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 ….
Republican state lawmakers are ushering in a wave of anti-transgender bills. More than 150 bills have already been proposed in at least 25 states—including bans on transition care into adulthood, mandates that schools ‘out’ trans students to their families and limitations on drag shows.
In Florida, 56 percent of LGBTQ+ parents have considered moving out of the state because of the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill, according to research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Clark University. About 17 percent have taken steps to do so.
“Legislation can have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ parent families by cultivating a climate of fear and insecurity,” said study author Abbie E. Goldberg, professor of psychology at Clark University.
+ Twenty-four states have banned abortion or are likely to in the coming months, in contrast to 26 states as predicted by the Guttmacher Institute in October 2021. Michigan was originally included as a state certain to ban abortion because it had not repealed its pre-Roe abortion ban. But, in the November 2022 elections, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution protecting abortion rights. South Carolina was also considered certain to ban abortion because it had enacted a six-week abortion ban in 2021. However, the state supreme court struck down that ban in January—though a majority of lawmakers in the state legislature remain opposed to abortion rights.
These victories bring the number of states that have already banned abortion or are likely to do so down from 26 to 24—which still means millions of people are being denied bodily autonomy and access to critical healthcare.
Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way over the last month.
Sunday, Jan. 1
+ Happy New Year! Donald Trump posted the following message on his social media platform Truth Social:
“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the midterms. … It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters. The people that pushed so hard, for decades against abortion got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again…”
While some anti-abortion activists have condemned Trump’s post, conservative media figures have had varied reactions. With his post and the different reactions, there are three considerations to keep in mind, according to a new report from Media Matters:
- Abortion rights are popular. Exit polls and ballot measures in the 2022 midterm elections proved mainstream pundits who speculated it could be a losing issue wrong and showed that protecting abortion rights is an important topic for voters.
- Abortion bans with exceptions are still extreme. Reproductive health policy experts say exceptions for abortion bans are designed to be unworkable and function primarily as PR tools to make abortion bans seem less cruel than they are.
- Donald Trump played a role in the end of Roe. Trump glossed over his own contributions to the party’s midterm disappointments, which included nominating three of the Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of reversing Roe v. Wade, a decision opposed by most Americans. Trump has also frequently embraced extreme anti-abortion rhetoric, often spewing misguided right-wing misinformation about reproductive health and embracing anti-abortion extremists.
Tuesday, Jan. 3
+ The FDA updated its guidance to allow retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to provide mifepristone upon agreeing to certain rules—a major change from the previous regulation. Before, the abortion pill was only dispensed by clinics, doctors and a few mail-order pharmacies.
Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, issued the following statement in response:
“Today, the FDA did the job it is designed to do. It made a decision that is rooted in medical evidence and science, not politics and ideology. As a result, mifepristone can officially now be accessed without the burdensome and medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirements. At a time when bodily autonomy and abortion access are under continuous, multi-directional attack from anti-abortion policymakers, judges and extremists, it is of utmost importance that we continue to follow the science. Decades of medical research and clinical experience have shown us that mifepristone is safe and it is effective.
“While we thank the FDA for their work, following the medical evidence and permanently lifting the unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone, we know that we still have a long way to go before access to abortion care is equitable for every person who needs it. The impacts of bans and limitations on abortion continue to fall most heavily on those who are already experiencing marginalization from our medical systems. Today’s decision will help alleviate some of these barriers, but many still remain.
“As physicians and providers of comprehensive reproductive healthcare for our communities, we work to build a world where abortion care is no longer singled out, shrouded in shame and stigma, or subject to unnecessary restrictions. We seek a world where access to abortion care is safe, equitable and accessible, including access in pharmacies. This is the future we seek.”
Thursday, Jan. 5
+ President Biden announced new immigration restrictions, including an expansion of Title 42, a program to remove people quickly without letting them seek asylum. This new program will expand Biden’s use of “parole” authority to allow 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela to enter the U.S. each month so long as they have U.S. sponsors. Those who try to immigrate without this authorization will face rapid expulsion to Mexico, as the country has agreed to take back 30,000 people from those nations each month.
These changes have angered many and may cause challenges for immigration advocacy groups.
Saturday, Jan. 7
+ Alabama’s attorney governor’s office told a reporter that just because the state’s abortion ban won’t let them arrest women, it doesn’t mean the state can’t use other laws to put them behind bars. A spokesperson for Marshall told conservative outlet 1819 News that even though the Human Life Protection Act exempts women from being prosecuted, it “does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law—which the Alabama supreme court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.”
The state’s chemical endangerment law was crafted to punish adults who expose children to “an environment in which controlled substances are produced or distributed.” Abortion medication accounts for more than 50 percent of abortions and the primary way women in anti-abortion states avoid abortion bans.
Tuesday, Jan. 10
+ Women are like cows, says Idaho Republican Jack Nelsen. He was recently elected to his first term in Idaho’s lower house and wants everyone to know that he knows a lot about women. “I’m a lifelong dairy farmer,” said Nelsen at the first meeting of Idaho’s agricultural affairs committee. “I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows, so if you want some ideas on repro and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions.”
Idaho state Rep. Jack Nelsen compared women and pregnant people to cows and then laughed about it. Abortion is banned in the statehttps://t.co/784r6DaRT2 pic.twitter.com/860w5B3CwP— Susan Rinkunas (@sueonthetown) January 13, 2023
Nelsen apologized for these comments.
Wednesday, Jan. 11
+ Missouri’s state legislature debated a proposed change to the dress code for women lawmakers, which involved requiring women to wear jackets on the House floor to “maintain a formal and professional atmosphere.”
State Rep. Peter Meredith (D) tweeted his concern.
He continued, “Yep, the caucus that lost their minds over the suggestion that they should wear masks during a pandemic to respect the safety of others is now spending its time focusing on the fine details of what women have to wear (specifically how to cover their arms) to show respect here.”
+ The U.S. House of Representatives passed two anti-abortion measures, largely along party lines.
One of the measures was a “born alive” bill that serves no purpose other than to stigmatize abortion. Last November, Montana voters rejected efforts to pass a similar measure in the state.
Members of Congress also passed a resolution condemning violence against crisis pregnancy centers, which are fake clinics run by anti-abortion groups. In response, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution highlighting the alarming number of attacks on abortion clinics.
Tuesday, Jan. 17
+ Climate activist, Greta Thunberg, was detained in Germany, alongside other activists during protests against the destruction of a village to make way for a coal mine expansion. She was released after an identity check, according to police.
Wednesday, Jan. 18
+ People living in abortion-restrictive states earn $3.75 less per hour than their counterparts in states where abortion is legal, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report also found that restrictive states incarcerate people at 1.5 times the rate of protected states.
“There is strong empirical evidence that abortion denial and abortion bans have negative economic consequences, from prolonged financial distress to lower wages and earnings, employment, educational attainment and economic mobility,” said Asha Banerjee, economic analyst at EPI and author of the report.
Sunday, Jan 22.
+ On the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Biden issued a memorandum instructing the leaders of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice and Homeland Security to consider new guidance to support patients, providers and pharmacies in accessing mifepristone.
Monday, Jan. 23
+ New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez has asked the state supreme court to wipe out local anti-abortion laws passed in conservative parts of the state. Two counties have passed laws that make it harder for pregnant people to access care.
“This is not Texas,” said Torrez in a statement. “Our state constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights.” New Mexico is among the states taking action to not only protect the abortion access already available in the state, but to also expand services.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
+ A federal jury found former Manhattan gynecologist, Robert Hadden, 64, guilty of sex trafficking for sexually abusing nine of his female patients. One of his victims Marissa Hoechstetter, co-authored a Ms. article on him in 2018.
“Robert Hadden was a predator in a white coat,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement. “For years, he cruelly lured women who sought professional medical care to his offices in order to gratify himself.”
Friday, Jan. 27
+ Asian American and Pacific Islander and farmworker communities in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, Calif., were trying to celebrate Lunar New Year and work to support their families when they were met with horrific gun violence. There have been more mass shootings in the U.S. than days in the year in 2023.
“It’s hard to imagine gun violence worsening,” Alliance for Justice warned, “but the recent Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen and a U.S. appeals court ruling California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21 unconstitutional could make that a reality and put other remaining regulations in danger of being dismantled.”
Rakim H.D. Brooks, president of Alliance for Justice, issued the following statement:
“The epidemic of gun violence has for far too long been a part of America’s daily life. There’s no doubt it will get worse if courts put gun lobby special interests over people’s basic right to live without the fear of being gunned down while doing everyday tasks. Too often, communities at the margins — most recently AAPI and farmworker communities in California — bear the brunt of this scourge of violence. We cannot let the courts shove gun safety measures even further backward. We will do everything in our power to keep fighting for courts willing to protect public safety and commonsense gun reform that is constitutional and saves lives.”
Saturday, Jan. 28
+ Over the weekend, protests erupted nationwide after the disturbing video of police assaulting Tyre Nichols was released. Nichols, 29, died earlier this month—three days after being punched, kicked, tased and pepper-sprayed by five officers. The officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder.
Protesters are demanding justice and accountability. The Memphis PD disbanded the special “violent crime” unit the officers belonged to and said it will “discuss the path forward” for the department. Experts warn that a U.S. culture of policing puts Black Americans at risk. After this attack, people are turning their attention to systemic biases and to Congress to address police reform.
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.