firm partners, judges, and general counsel. Across all these domains, a clear picture has emerged: the pipeline is leaking,” the researchers concluded.

+ Women physicians make 25 percent less than men over the course of a 40-year career, a survey of 80,000 doctors revealed that—totaling a $2 million pay discrepancy.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a rising sophomore at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.