War on Women Report: The Post-Roe Nightmare; Lindsey Graham’s 15-Week Abortion Ban; Matt Gaetz Can Continue to Abuse Young Girls


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…

In short, the U.S.’s post-Roe period is already a nightmare.

  • A pregnant Louisiana woman and mother of three was denied an abortion, even though the fetus was missing part of its head and had no skull. “Basically, they said I had to carry my baby to bury my baby,” said the woman.
  • Alabama is detaining pregnant marijuana users to “protect” fetuses.
  • A Wisconsin woman bled for more than 10 days from an incomplete miscarriage after the emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue.
  • A Texas beauty YouTuber shared how she was forced to carry a dead fetus for two weeks. 

To add to this uplifting news, career prosecutors have recommended against charging Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in an extensive sex-trafficking investigation.

The last month has been a real whiplash for women. Let’s remember what was hurled our way. 

Thursday, September 1

+ Following the overturn of Roe, Catholics for Life (CFL) did not wait a second before working to enforce an abortion ban nationwide. In a petition filed on Sept.1, CFL asked the Supreme Court to snatch the power back and ban abortion nationwide by ruling that “unborn human beings” have full constitutional rights. “This Court must complete the analysis begun in Dobbs. … Now is the time. This is the case.” 

Justice Samuel Alito has already written that the abortion decision should be made by “the people and their elected representatives.” But will Alito and other justices follow precedent?

Pro-abortion rights protesters demonstrate outside of a church on Aug. 6, 2022 in New York City. The protests occurred at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where a small number of anti-abortion activists worship. (Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)

Tuesday, September 6

+ South Carolina Republicans advanced the state’s proposed abortion ban after voting to remove exceptions for rape or incest. The bill’s passage is not guaranteed—needs to be voted on by the full state Senate. The exceptions for rape and incest were removed in a 7-3 vote by all Republican men. 

On Sept. 8, South Carolina senators rejected a total abortion can after all the chamber’s women refused to support it. Senators did, however, pass changes that would make the state’s six-week abortion ban more extreme, including cutting the time that survivors of rape and incest can seek an abortion. The bill went back to the House. 

Thursday, September 8

+ The Michigan Supreme Court said that voters will get to decide in November whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state Constitution. This ruling came after the Michigan board of elections refused to put the proposal on the ballot—ignoring the fact that over 750,000 signed the petition to put abortion rights on the ballot. 

Similar to what happened in Kansas, this vote could shape the future of abortion access in Michigan, a swing state with several closely contested races on the ballot.  

Also, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher struck down Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban as a violation of the state Constitution. “A law denying safe, routine medical care not only denies women of their ability to control their bodies and their lives—it denies them of their dignity,” said Gleicher. 

Tuesday, September 13

+ Weeks before the midterm elections, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Chris Smith (N.J.) introduced a nationwide ban on abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy. “I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say, after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother,” said Graham at a news conference. “And that should be where America is at.” Just two months ago, he felt the issue should be left to the states.

This measure stands no chance when Democrats hold the majority in Congress—but if Republicans take back the House and the Senate in the midterm elections, there would be a vote on this 15-week abortion bill. 

“This bill shows the true Republican position: They want to ban abortion—for everyone. In every single state. And they want to punish doctors. They want to put them in prison for doing their jobs,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on the floor of the House on Wednesday. “To anyone who lives in a blue state, like mine—anyone who thinks they are safe from these attacks, here is the painful reality: Republicans are coming for your rights.”

The November elections could either strengthen abortion rights, by way of passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act—or completely erase all protections that several states have desperately tried to uphold. 

Thursday, September 15

+ Indiana’s near-total abortion ban— the first ban in the country passed after the overturn of Roewent into effect. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed the new policy into law in early August and it bans abortion in most instances at zero weeks of life. The only exceptions are if fatal fetal anomalies are present, or if the pregnant person’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest. 

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)

One week later, on Sept. 22, Indiana’s Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the legislation— putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue in a lawsuit that it violates the state’s Constitution. Judge Kelsey Hanlon wrote, “There is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. This has literally been a week of whiplash for women in Indiana as phone calls flooded Indiana abortion clinics.

Friday, September 16

+ West Virginia’s Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed into law an abortion ban at all stages of pregnancy—making West Virginia the second state to enact a law prohibiting the procedure since the overturn of Roe. This legislation is “a bill that protects life,” tweeted Gov. Jim Justice—it only has exemptions for rape, incest and if the pregnant person’s life is at risk. 

After lawmakers passed the bill Tuesday, it went into effect immediately— but criminal penalties will go into effect in 90 days. 

Women’s Health Center of West Virginia executive director Katie Quiñonez said the clinic’s lawyer advised them to suspend abortions immediately. Staff spent Tuesday night and Wednesday canceling dozens of appointments—but provided them with resources to book appointments out-of-state and funding to help cover travel and the procedure.

Tuesday, September 20

+ E. Jean Carroll, a writer and columnist—who has maintained that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her during the 1990s—plans to sue the former president under a New York law that allows sexual assault survivors to file suit years later. This is possible because in May, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law the Adult Survivors Act, granting a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. 

Carroll—who in 2019 described the assault in an excerpt of her book—previously hadn’t been able to press charges because the statute of limitations had passed. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.

E. Jean Carroll in New York in April 2006. (Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, September 23

+ Arizona’s Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson allowed an abortion ban from 1864 to take effect—opening the floodgates to prosecutions under the law. A separate ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy was set to take effect the very next day. This law has no exception for survivors of rape or incest. Currently, this ban also threatens abortion providers with between two and five years in prison. 

“Today’s ruling by the Pima County Superior Court has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years,” said Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.”

With at least 15 states enforcing extreme or total abortion bans and the midterm elections in the coming weeks, the state of abortion in Arizona is still far from settled

Monday, September 26

+ Happy World Contraception Day! Advocates for Youth released a new report indicating that the majority of young people around the country face barriers to accessing birth control—resulting in delayed doses, side effects and total inability to begin using contraception. This data arrives as the FDA considers approving the first-ever progestin-only, daily birth control pill available over-the-counter in the U.S.

  • Of the 243 people from 42 states surveyed, 88 percent struggled to access birth control, and 55 percent experienced so many barriers they could not start taking birth control on their preferred timeline.
  • Of that 55 percent of respondents, 58 percent had a pregnancy scare, 20 percent got pregnant when they didn’t want to and 16 percent had an abortion. Of those who failed to get on birth control pills due to barriers created by the prescription-only system, 57 percent were forced to delay renewing a prescription and 45 percent used Emergency Contraception.

For young people—especially low-income, people of color, trans, queer and other marginalized youth—accessing birth control can be unnecessarily difficult but it’s important to prevent unplanned pregnancies and protect bodily autonomy.

“The data resulting from our national survey clearly demonstrates what we’ve long known to be true: young people in the United States face unnecessary and unreasonable barriers to accessing birth control pills, often with harmful and life-altering consequences,” said Deb Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth. “We look forward to seeing the FDA and the Biden administration follow the data and the science by making birth control pills available without undue restrictions and without a prescription.”

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.

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Michelle Moulton earned her bachelor's degree in the study of women & gender and sociology from Smith College. Her beats include reproductive justice, domestic worker history and sexual violence intervention.