Keeping Score: 49th Roe Anniversary Sees Record Abortion Restrictions; Federal Employees Achieve $15 Minimum Wage; Sotomayor Calls S.B. 8 “Egregious Violation of Constitutional Rights”

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.


Lest We Forget

“Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights. … This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies. I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee. … The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”

—Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissenting opinion joined by fellow liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Read the entire dissent here.
An abortion rights rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, the day the six-week abortion ban went into effect in the state. “Abortion is essential. Abortion is health care,” the group chanted. “Bans off our bodies!” (Roxy Szal)

“Fifty-two senators refused to protect our right to vote. They are on the wrong side of history and we will not forget. … AAPIs have some of the highest rates of limited English proficiency. Voter restriction laws that limit absentee and early voting, and other barriers, are designed to discourage AAPIs from exercising their right to vote by making it harder to navigate the increased bureaucracy to cast their ballots.

We are a powerful voting block and the nation’s fastest-growing population—laws that make it more difficult for people to vote strip away our rights and directly harm the families and communities we care for every day.”

—Executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), Sung Yeon Choimorrow, on the Senate’s failure to pass voting rights legislation due to Republican opposition.

“This year’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade could not come at a more pivotal moment in the fight for reproductive freedom. In 2021, more than 100 restrictions on abortion access were enacted at the state level, making it the worst year for abortion rights since Roe was decided. With the Supreme Court poised to hand down a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a direct challenge to Roe, these extremists may finally have the chance to do just that. … We will not stop fighting until every person has the freedom to make their own decisions about their lives, bodies, and futures, free from political interference.”

—NARAL Pro-Choice America commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.

“As the largest employer in the country, how the federal government treats its workforce has real impact. The Biden-Harris Administration believes that the federal workforce should be treated with dignity and respect. Raising pay rates across the federal government to a minimum of $15 per hour reflects our appreciation for the federal workforce and our values as a nation. We know that paying a living wage provides a myriad of benefits, from recruitment to retention to increased productivity, and more. It’s also the right thing to do. We should strive for every federal job to be a good job, and we want to ensure that every federal employee has a pathway to the middle class. Increasing pay rates to at least $15 per hour will keep the federal government competitive in the marketplace and is another way that we can serve as a model employer, setting a high bar for other sectors to follow.”

—Kiran Ahuja, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), announcing a $15 per hour minimum wage for U.S federal employees.

Milestones

+ In an unanimous vote, the Minneapolis City Council selected Andrea Jenkins as their first openly transgender, Black woman president. She will lead the Council in navigating the future of policing and public safety following George Floyd’s murder.

“We represent a diversity of thought, of ideas and solutions to the most pressing issues of our time,” Jenkins said. “We have a whole lot of work to do.”

(Peep this Ms. interview with Jenkins from 2018, then a Minneapolis city council member.)

Andrea Jenkins has been elected president of the Minneapolis City Council, making her the first out transgender person to hold such a post in the U.S. (Facebook)

+ Several state lawmakers have proposed legislation similar to Texas’s S.B. 8 implemented in September, which banned abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy. One such bill in Oklahoma, introduced by state Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Okla.), would authorize lawsuits of up to $10,000 against physicians who provide abortions, unless it is to save the life of the pregnant person.

+ At just 17 years old, Genevieve Beacom became the first woman pitcher for a professional baseball team in Australia. She pitched for the Melbourne Aces in a game against the Adelaide Giants on Saturday, Jan. 8.

+ Keira D’Amato set a new record of 2:19:12 in the women’s marathon on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 37 years old. Her two children were present to watch their mother make history.

+ Under a $1.5 million program titled Strong Families, new and expecting mothers in some D.C. neighborhoods—Wards 5, 7 and 8—will be eligible for $900 of monthly assistance, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced.

+ The New Jersey General Assembly voted 46-22 on Monday, Jan. 10 to pass the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act. The legislation will secure the right to abortion in the state, and authorize physicians as well as other professionals to perform the procedures.

+ The U.S. Mint announced Monday, Jan. 10 that Maya Angelou will be the first Black woman pictured on a quarter—though former President George Washington maintains his position on the “heads” side of the coin.

Meanwhile, several years into the process initiated by President Barack Obama, abolitionist Harriet Tubman is still yet to replace slaveowner and former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. The Biden administration has said it would “speed up” efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, but their hands may be tied. Don’t expect to see the Tubman $20 till 2030 or later.

+ On Sunday, Jan. 9, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez won a Golden Globe award for her performance in Pose, making history as the first transgender woman to do so.

“This is the door that is going to open the door for many more young talented individuals,” Rodriguez wrote after winning the award for Best Actress. “They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS. To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

+ California governor Gavin Newsom’s (D) proposed $227 billion budget would provide $20 million in tuition subsidies to healthcare students who commit to providing abortion services once they enter the field.

“This budget proposal provides flexibility and opportunity for increasing access to abortion; however, these investments are only part of what we must do if California is going to continue to lead in the reproductive health, rights, and justice space,” Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President and CEO Jodi Hicks said in a statement.

+ Denying a request by Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to wear a mask when he took the bench earlier this month. Concerned for her safety as a diabetic, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was forced to participate remotely as a result.

How We’re Doing

+ Women patients are almost one-third (32 percent) more likely to die after surgery if they are operated on by a male surgeon, a study published in the JAMA Surgery journal revealed. Complication and death rates were notably lower among those with female surgeons.

+ A report from the Center for Intimacy Justice revealed that Facebook rejected ads from 60 companies for women’s sexual health. The companies provided services for menstruation, fertility, menopause and more. The report found that most of the ads were rejected because they supposedly contain “adult content.”

+ Only one in five Americans remain confident in the U.S.’s election system one year after the Jan. 6 insurrection, dropping 17 percent since January 2021. Thirty percent of Democrats still have faith despite concern surrounding voting rights, as compared with 20 percent of independents and 13 percent of Republicans.

+ More patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the beginning of January than any other week since the pandemic began in the U.S. The 145,982 COVID patients filled 30 percent of ICU beds as of Tuesday, Jan. 11.

+ A total of 108 abortion restrictions were enacted in 2021—the most since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Forty-four percent of the total restrictions passed since Roe were implemented in just the past 10 years.

+ Twenty-five countries set annual temperature records in 2021, and the past seven years were the hottest ever recorded according to a report from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Berkeley Earth.

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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_.