Keeping Score: Abortion and LGBTQ Rights Backslide in Florida and Texas; Maternal Mortality up 20% Last Year; Abortion Seekers Favor Medication Abortion

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

“All children deserve to grow up healthy and learn to take care of their bodies in a way that helps them live full, happy lives. For transgender kids, this might include gender-affirming care that has been endorsed by pediatricians and proven to help kids’ mental health and future wellbeing. … Disinformation, being spread about transgender people and their healthcare, highlights, exaggerates and imagines a non-existent problem as an urgent moral emergency that must be tackled right now – days before the primary election.”

—Equality Texas, a statewide nonprofit working towards equal rights for LGBTQ+ residents, on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent classification of gender-affirming care as child abuse.

“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated. He thought he could roll into Ukraine, and the world would roll over. Instead, he met with a wall of strength he never anticipated or imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.

“From President Zelensky to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, literally inspires the world. Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees to teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland. In this struggle, as President Zelensky said in his speech to the European Parliament, ‘light will win over darkness.'”

—President Joe Biden opened his State of the Union speech with a firm stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Anti-choice politicians are using every trick in the book to restrict reproductive freedom, and the Supreme Court’s decision in this case gives them the greenlight to continue their efforts to undermine our fundamental rights. This case is a perfect example of the lengths that anti-choice politicians like Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron will go to in order to enforce unconstitutional abortion bans. There’s no question that, should the ban underlying this case take effect, it will roll back people’s freedom to make their own decisions about their lives, bodies, and futures.”

—NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju in a statement on Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, a Supreme Court ruling which condones Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s last-minute defense of an unconstitutional statewide abortion ban.

“Sometimes we think it’s just all a dream, that we’re stuck inside some kind of a video game. Because you just live in a quiet society, and then you hear bombings and you wake up to the sound of bombings. … A few hours ago I heard bombings and my windows were shaking. … I’m literally scared for my life.

This is not a very rainbow-friendly place. … Lives for trans people are very bleak here. If you have a male gender in your passport, they will not let you go abroad. They will not let you through.”

—Zi Faámelu, a Ukrainian transgender woman shedding light on the unique circumstances and threats of violence faced by LGBTQ+ people fleeing conflict in Eastern Europe.

“I tell my daughters, ‘Well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.'”

—Michigan House candidate Robert Regan on a Facebook livestream hosted by the conservative Rescue Michigan Coalition, in response to the question of whether it is still worth it to challenge the 2020 presidential election outcome.

“Kids can’t read, Randy, and they want to teach them to be woke and put on a condom.”

Regan, at it again. His daughter, Stephanie Regan, took to Twitter urging Michigan residents not to vote for her father, though he is favored to win the District 74 seat.

Milestones

+ After the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy which prohibited federally funded clinics from making abortion referrals, a federal court ruled in Biden’s favor, denying Republican attorney generals who sought to reinstate the ban.

+ Colombia legalized abortion through 24 weeks of pregnancy on Monday, Feb. 21, joining Mexico and Argentina in making abortion more accessible in Latin America.

+ Biden’s Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is scheduled for Senate hearings beginning on Monday, March 21. She could be confirmed by mid-April, becoming the first Black women justice on the Supreme Court.

During his presidency, Biden is also expected to triple the number of Black women judges in federal appeals courts.

+ If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, Arizona would be the most affected state in the nation, at a high risk of banning abortion and with a predicted 40.3 percent decrease in its abortion rate.

+ In Florida, meanwhile, both Houses passed legislation that would ban abortion after 15 weeks. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to sign it.

Another bill that passed the Florida Senate on Tuesday, March 8 would prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The Parental Rights in Education bill, otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and would go into effect on July 1.

+ Connecticut is poised to establish the right to abortion in its state Constitution, with the proposal already endorsed by a legislative committee. Lawmakers took inspiration from a similar amendment in Vermont.

+ After three men were charged with federal hate crimes for murdering Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, a Georgia jury found them guilty on Tuesday, Feb. 22. All three face maximum life sentences.

+ An agreement between U.S. Soccer and its women’s players includes a $24 million settlement, and a promise to pay women athletes just as much as their male counterparts. “I think it was just extremely motivating to see organizations and employers admit their wrongdoing, and us forcing their hand in making it right,” former women’s co-captain Alex Morgan said. “The domino effect that we helped kick-start—I think we’re really proud of it.”

+ Asian American communities in Albuquerque, New Mexico were recently shaken by two shootings in just one month, with both targeting Asian-owned spas. The first in January resulted in the death of Sihui Fang, owner of Wonderful Massage, and another victim was killed during a second shooting at Canna Spa in February.

How We’re Doing

+ Contraception access was negatively impacted by COVID-19, especially as a result of increased financial instability, according to a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health. Survey respondents in Arizona (57 percent), Wisconsin (30 percent) and Iowa (38 percent) reported that the pandemic delayed or obstructed their access to sexual and reproductive health care.

+ Maternal mortality data demonstrated a nearly 20 percent increase from 2019 to 2020, rising from 20.1 to 23.8 deaths per every 100,000 live births. A total of 861 women lost their lives during childbirth in 2020, indicating the pandemic had a significant impact on maternal health and access to care.

+ A survey of Arizona voters found that the vast majority support reproductive freedom, with 71 percent opposing the criminalization of abortion, and 90 percent agreeing that “each of us should have the freedom to decide how and when we start or grow a family, free from political interference.”

+ Although only 19 percent of voters are well versed on the legal aspects of abortion rights—reporting that they have heard “a lot” about S.B. 8-related Supreme Court proceedings—70 percent fear for the future of abortion access. More than three-in-four voters think there is a 50-50 or better chance of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

+ Twenty-one states have instituted legislation that would make them likely to attempt abortion bans if Roe v. Wade were overturned, and 12 have trigger bans that would do so automatically.

feminist-news-abortion-lgbtq-rights-florida-texas-maternal-mortality-abortion-medication-abortion-pills
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or guts Roe v. Wade, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion. (Courtesy of the Guttmacher Institute)

+ Medication abortion comprised 54 percent of abortions in the US in 2020, marking the first year that it became the majority of procedures.

+ The percentage of Americans that believe in QAnon conspiracy theories has increased since Biden’s inauguration last year, rising from 14 percent in March 2021 to 17 percent in September and October. Only 34 percent are self-reported QAnon rejecters as of October.

+ Hate crimes targeting Asian people in the U.S. hit record highs last year, increasing by 339 percent, including in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.

+ Recorded COVID-19 deaths officially total more than 6 million worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts believe that the real death toll is likely much higher.

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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_.