Keeping Score: Women Win Big in the Winter Olympics; State Legislatures Widen the Abortion Access Gap; Supreme Court Dilutes the Power of Black Voters in Alabama

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

“When anti-transgender actions like misgendering or deadnaming, or the promotion of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ occur on platforms like TikTok, they create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online and too often lead to real world harm.”

—GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis on an update to TikTok’s guidelines which explicitly prohibits “deadnaming, misgendering, or misogyny.”

“TikTok has become a little safer for women, LGBQ and trans people today. We applaud TikTok for responding effectively to our recommendations and implementing them into an updated, more protective user policy. Even so, it’s clear social media platforms have a long way to go across the board.”

—Bridget Todd, communications director of UltraViolet, a gender equity organization.

(Pixabay / Creative Commons)

“We’ve heard a flood of stories of sexual assault and harassment that has gone unchecked for far too long. But little known legal agreements hidden in all sorts of places have continued to bar millions of Americans from speaking out or seeking justice. From employment paperwork and lease agreements to the terms and conditions for apps and services, the majority of Americans have unknowingly signed their rights away. Nullifying these ‘forced arbitration’ clauses for sexual assault and harassment claims will let survivors’ voices be heard.

—Congresswoman Cheri Bustos on legislation passed by the House on Monday, Feb. 7, which will override agreements required arbitration of sexual assault or harassment cases.

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of (Valieva’s) situation and mines? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady. … Not one BLACK athlete has been about to compete with a case going on, I don’t care what they say!!!”

—After Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was permitted to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics despite a positive doping test, sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson raised questions via Twitter regarding why her case in the Summer Games was treated differently. As a Black runner for the U.S., Richardson was barred from competing for a month after she tested positive for cannabis.

“At a time when the stakes for abortion care could not be higher, we look forward to a commissioner who will follow the science and advance public health for reproductive health and justice issues. After reviewing decades of research showing medication abortion is safe and effective, the FDA recently took a significant step to permanently lift some of its unnecessary restrictions so that more people, especially people of color working to make ends meet, can get care. This is just one piece of the puzzle to ensure that our communities can get their medication abortion care in the way that makes sense for them.”

—All* Above All co-president Destiny Lopez on the confirmation of Dr. Robert Califf as FDA commissioner, just two months after the FDA announced that medication abortion could be dispensed by mail.

Milestones

+ After a three-judge court has ordered the redrawing of new district lines in Alabama—objecting to the dilution of Black voters come the next federal election—the Supreme Court restored the original voting map. The Court’s three liberal justices, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, affirmed the lower court’s concerns in dissent.

State legis­latures enacted far more restrict­ive voting laws in 2021 than in any year since voting rights organizations began tracking this data in 2011. (NAACP / Instagram)

+ The only unisex ski-jumping team to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics, Norway’s men and women athletes brought home a record number of medals by working together and learning from each other.

“We don’t search for obstacles. There are more than enough people in the world looking for obstacles. That we can leave to them,” said the team’s manager, Clas Brede Brathen. “We just search for opportunities.” 

+ Women brought home 17 of Team USA’s 25 medals in the Beijing Olympics, competing in more events than in any previous Olympic games.

+ With former gynecologist-oncologist James Heaps of University of California at Los Angeles facing 21 counts of sexual abuse, the University regents agreed to a $243.6 million settlement. This sum is in addition to the $73 million a California district court approved last summer.

At Harvard University, three female graduate students are suing for the handling of sexual harassment claims. The allegations include that the university ignored their concerns and allowed anthropologist John Comaroff to leverage students’ academic success to prevent reports against him.

+ University of Michigan economist Susan Collins (not that one!) will be the first Black woman to lead a U.S. central bank when she takes over as the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“It is a remarkable advancement when you consider that America had a Black president before any of the 12 regional banks had a Black president,” said Brookings Institution senior fellow Aaron Klein. “Hopefully Dr. Collins will bring a fresh perspective to the Fed, which could benefit from new thinking.”

+ Several state legislatures are considering legislation that would make abortion more difficult for residents. Wisconsin Republicans are pushing through a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks, once a fetal heartbeat is detected. A bill in New Hampshire proposes the same, while two others seek to allow prospective fathers to bar pregnant people from receiving abortions, and to eliminate safety zones at abortion clinics.

In Georgia, Republicans in a Senate committee approved a bill that bans sending abortion pills by mail. It would require patients to see a physician in person before to receive the medication. The Arizona Senate also voted to ban abortion after 15 weeks, despite objections that it contradicts Roe v. Wade.

Legislation passed by the Vermont House, however, would protect abortion rights in the state by amending the state constitution to include “Reproductive Liberty.”

 2021 was the worst year for abortion rights in almost half a century. (Lorie Shaull / Flickr)

+ Globally, Colombia became the third Latin American country to decriminalize abortion, legalizing the procedure through 24 weeks of pregnancy.

How We’re Doing

+ Only two Latina women have ever served as governors of U.S. states, but this year six Latinas are running as major-party candidates in gubernatorial primaries, from New Mexico to Massachusetts.

“There are these classist, racist and sexist ideas of who can and should be a leader in this country,” said LatinasRepresent program director Stephanie Lopez. “And women of color have the additional burden of tackling those three issues head on. I think the media does play a significant role in the narratives that are created around these particular individuals.”

+ Women place high importance on political solutions to their societal concerns, a YMCA USA and Finn Partners survey shows, with more than half reporting they are deeply invested in voting in the upcoming midterm elections.

+ A record 36 openly LGBTQ+ Olympians competed in Beijing this winter, more than doubling the number that participated in the last Winter Olympics. They span nine different sports, but 12 are ice hockey players and 10 are figure skaters.

The Games also include 46 women’s events, beating the previous 2018 record of 44, and four new mix-gender events. As a result, more than half (53 percent) of events will include women athletes.

+ In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, children’s books saw a stark increase in the prevalence of Black characters. It was the first time in history that children’s bestsellers featured more Black characters than white ones. However, since then, Black characters in children’s best-sellers fell by 23 percent.

+ A study on pharmacies in Georgia found that only 57 percent of them had Plan B in stock, and just 1 percent had Ella. The lack of emergency contraception available, especially in the rural South, could contribute to the high rates of unintended and teen pregnancy, as well as maternal mortality.

+ Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana and southern Nevada—all within close proximity of Texas—have seen up to twice as many patients in abortion clinics since Texas’s S.B. was implemented last September. Kathaleen Pittman, the administrator for Hope Medical Group in Shreveport, Louisiana, said more than half her clinic’s patients are now Texas residents.

“We’re concerned. We’ve been working our tails off, to tell you the truth,” said Pittman. “I don’t think running the clinic has been this difficult since I took over in 2010. This has been the most challenging.”

+ The loss of the child tax credit last month resulted in a nearly 5 percent increase in child poverty, reaching 17 percent for the first time since 2020. The the change disproportionately impacted Black and Latino children, who saw increases of 30 and 43 percent respectively.

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

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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_.