Keeping Score: Young and Minority Americans Feel Unsafe at Polls; Students Say Abortion Laws Will Affect College Decisions; Lawmakers Advance Menstrual Equity

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

“Supreme Court justices are threatening to undo decades of progress in the form of restricting rights to contraception, gay and interracial marriage, racial segregation in schools, and tax dollars towards religions that many don’t follow. … We the youth are the frontlines of this battle against a political system that is slowly writing our death sentence.”

—Student activist Anna Pham at a recent rally for abortion organized by The Feminist Front and Generation Ratify.

The extremist lawmakers who forced this bill through a special session clearly could not care less about what their constituents want or need. It’s appalling that they’re going to these lengths to block people from accessing abortion care, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Governor Holcomb has a chance to veto this legislation and protect reproductive freedom for millions of Hoosiers—he should take it.

—NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju in a statement on the passage of an Indiana bill banning abortion against residents’ majority will.

feminist-news-roundup-keeping-score-abortion-laws-young-women-teenagers-voting-college-students-biden
Abortion rights activists in the Indiana Senate during a special session to ban abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill into law. (Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications. … For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations. As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better.”

—CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in public statements on her agency’s handling of the COVID-19, and now monkeypox, pandemics in the U.S.

“The voters of Kansas sent a powerful signal that this fall the American people will vote to preserve and protect the rights, and refuse to let them be ripped away by politicians. … If Congress fails to act, the people of this country need to elect senators and representatives who will restore Roe and protect the right to privacy, freedom and equality.”

—President Joe Biden in a statement on Kansas voters’ decision to protect abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

“With the curtailing of reproductive rights, it is not only necessary to find legal solutions to protect marginalized communities, but it is essential to educate and inform audiences about these topics. Entertainment has a unique ability to reach viewers and provide that education. Our goal is to illuminate how many opportunities there are to use storytelling as a tool to expand the conversation and create substantial attitude and policy change.”

—Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Stacy L. Smith on the program’s decision to focus on reproductive health, marriage equality, violence and other political topics in film.

Milestones

+ A bill signed by Colorado governor Jared Polis (D) eliminates sales taxes on menstrual products and diapers in the state, effective Wednesday, Aug. 10. This law is expected to decrease the $15 monthly average spent by menstruating individuals on period products, and $75 spent by families on diapers.

feminist-news-roundup-keeping-score-abortion-laws-young-women-teenagers-voting-college-students-biden
One in five teens struggle to afford menstrual products or are not able to purchase them at all. (Becker1999 / Creative Commons)

+ In Scotland, lawmakers passed the Period Products bill to make free menstrual products available in public restrooms, such as in schools and libraries.

+ President Biden’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Idaho for the state’s new law banning almost all abortions. “The law places medical professionals in an impossible situation. They must either withhold stabilizing treatment … or risk felony prosecution and license revocation. The law will chill providers’ willingness to perform abortions in emergency situations and will hurt patients by blocking access to medically necessary health care,” associate attorney general Vanita Gupta said.

In response to the lawsuit from the Justice Department, a federal judge in Idaho on Wednesday blocked part of the anti-abortion law, set to take effect the next day, that criminalizes performing an abortion when a patient’s health or life is at stake. This now-blocked provision would have allowed authorities to arrest any healthcare professional who performed an abortion. The near-total abortion ban, however, still took effect.

+ Incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) lost in the Wyoming Republican primary on Tuesday, Aug. 16. As a result, only two House Republicans who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment remain candidates in the upcoming November midterms, with four having lost their primaries and four retiring.

+ A tax and climate law signed by President Biden will establish a 15 percent minimum tax rate for corporations with annual earnings higher than $1 billion. It also allocates $369 billion to combat climate change and $64 billion to decrease health insurance costs under the Affordable Care Act.

+ Governor Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order on Tuesday, Aug. 16 to make Pennsylvania the 27th state where conversion therapy is restricted. Such institutions are banned from using state funds, and state agencies are advised to discourage such programs.

“Conversion therapy is a traumatic practice based on junk science that actively harms the people it supposedly seeks to treat,” Wolf said.

+ Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation—the Firearm Industry Fairness Act and Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act—to tax AR-style rifle manufacturers by 20 percent, and require them to keep track of crimes committed with their weapons.

How We’re Doing

+ The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) found that billions of dollars are funneled into crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which outnumber abortion clinics three to one and dispense medical misinformation to pregnant people. CPC groups receive five times as much foundation funding ($278 million) as abortion clinics.

feminist-news-roundup-keeping-score-abortion-laws-young-women-teenagers-voting-college-students-biden
Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion demonstrators outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, on June 4, 2022, in New York City. Over 2,500 CPCs blanket the U.S.—triple the number of abortion clinics. (Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images)

+ After the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections, a quarter of prospective college students said state abortion laws will affect where they apply. Twenty-six percent “will only consider attending college in a state where abortion is legal,” and among women, that number reached 31 percent.

+ Only 28 percent of Black Americans, 37 percent of Hispanic Americans and 26 percent of Gen Z feel safe at polling locations, as compared with 47 percent of white Americans and Boomers. The poll, commissioned by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), raises concerns regarding safety’s impact on civic engagement.

+ Misinformation campaigns surrounding abortion pill reversal have earned Facebook tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue, according to Media Matters for America. The ads have racked up millions of views, although they violate the companies health misinformation guidelines.

+ Young LGBQ adults’ mental health is far worse than older LGBQ people’s, according to research by UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. They reported high levels of “psychological distress,” and bisexual people were especially likely to report drug abuse and low happiness.

“We expected that the increase in social acceptance for LGBQ people over the past decade would result in more positive mental health indicators for younger LGBQ people, but the results are mixed,” co-author Ilan H. Meyer said. “Despite social changes, young LGBQ people continue to experience stressful experiences related to their sexual minority status, which, in turn, leads to adverse mental health.”

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

Up next:

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_.