War on Women Report: Abortion Unavailable in 14 States; Harvey Weinstein Is Guilty; Tucker Carlson Named ‘Misinformer of the Year’

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 …. 

Anti-abortion activists and right-wing judges target access to birth control pills and abortion pills.

  • Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of four anti-abortion medical organizations requesting that abortion pills lose FDA approval. The ADF chose to file the case in the Amarillo Division of the Northern District of Texas, where it was assigned to a 45-year-old Trump appointee Matthew J. Kacsmaryk. Five years before becoming a federal judge, Kacsmaryk was deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a Christian conservative legal organization that specializes in representing religious groups claiming they have experienced discrimination.
  • Kacsmaryk also fired shots at birth control access, issuing a ruling claiming that Title X, which provides contraceptive care to young people, violated the constitutional rights of parents to “direct the upbringing of their child.”

Democrats have made efforts to protect abortion rights through ballot measures, but many states won’t let them.

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

Friday, Dec. 2

+ Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R)—who publicly harassed Dr. Caitlin Bernard for helping a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim obtain an abortion—asked the state Supreme Court to review a second legal challenge blocking prosecutors from enforcing the state’s near-total abortion ban. The state’s highest court has already agreed to bypass the state appeals court with another judge’s September ruling, which found that the ban violates the Indiana Constitution’s individual rights protections. The court is scheduled to hear arguments on Jan. 19.

Tuesday, Dec. 6

+ In the last year, 42 independent clinics (indies) have been forced to close or stop offering abortion care and 14 states have been left without a single abortion clinic, according to the Abortion Care Network’s sixth annual Communities Need Clinics report. With a new landscape of reproductive healthcare, indie clinics throughout the U.S. are often the last line of defense. 

Key Findings:

  • Indies provide the majority of abortion care nationwide.
  • Indies represent 59 percent of clinics in hostile states.
  • Access to abortion throughout pregnancy and later depends on indies. As of now, indies make up: 62 percent of clinics providing care after the first trimester, 79 percent of clinics providing care at or after 22 weeks, and 100 percent of clinics providing care after 26 weeks.
  • 101 indies provide online-only care.
A staff member reacts to the news that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, shutting down abortion services at Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services on June 24, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“By failing to do the bare minimum, legally protecting abortion rights after the overturn of Roe, clinics across the country are being forced to close, and communities are not just losing access to abortions, but a full spectrum of reproductive health services like birth control, sex education, gender-affirming treatments and PrEP for HIV prevention. Independent clinics and their allies are on the front lines of securing access state by state across the country, whether it is side by side with a patient, explaining all their options, in the legislative house, or in the courtroom independent clinics are leading the fight for abortion access and availability. As attacks on abortion are only increasing from every level, the need to support independent abortion clinics has never been greater.”

Erin Grant, deputy director of Abortion Care Network

Wednesday, Dec. 7

+ The Keystone Pipeline ruptured near a creek in northern Kansas, spilling about 14,000 barrels of oil or 588,000 gallons, according to its operator, TC Energy. This Kansas oil spill is the largest land-based crude pipeline spill in the U.S. in nine years. The Keystone Pipeline has leaked 22 times before this, but this latest spill is larger than all of the others combined. The leak is contained.

This oil spill recalls arguments over the extension of the Keystone Pipeline, known as the XL Pipeline, which Republicans made a symbol of an anti-growth attack on U.S. energy production by Democrats. The Keystone Pipeline runs from oil sand fields in Alberta, Canada, into the United States and to Cushing, Okla. Proposed would have added about 1,700 new miles.

Thursday, Dec. 8

 + This day marked Latina Equal Pay Day. Latinas make only 54 cents, on average, to the dollar made by white, non-Hispanic men.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe has harmed millions of people. But the effects have fallen the hardest on women of color—especially on Latinas — who are more likely to live in states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion. Many Latinas work multiple jobs that don’t provide sick days or insurance coverage. Abortion bans are attacks on their economic justice. Currently, about 3 million Latinas living in the states where abortion is restricted or banned are economically insecure, according to new research by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice (Latina Institute). 

+ WNBA star Brittney Griner is home. She was released from Russian detention, landed in San Antonio, and was taken to a medical facility where she received care and was reunited with her wife, Cherelle Griner, and her parents.

One week after her prison release, Griner released a statement expressing gratitude:

“The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”

Moscow swapped the athlete for a convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout. Griner has since vowed to help free former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, also under Russian detention.

+ Good news in Texas! A San Antonio judge tossed a lawsuit filed against an abortion provider by a private citizen who intentionally violated a controversial state abortion law. This case is the first brought under Texas’ ‘bounty hunter’ allowance. The law, Senate Bill 8, allows anyone to bring a lawsuit against someone who “aids or abets” in an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. 

“This is a significant win against S.B. 8’s bounty-hunting scheme because the court rejected the notion that Texas can allow a person with no connection to an abortion to sue,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “But this dismissal did not provide the opportunity to strike down S.B. 8 overall, and in the wake of the Dobbs decision, Texas is enforcing multiple abortion bans. As a result, pregnant Texans with life-threatening obstetric emergencies are being turned away from hospitals. No one should have to be near death just to get the healthcare they need.”

Tuesday, Dec. 13

+ Federal Bureau of Prisons employees abused female inmates in at least 19 of the 29 federal prisons that held women over the last decade, according to a new Senate investigation. Hundreds of sexual abuse charges are among a backlog of 8,000 internal affairs misconduct cases yet to be investigated. The Justice Department is now considering expanding its compassionate release program to offer early release for women who are abused in prison.

+ Three anti-abortion politicians blocked a vote on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—a bipartisan bill that would have given pregnant people extra workplace accommodations. They inaccurately claimed that it would force employers to grant leave for abortion care. (The bill ultimately passed in the end: The Senate added the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to the end-of-year omnibus package.)

Advocates, legislators and pregnant workers rally on Capitol Hill in support of The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act on Dec. 1, 2022. The PWFA will close a legal loophole in the landmark Pregnancy Discrimination Act by ensuring all employers provide pregnant and postpartum workers with modest accommodations on the job. (Paul Morigi / Getty Images for A Better Balance)

Wednesday, Dec. 14

+ The Montana Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging a state criminal law that prevents qualified practice registered nurses (APRNs) from providing abortion services. Montana appealed the case to the state Supreme Court after a district court struck down the law as a violation of the state constitution. The state Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold the lower court’s decision to strike down the law.

Healthcare practitioners challenged this law in 2018. A state district court permanently blocked the law earlier this year, finding that APRNs can provide abortion care with the same safety and efficacy as physicians and physician assistants. The court agreed with the plaintiffs that the restriction violates the state’s constitutional rights to privacy and procreative autonomy. The case was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU of Montana on behalf of two APRNs.

During the 2022 midterm elections, Montana voters rejected an anti-abortion ballot initiative.

+ U.N. member states voted to remove Iran from a panel that promotes women’s rights worldwide, backing the U.S.-led effort. The resolution passed with 29 votes in favor of ousting Iran and eight votes against it. Sixteen countries abstained. 

The Biden administration had spent weeks lobbying other countries to support its pressure campaign against the Islamist regime in Tehran—following its crackdown on protests following the September death of a young woman detained by Iran’s “morality police.” The vote was held by the 54 members of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It removes Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women, a body overseen by the council.

Thursday, Dec. 15

+ The Philadelphia City Council approved a package of bills aimed at protecting patients seeking abortion care in the city. The legislation prohibits providers and others from volunteering patient information related to abortion care to other states, allows people facing out-of-state lawsuits about reproductive healthcare to countersue in Philadelphia court, and makes people seeking abortion care a protected class that can’t be discriminated against in the workplace.

Friday, Dec. 16

+ Fox News host Jesse Watters spent 2022 leveling baseless, sexist attacks against women, according to a new report from Media Matters. Watters was made a permanent host of the 7 p.m. hour in January 2022, raising his profile on the network and granting him a lot of airtime to spew his misogynistic ideas about gender roles and women in positions of power. 

One of his creepiest moments came during a discussion about corporal punishment in a school district in Missouri. “Can you paddle female students,” asked Watters. “How many smacks do you get?”

“Fox News has a long history of sexism in the company, but Watters’ remarks over the course of the year stand out even by the network’s abysmally low standards. His frat-boy schtick is simultaneously boring and offensive, predictable and disgusting, and absolutely on-brand for the Murdoch empire,” said John Knefel, the report’s author. (A compilation of many of Watters’ most egregious on-air comments from 2022 is here.)

+ An Idaho woman was miscarrying but was denied an abortion because of state law. She documented herself getting sicker and sicker over two days.

Monday, Dec. 19

+ Fox News star Tucker Carlson was named the 2022 “Misinformer of the Year” by Media Matters—a designation presented since 2005 to the most influential spreader of dangerous misinformation in U.S. media. Researchers documented hundreds of examples of Carlson spreading lies in 2022, including attacks on the LGBTQ community, promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda, spreading conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 Insurrection, and undermining election results before the midterms. 

Two key issues that Carlson fixated on in 2022 were abortion rights and “traditional” masculinity. His rhetoric has had deadly consequences.

+ Abortion is currently unavailable in 14 states and courts have temporarily blocked enforcement of bans in eight others as of Dec. 12, according to recent research from Guttmacher Institute. Even in states where abortion is available, the massive influx of patients from states with severe restrictions has created long waiting times for the procedure.

Near-total or early-gestational-age abortion bans harm patients who already have difficulty accessing abortion care, including people who are economically insecure, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and young people. States that restrict abortion access are more likely than states with broader access to have weak social safety nets that are unable to meet their residents’ basic health and childcare needs, and high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality.

Abortion rights supporters at a rally for reproductive rights at the Texas Capitol on May 14, 2022, in Austin. (Montinique Monroe / Getty Images)

+ After years of legal setbacks, a Planned Parenthood affiliate clinic in Wichita, Kansas, started providing medication abortion by telemedicine. Kansas was the first of six states where voters turned out to support abortion rights after the overturn of Roe. Now, two other clinics in Kansas City will eventually offer abortion by telemedicine as well.

Tuesday, Dec. 20

+ On Dec. 19, an L.A. jury found Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, guilty of the sexual assault of an actor in 2013. The jurors remained split on other accusations but the case represented a crucial moment in the fight for gender justice and sexual assault survivors.

“Weinstein survivors should take comfort in the progress they have inspired,” according to an Equal Rights Advocates’ report. “They joined other Hollywood activists and worker survivors across hundreds of industries to help Equal Rights Advocates pass the strongest laws in the nation combatting sexual harassment and assault.”

With the help of the ERA and the Stronger California Advocates Network, new laws have been passed:

  • Prohibiting sexual harassment in a broader range of professional non-employment relationships (S.B. 224)
  • Extending the time to file sexual harassment and retaliation claims (A.B. 1947 and A.B. 9)
  • Addressing sexual harassment and assault in the janitorial industry (A.B. 1978)
  • Abolishing the “one free grope” rule by clarifying the legal standard and requiring stronger anti-harassment training (S.B. 1300)
  • Prohibiting retaliation against those who complain including through “no rehire” clauses in settlements (A.B. 749)
  • Ending the silencing of survivors through forced arbitration (A.B. 51) and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) (S.B. 331)

This year brought laws prohibiting forced arbitration of sexual harassment claims and nondisclosure agreements silencing workers who step forward to complain about harassment. “We urge the courts to use their power to demonstrate that rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment will not be tolerated, even from the most powerful and influential perpetrators,” said the organization.

Thursday, Dec. 22

+ The police were not “defunded,” according to data collected by Prison Policy Initiative: From 2016 to the end of 2020, the number of full-time staff barely changed in local police departments and has even slightly increased in sheriff’s offices and federal agencies employing law enforcement.

The report also found that racial disparities in policing persist, specifically in the threat or use of force. Such aggression disproportionately falls on Black people and the number of women who experience police use of force continues to rise. Men’s police encounters, including arrests, continue to plummet.

Wednesday, Dec. 28

+ Barry Croft Jr., 47, a man who was convicted as one of the key orchestrators in the 2020 scheme to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and blow up a bridge in hopes of inciting a civil war was sentenced to 19 ½ years in prison. Croft was described as “the spiritual leader” and his sentence was the longest of the four men convicted on federal charges in the most closely watched domestic terrorism case in recent years. His accomplice Adam Fox, 39, received 16 years behind bars the day before.

Up next:

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.


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.