Keeping Score: Capitol Statues Honor RBG and Sandra Day O’Connor; Military Survivors Launch Campaign to Address Sexual Assault

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

“It’s like they’re being shadow-banned. … They’re not going to come out outright and say, ‘Don’t say gay,’ but they’re going to make it as difficult as possible for you to be allowed to express yourself or even learn about how you feel, who you are and your identity. …

The goal for this club really was about education and inclusivity, and making sure that people knew that they deserve the respect of others, just as much as their straight counterparts.”

—Christine Latin, a dance teacher and faculty sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. Her colleague and fellow GSA sponsor Rachel Stonecipher faces contract termination by the school after its administration removed rainbow stickers on campus and asked teachers to take down their pride flags.

“As a little girl they called ‘Chicken Legs,’ never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I’d have a career like this. I have so much gratitude for this sport that has changed my life. I have given everything I have to running and for the first time I’m not sure if I have anything left to give. … If you see me on the track this year I hope to share a moment, a memory and my appreciation with you.

This season I’m running for women. I’m running for a better future for my daughter. I’m running for you. More to come on that, so stay tuned, but I’ll be sharing a series of announcements that I’m hoping will make the world better for women.”

—Allyson Felix, the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history, announcing her last season in the sport.

“Decisions around abortion should be made between people who can get pregnant and their doctors, without the influence of politicians. Forcing Michiganders to carry unwanted pregnancies to term can be harmful and even deadly, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, who face more barriers to health care and higher maternal mortality rates. We must use every tool in the toolbox to protect the legal right and access to abortion…”

—Ann Arbor abortion provider Dr. Lauren Owens, praising Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) for asking the state Supreme Court to secure abortion rights within the state’s constitution.

“H.B. 5 ignores real-world situations — it is not always possible for people to obtain an abortion within the arbitrary timeframe provided in this bill, even if they’ve been trying to get one for weeks. There are already so many barriers to abortion care, especially for young people, those with fewer resources, and those who live in rural areas.

Make no mistake: If this abortion ban goes into effect, it would have devastating consequences for pregnant people, especially those who are not able to afford to travel out of state in search of the essential health care they need. Nobody should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will. We will take swift legal action to protect Floridians’ rights and defend against this cruel attack on our bodily autonomy.”

—Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, condemned the signing of Florida’s H.B. 5 by governor Ron DeSantis (R). The bill would criminalize providers of abortion care after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Women and girls who are coming to Poland from Ukraine need to be able to urgently access essential sexual and reproductive healthcare. At the moment the barriers they are facing in Poland are severe and they are dealing with very distressing situations.”

—Krystyna Kacpura, executive director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning in Poland, on the pressing needs of women on the ground in Ukraine and refugees in surrounding nations.
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A pro-EU rally in Kiev on Nov. 26, 2013. (Ivan Bandura / Flickr)

Milestones

+ A New York City law scheduled to take effect in May will require companies to disclose salary ranges on job listings, marking a major victory for pay transparency and wage equality. However, some employers are holding out hope for a delay.

+ Kelsie Whitmore, a 23-year-old baseball player who recently signed a contract with the Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League, will be playing her sport at the highest level reached by women in decades.

“She knew at that age she just wanted to play that sport. She wanted to throw overhand. She wanted to steal bases. She wanted to do what baseball players do. So I didn’t set the direction. She did,” Whitmore’s father Scott said of her dedication to baseball since childhood.

+ Red, White and Bruised—a survivor-led campaign led by military survivors of sexual assaults and advocates—was launched this week to improve procedures for processing sexual assault allegations in the U.S. military. Its seven demands include measures for increased accountability and transparency.

+ The U.N. is funding the Bilan project in Somalia, a team of six female journalists who will report on gendered issues—such as violence against women, as well as women politicians and business-owners—through online, TV and radio content.

+ Just 14 of the 200 statues on display at the U.S. Capitol memorialize women—but legislation signed by Joe Biden on Wednesday, April 13, will add two statues honoring Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor were trailblazers long before reaching the Supreme Court, opening doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them closed,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said. “The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of democracy, a place where people from across our country have their voices represented and heard. It is only fitting that we honor their remarkable lives and service to our country by establishing statues in the Capitol.”

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the Supreme Court on July 21, 1993. (Wikimedia Commons)

+ A bill approved by the Colorado Senate would guarantee 12 weeks of paid parental leave for state lawmakers, and 16 for families who suffer complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Its passage would make Colorado a trailblazer in codifying paid leave for legislators.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) also signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law on Monday, April 4, ensuring the right to abortion in Colorado is protected from conservatives’ efforts to limit reproductive freedom.

+ In Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill criminalizing abortion procedures. S.B. 612 will put providers at risk of 10 years in prison or up $100,000 in fines.

+ Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) vetoed a bill that would have restricted transgender women’s participation in school sports teams, citing guidelines that already protect student-athletes from unfair competition and requires transgender athletes to have been on hormone therapy for a minimum length of time.

An abortion ban implemented Kentucky was also rejected by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings, who granted a request by Planned Parenthood and the state’s other clinic to resume providing abortion care.

+ The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced plans to reverse the Trump administration’s ‘conscience’ rule, which allows healthcare providers to refuse service on the basis of religion or morality.

+ Thirteen survivors of sexual assault by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar intend to sue the FBI for $130 million—$10 million each—for not preventing Nassar from assaulting more victims following allegations.

How We’re Doing

+ A nationwide survey by PEN America, titled “Hard News: Journalists and the Threat of Disinformation,” found disinformation to be a major barriers facing reporters. Eighty-one percent described disinformation as a significant problem, and 76 percent said they handle it all, most or some days.

+ A report on maternal mortality rates in the U.S. demonstrated a 3.7 percent increase from 2019 to 2020, with Black women affected 2.9 times more than white women. The study notes that women of color experienced much more significant increases than white women, with the highest mortality rates among women older than 40.

+ A market research firm in the U.K. found that British women are using fewer cosmetic products and spending less time on makeup since COVID-19 lockdowns transformed their daily routines, leading to decreased revenue in the cosmetics industry.

+ Although 63 percent of respondents to a Pew Research survey reported increased gender equality in the U.S. as a result of Title IX, 37 percent of respondents familiar with the legislation believe it has “not gone far enough.”

+ Of 150 police reports involving Apple AirTags, which can be used to track valuable items such as keys or wallets, one-third (50) were filed by women who suspected they were being followed. Half of those women suspect men in their lives were tracking their location to potentially harass them or inflict harm.

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 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_.