Keeping Score: Democrats Maintain Senate Control in Midterms; Florida Bans Care for Transgender Youth

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

“This report lays bare the very real, barbaric consequences of Republicans’ state-by-state efforts to control women and strip them of their basic rights to decide what happens to their own bodies. Let’s be perfectly clear: bans on abortion don’t actually stop abortion from happening. It just means women will seek out more dangerous, less safe paths to get the care they need when they need it. No one should have to cross state lines to be treated as an equal citizen.”

—Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on a report revealing the tragic impacts of abortion bans on women’s health after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“You’ve consistently been clear about what happened to you, but instead of being met with widespread support, people who should have had your back have chosen to stay out of the matter.

You don’t deserve any of this, Megan. You deserve to be heard, to be believed, and most importantly, to be safe.

There is no amount of power or prestige that can prevent a woman from becoming a victim of violence and there is no level of achievement that exempts women from our society’s complacency with that violence.”

—An open letter to Megan Thee Stallion from leaders denouncing violence against women. Drake had previously rapped in his song “Circo Loco” that Megan Thee Stallion was lying about being shot by Tory Lanez in 2020.

“One of the things that is almost laughable: Some people call and say, ‘Is it true you don’t count the absentee ballots except in close elections?’ Nothing could be further from the truth. … Really, misinformation is just a long word for lie. And I think it’s playing a significant role, because people don’t know who to believe.”

—Alan Hays, a Florida election supervisor, on misinformation campaigns prior to the midterm elections.

“Your authoritarian, un-American, anti-democratic conduct on Election Day — if it is illegal, we will put you in jail. Bad things will happen in Philly to extremists who come here to try to erase votes. … Philadelphia is the birthplace of democracy, and I’ll be damned if democracy dies here in Philadelphia on my watch.”

—District Attorney Larry Krasner warning against voter intimidation in Pennsylvania, a swing state in which conspiracy theories have run rampant.

Milestones

+ Midterm elections were held nationwide on Tuesday, Nov. 8, resulting in milestone victories for several state and local candidates.

In Massachusetts, attorney general Maura Healey was elected the state’s first woman governor. She will also be on the nation’s first out lesbian governors. New York’s first woman governor Kathy Hochul also secured her first full term since succeeding Andrew Cuomo.

(The Barbara Lee Family Foundation)

At just 25 years old, Florida Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost will be the first Gen Z member of Congress. This is the first year members of Gen Z meet the minimum age for the House.

Robert Garcia, whose family came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants from Peru, is the first openly gay immigrant elected to Congress.

After CNN projected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nevada) win, Democrats secured control of the Senate for 2023. They will keep 50 seats, while Republicans hold just 49. The last seat will be decided by a runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Herschel Walker in December.

Pro choice supporters gather outside the Michigan State Capitol during a “Restore Roe” rally in Lansing, on September 7, 2022. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

+ Clinics were able to resume performing abortions in Arizona as of Thursday, Oct. 27 following an agreement between the state’s attorney general and abortion rights organizations.

“We are still on a long and uncertain path to restoring the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona and making this essential healthcare truly accessible and equitable for all people,” Planned Parenthood Arizona CEO Brittany Fonteno said. “While abortion is currently legal in Arizona and we have resumed abortion care throughout the state, we know that this could very well be temporary.”

+ CVS and Walgreens each agreed to pay a $5 billion settlement for their contributions to the national opioid crisis. State and local governments have been pursuing payment from pharmaceutical companies since 2013 in order to help mitigate the costs associated with addiction.

+ Transgender minors in Florida are now banned from receiving gender-affirming care after a vote by the state’s medical board. All 14 board members were appointed by governor Ron DeSantis (R), and nine were present when they voted to revise the standard of care, forbidding puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and surgery before age 18.

+ Fast Studios launched the Women’s Sports Network on Wednesday, Nov. 2, providing a platform for women’s sports coverage, shows and documentaries. The outlet plans to start streaming live matches in January.

+ Academic workers at the University of California’s 10 campuses went on strike Monday morning in protest of low pay and insufficient benefits. “The strike marks the largest work stoppage of the year so far, and union leaders say it will also be the biggest at any academic institution in history,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Participants include teachings assistants, postdoctoral scholars, tutors and other employees.

How We’re Doing

+ A study from the National Partnership for Women & Families revealed Latinas are the group most affected by state abortion restrictions in the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson. More than 4 in 10 (6.5 million) Latinas ages 15-49 live in states that have banned or likely will ban abortion.

“When we ban abortion, we’re really harming people’s health, well-being, economic security and making individuals and families more vulnerable and less healthy,” said Shaina Goodman, the organization’s director for reproductive health and rights. “That impacts not just the person seeking the abortion, but also their families and our communities.”

+ Women retire with just three-quarters (74 percent) of the assets of their male counterparts, according to a study released Thursday, Nov. 3. This gap was widest amongst highly skilled positions, in which women retire with about 62 percent the assets of men.

+ In Texas, the number of monthly abortions performed has dropped to fewer than 10 since the summer. The state is responsible for more than half of the national decrease in abortions since Dobbs.

A study from #WeCount and the Society of Family Planning stated that “Those who seek but are unable to obtain a desired abortion experience a variety of negative outcomes, including increased economic insecurity, poorer physical health and continued exposure to violence from the man involved in the pregnancy.”

Pro-life demonstrators and clinic escorts stand in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, an abortion clinic, on May 8, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

+ Travel time to obtain an abortion has spiked across the U.S., as more than one-in-three women of reproductive age now live over an hour away from the nearest clinic. The average travel time has tripled to more than an hour and a half.

+ Equal Rights Advocates took a survey of Black and Latinx families following COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, and 87 percent of families with childcare responsibilities reported work disruptions as a result. Thirty-three percent said they experience racial discrimination, and 77 percent experienced discrimination due to gender, race, immigration or parenting status.

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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_.