War on Women Report: States Come for Abortion Care; 10 Anti-LGBTQ Bills; ‘Freedom’ Is Hypocrisy

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U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism is on the rise, and democracy is on the decline. But day after day, we stay vigilant in our goals to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. The fight is far from over. We are watching, and we refuse to go back. This is the War on Women Report.


Since Our Last Report….

It’s been weeks of whiplash for abortion clinics and patients after the June 24 overturn of Roe v. Wade, representing the largest blow to women’s constitutional rights in history. Several states issued abortion bans immediately after the Dobbs decision, while others temporarily blocked them.

As abortion clinics shut down, pregnant women face a massive escalation in surveillance. The personal reproductive health data on these apps could be used against women if they choose to seek abortions in a post-Roe world.

Wednesday, June 29

+ The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new guidance to help individuals protect their privacy when using period trackers and other health information apps. The guidance also addresses the treatment of private medical information on personal cell phones and tablets. Critically, it also clarifies how federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information relating to abortion and other sexual and reproductive care—including that health providers are not required to disclose private medical information to third parties.

“How you access healthcare should not make you a target for discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. 

Friday, July 1

+ In Texas, a Harris County judge allowed abortions to resume in the state up to six weeks of pregnancy following the Dobbs decision. Late Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a 1925 law banning abortion—an emergency motion pushed by Attorney General Ken Paxton—can take effect immediately, overturning the lower court ruling that had temporarily blocked it

The decision puts abortion providers at risk of fines and civil lawsuits, but Paxton’s original request to the court was to allow prosecutors to bring criminal charges against abortion providers. 

Texas is one of 13 states with a “trigger ban” in place that bans abortion from the moment of fertilization. Texas lawmakers pushed the law through last year and it is scheduled to go into effect 30 days after the Dobbs ruling—the very end of July. 

“Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences,” said Julia Kaye, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We won’t stop fighting to ensure that as many people as possible, for as long as possible, can access the essential reproductive healthcare they need.”

This nearly century-old abortion ban in Texas is sure to be devastating. Abortion bans disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color. Many undocumented women—who already had limited access to abortion care before the overturn of Roe—are in a vulnerable position due to their existing relationship with law enforcement, limited access to healthcare insurance and low wages. Women who are in relationships with abusive partners need access to abortion care. Also among the most vulnerable are transgender men and nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. Even girls as young as 10 years old need access to abortion care.

+ Following the last day of Pride Month, 10 anti-LGBTQ+ bills went into effect across six states—Alabama, Florida, Indiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. Two of the most prominent bills are Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibiting classroom discussion of gender and sexuality. Alabama passed a bill requiring students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth and enacted education policies similar to Florida’s.

This enforced atmosphere of silence encourages a culture of surveillance and harm. Early next month, a Louisiana bill restricting school sports access for trans youth is also expected to go into effect. 

Monday, July 4

+ Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified on July 4, 1776. But who is actually free? 

Large subsections of Americans are deprived of basic human rights such as healthcare, education and housing. The U.S. has more than 20 percent of the world’s prison population. With the overturn of Roe and erasure of safe abortion care, hostile states are forcing women to go through an unwanted pregnancy despite there being a lack of paid maternity leave, unaffordable childcare and a baby formula shortage. Children are not free to go to school without the fear of being murdered by semi-automatic weapons. The rate of mass shootings this year is outpacing the number of days in the calendar year, and guns are now the primary cause of death among U.S. children. Again, who is free?

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Participants at the June 4 reproductive rights rally in New Haven, Conn. (Ian Jacobs)

+ WNBA Champion and All-Star Brittney Griner wrote to President Joe Biden pleading that he will not forget about her and other American detainees. “I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote. Griner was arrested February 17 at a Moscow airport. Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

“Freedom means something completely different to me this year,” Griner wrote. (If Griner were a man, would she be home by now?)

Tuesday, July 5

+ A Florida judge blocked a 15-week abortion ban, ruling that it was unconstitutional and violated privacy protections. Less than a week later, a state appeal from Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) restored the abortion ban. The bill bans abortion after 15 weeks, with an exemption for a fatal fetal abnormality if two physicians confirm the diagnosis in writing. The ban does not allow exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

+ Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said she would allow local prosecutors to enforce the state’s 1931 abortion ban if a state court restores it. The ban has an exception for saving the mother’s life but carries a felony manslaughter charge. “I don’t believe that I have or that I should have the authority to tell the 83 county prosecutors what they can and cannot charge,” she said. “It’s not me telling them that they’re not allowed to enforce the law, it’s the court. And you have to abide by court orders or else you’re subject to be held in contempt.”

Two county prosecutors have said they would pursue prosecution based on the ban if given the chance. “Just wait until I get succeeded by an anti-choice Republican who starts telling [prosecutors] what they should and should not do,” Nessel warned.

+ A Mississippi judge declined a request—by the state’s only abortion clinic—to block a law banning most abortion. The trigger ban has been on the books since 2007 and has never been challenged in court. It says abortion will be legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. The ban does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

Thursday, July 7

+ Mississippi’s last abortion clinic shut down. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the clinic at the heart of the case that overturned Roe, performed its last abortion on Wednesday. “The patients are ‘devastated,’ said Diane Derzis, the owner of the clinic. She knows pregnant women will need to travel long distances to get an abortion now. “You would be surprised at how many have no idea that this bill has passed and that abortion is now illegal in Jackson, as well as other states surrounding,” she said. 

But the fight in Mississippi is not over. The clinics’ attorneys filed paperwork asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to step in and effectively allow the organization to reopen. In 1998, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution has a right to privacy. This includes abortion. 

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The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, at the center of the case that overturned Roe, was the only clinic in Mississippi. (Montinique Monroe / Ms. magazine)

Friday, July 8

+ President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting abortion rights, but acknowledged that there is no action he can take to restore abortion rights nationwide in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Biden said the order will protect access to abortion care—including FDA-approved abortion pills—and contraceptives, protect patient privacy and establish an interagency task force to use “every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive healthcare.”


Ms. is keeping track of the changing landscape of abortion care and will continue to update this piece as state policies continue to morph and change.


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

Michelle Moulton is an editorial intern with Ms. and a senior at Smith College. She is double majoring in the study of women & gender and sociology. Her beats include reproductive justice, domestic worker history, sexual violence intervention, and criminal justice reform and abolition.