The War on Women Report: Anti-Abortion Movement Says It’s ‘Pro-Woman’; Kanye West’s Misogynistic Slurs; Brittney Griner’s Appeal Rejected

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…

Scientists and healthcare providers are raising concerns about the 15-week abortion ban proposed by Senate Republicans, particularly its effect on older mothers. Fetuses conceived among older mothers tend to have more abnormalities, which often can’t be identified before 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way this month. 

Tuesday, October 4

+ NARAL Pro-Choice America’s new research analyzed how the anti-choice movement is spreading misinformation by falsely framing its agenda as “pro-woman.” We already know the harm that abortion bans have caused women and pregnant people since the overturn of Roe in June. 

In light of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) proposed nationwide 15-week abortion ban, NARAL’s report exposes the anti-choice movement’s enforcement of fake feminism to validate restrictions of abortion care—especially fake health centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, which claim to “support women,” but actually lie to people in order to prevent them from accessing care. NARAL’s team also analyzed the rampant transphobia and homophobia weaponized against pregnant people by the anti-choice movement, which is often under the façade of “protecting women.” 

With the midterm elections are in full swing, it is crucial to name these tactics as misinformation. Abortion is on the ballot and President Joe Biden promised that if Democrats expand their Senate ranks in the midterms, the first bill he will send to Congress will codify abortion rights at the federal level. 

Thursday, October 6

+ After 100 days post-Roe, 66 of 79 clinics across 15 states have stopped offering abortion care, according to a new study Guttmacher Institute found. The remaining 13 clinics are all located in one state: Georgia. This means there are no providers offering abortions in 14 of the 15 states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. These 14 states accounted for more than 125,000 abortions in 2020. 

Even though 40 of these clinics continue offering services other than abortion, 26 have shut down entirely. 

Abortion rights protesters at the Tucson Federal Courthouse on July 4, 2022. (Sandy Huffaker / AFP via Getty Images)

Friday, October 7

+ Women journalists are significantly more likely than men to be targeted for online threats and harassment, a Women’s Media Center’s (WMC) study revealed. But, WMC’s research also revealed that women journalists were significantly less likely to ask management for help when dealing with harassment from social media users. This abuse is having an impact on how they do their jobs—so much so that women are leaving journalism. 

Sunday, October 9

+ Kanye West’s antisemitic tweets have rightly grabbed headlines, but he’s engaged in another dangerous and racist libel that social media companies, mainstream media outlets and the general public have largely ignored— that Black women are engaging in genocide. A few days before his antisemitic tweets, West had an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. During his interview, West pointed to abortion and Lizzo’s weight and blamed both for “the genocide of the Black race.” He’s not alone in his sentiments. Republicans and conservatives cheered him on— at least one publicly shared how he was “spitting facts on Tucker!”

Tuesday, October 11

+ Florida plans to strip the teaching licenses of elementary school educators who teach students about sexuality or gender identity. When Floridians were trying to survive the ruin of Hurricane Ian and the 100+ death count, the Florida Department of Education’s rule first appeared online. This measure is intended to enforce the 2021 state law, Parental Rights in Education Act—known by opponents as the “don’t say gay” law.

The 2021 law goes beyond elementary schools—it also restricts instruction on sexuality and gender identity for higher grades by saying those lessons cannot take place “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for students of any age.

The rule on teachers’ licenses has been widely criticized by teacher groups and LGBTQ advocates. Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of LGBTQ rights group GLSEN, said the Florida rule “will harm LGBTQ+ students, who we know benefit by having supportive teachers and inclusive curriculum in the classroom.”

Thursday, October 13

+ The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump—placing him at the center of a calculated effort to overturn the 2020 election. The committee played a video from the Capitol attack that showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders asking for National Guard troops to protect lawmakers. 

“He must be accountable,” said Bennie Thompson (D–Miss.), the committee’s chairman as it presented a sweeping summation of its findings. “He is required to answer for his actions.” Knowing Trump’s track record, he will probably defy it. 

+ In Raleigh, N.C., at least five people were fatally shot and two were wounded as a 15-year-old boy massacred them in their residential neighborhood. The crime scene stretched two miles and the dead included a city police officer, Gabriel Torres, 29, who was on his way to work that day, a 52-year-old woman, a 49-year-old woman, a 35-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy. 

The rate of mass shootings this year is outpacing the number of days in the calendar year.

Monday, October 17

+ The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) new study found that women who use hair straightening chemicals were at a higher risk for uterine cancer than women who did not use those products. The relationship between hair product use and uterine cancer doesn’t differ by race, but the NIH warns that dangerous health effects may be greater for Black women due to the higher prevalence of use. 

“We estimated that 1.64 percent of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05 percent,” said Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group and lead author on the new study. “This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context—uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”

Tuesday, October 18

+ Eight months after her initial detainment for possession of cannabis oil in Moscow, Brittney Griner celebrated her 32nd birthday in a Russian jail instead of with her family. “Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” said Griner in her statement. 

In August, the WNBA All-Star was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. Her legal team appealed the decision to the Moscow region court, but on October 25, the Russian court rejected the appeal

Monday, October 24

+ More than two years since his conviction for rape and criminal sexual assault in New York, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein faces his second trial on 11 new charges stemming from five women for rape and assault. The trial comes on the five-year anniversary of the exposé into Weinstein that kicked off the #MeToo movement. 

Five years later, 22 states have passed more than 70 anti-harassment bills including:

  • California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois enacted new laws that expand liability for sexual harassment and enable workers to speak out about sexual harassment and discrimination even if they’ve signed nondisclosure. 
  • The federal government passed a bill that bans companies from forcing sexual harassment and discrimination claims into arbitration.
  • Congress is also considering the Speak Out Act, which bans the silencing of sexual harassment victims. 

Dr. Ann Olivarius, founder of McAllister Olivarius, says while there have been crucial developments to combat sexual assault, harassment and discrimination, more needs to be done to open up the civil court system for survivors. She argues that the most effective way to make abusers and institutions that protect them accountable is to make them pay civil lawsuits.

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 (she/they) is a former editorial intern with Ms. and a graduate of Smith College, where she majored in the study of women & gender and sociology. Her beats include reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, domestic violence intervention and pop culture.