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 this biweekly roundup.
Lest We Forget
“I’m a lifelong dairy farmer who retired, still own part of the dairy; grew up on the farm. 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.”
—Iowa state Rep. Jack Nelsen (R) in the first Agricultural Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10. He soon after apologized for his “inappropriate” remarks comparing women to cows.
“This is not a theoretical concern. For decades, pregnant people across the country have been arrested, subjected to prosecution, detained, sent to jail, separated from their children, and have had medical interventions forced upon them because of their pregnancy outcomes, including for self-managing their abortions or seeking care after experiencing a miscarriage.
“Our country has a long history of attempting to control the reproduction and building of families, especially in communities of color. The people most likely to be surveilled, targeted, and harmed by our nation’s carceral system are people with low incomes and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Many of the documented cases where pregnant people were subjected to unjust criminalization occurred even before the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which stripped away the constitutional right to abortion.
“As we have watched an already devastating abortion access crisis become far worse, and the threats of criminalization for both providers and patients increase as states move to ban abortion, it is more important than ever to protect people who seek essential health care and the providers that care for them from the threat of criminalization.”
—An open letter to three health insurance companies signed by Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) and 17 other Congress members. The signatories oppose the Provider/Quality Incentive Programs, which allows clinicians to report pregnant patients’ private information for financial incentives.
“As an educator, I have spent the past 18 years of my life dedicated to providing students with quality literature. Helping them connect with books and develop of [sic] love of lifelong learning. Receiving notice today that classroom libraries are to be dismantled is a travesty to education, the future of our children and our nation.”
—A teacher in Manatee County, Fla., where students are no longer permitted access to unapproved books due to a policy passed by right-wing legislators and Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
A bookstore in Florida is featuring books banned from schools. When you see them all together like this, you see how many of the covers feature nonwhite faces. pic.twitter.com/kD1O2KkgNL— Ark Horton – SFF Author (@ArkHorton) February 6, 2023
“Members of our Cabinet and our administration are now directed to identify barriers to access and recommend actions to make sure that: doctors can legally prescribe, that pharmacies can dispense and that women can secure safe and effective medication. …
“Even in states that protect reproductive rights, like New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon—even there, people live in fear of what might be next, because Republicans in Congress are now calling for a nationwide abortion ban. Even from the moment of conception, the right of every woman in every state in this country to make decisions about her own body is on the line. And I said it before and I will say it again: How dare they?”
—Vice President Kamala Harris (D) in a speech on the future of reproductive rights under the Biden administration, delivered on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Tallahassee, Florida.
+ The Grammys saw wins (and losses) for women performers and feminist causes.
- With 32 Grammy wins, Beyoncé has set a new record: most decorated artist in the awards’ history. She also became the first Black woman to win Dance/Electronic Album of the Year. But the ceremony failed to award her with Album of the Year for Renaissance, instead giving the trophy to Harry Styles.
- Lizzo won record of the year for her retro dance anthem “About Damn Time.”
- Song of the year went to Bonnie Raitt for “Just Like That.”
- Samara Joy, a 23-year-old jazz singer, won best new artist. Her first album is called Linger Awhile.
- Viola Davis became an EGOT—an acronym for someone who has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards.
- Kim Petras became the second trans woman and first out trans person to win a Grammy, securing the win for best pop duo/group performance alongside Sam Smith. (The first trans woman to win a Grammy was Wendy Carlos in 1969.)
- The anthem of Iran’s protest movement, “Baraye,” was honored with a Grammy.
- Adele won best pop solo performance for ballad, “Easy on Me.”
(View a list of all the winners here.)
+ On Wednesday, Jan. 18, New York City began providing abortion pills at a sexual health clinic in the Bronx, in addition to the 11 public hospitals where misoprostol was already available. The medication will eventually be free of charge at four clinics as part of a program seen in “no other city in the nation or in the world,” according to Mayor Eric Adams (D).
+ The Coalition for Women in Journalism announced this year’s inaugural Kathy Gannon Legacy Award recipients as Zahra Nader, an Afghan-Canadian journalist who founded the Zan Times, and Joanna Chiu, chair of NuVoices and an international affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.
“Both of these journalists have been selected because in addition to their intrepid courageous reporting from difficult countries, their work demonstrates a sense of duty and a devotion to community,” the coalition wrote in a statement.
+ Singer Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s only child, died at age 54 following a cardiac arrest on Thursday, Jan. 12. A musician like her father, she released her first album in 2003.
“I wanted people to know who I am based on my music, not on what they read in the tabloids,” she told the LA Times.
+ Council Delegate Crystalyne Curley is the Navajo Nation’s first woman speaker following an election on Monday, Jan. 23. She will serve in this role for two years, alongside nine other women elected to the council and the nation’s first female vice president.
“I’m one of the products of no electricity, no water, and to this day I still don’t have cell service within my home and it’s these troubles that some of the leaders don’t know the struggle of,” Curley said. “I wanted to use my platform to speak for those who live far off the highway, that live in the rural parts of our nation. I speak for the people who are way out there who don’t have the highways, or the resources to get to the chapter houses, to get to Window Rock.”
Congratulations to newly elected Delegate Crystalyne Curley on her election as the first-ever woman to serve as the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council.— Governor Katie Hobbs (@GovernorHobbs) January 24, 2023
I look forward to working with you as we build a strong partnership between my administration and the Navajo Nation. pic.twitter.com/vUtEicMyGc
+ Democratic fundraising organization ActBlue announced its first Black woman CEO, Regina Wallace-Jones, on Thursday, Jan. 19. Wallace-Jones comes to the role with experience in technology and politics.
+ The Biden administration released a “Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights“ in an announcement on Wednesday, Jan. 25, which could slow down rising rent prices and protect tenants from certain eviction practices.
“Our nation’s rental market is defined by a patchwork of state and local laws and legal processes that renters and rental housing providers must navigate,” the blueprint reads. “That patchwork of renters rights, a shortfall of affordable housing, and a longstanding challenge of rents rising faster than incomes contribute to housing insecurity that millions of American renters experience every year.”
+ Members of Congress reintroduced a bill to protect people’s right to travel across state lines for abortion services.
GOOD NEWS: Today @RepFletcher, @RepStricklandWA & @RepRaskin introduced legislation to protect the right to travel for abortion. Now is the time to reaffirm the right to interstate travel so people traveling to seek abortion care are able to do so without the threat of penalties. https://t.co/pplUDeGP0y— Center for Reproductive Rights (@ReproRights) February 2, 2023
+ Five former Memphis police offices responsible for the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop were charged with second-degree murder on Thursday, Jan. 26. Body camera footage exists of the brutal encounter on Saturday, Jan. 7.
“Mothers around the world, when their babies are born, pray to God when they hold that child that that body and that life will be safe for the rest of his life. Yet we have a mother and father who mourn the life of a young man who should be here today,” said Vice President Harris at the funeral.
+ Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed legislation on Saturday, Jan. 28 prohibiting gender-affirming care for youth in the state. It bans gender-affirming surgery for minors and hormone therapy for those not yet officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
+ New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez urged the state’s supreme court to reject local ordinances that restrict abortion access within the state on Monday, Jan. 23.
“This is not Texas. Our state constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights,” Torrez said. “Today’s action sends a strong message that my office will use every available tool to swiftly and decisively uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach.”
How We’re Doing
+ The Economic Policy Institute reported that in states with severe abortion restrictions, residents also endure lower minimum wages, higher levels of incarceration and worse unemployment benefits.
“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 report author and economic analyst Asha Banerjee.
+ Medicaid expansion may be a key factor in determining maternal mortality rates in the U.S., a study in Health Affairs found. Authors noted that the 40 states that have expanded Medicaid coverage experience fewer hospitalizations post-delivery.
+ Researchers found that barriers to contraception care may lead to increased interest in over-the-counter oral contraceptives among BIPOC people in the United States. Among the 45 percent who “reported experiencing at least one challenge accessing contraception in the past year,” 67 percent said they would likely make use of OTC contraception.
+ Fifty-six percent of LGBTQ+ parents in Florida considered moving out-of-state due to HB 1557, the Don’t Say Gay bill, according to research by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Nearly a quarter are concerned about harassment due of their identity, and those with children in public schools are the most fearful.
+ A Pew Research poll of parents with children under age 18 revealed that 40 percent of respondents are “extremely” or “very” concerned about their children’s mental health, and another 36 percent were “somewhat” worried.
“During the [COVID-19] pandemic, we’ve seen increased rates of depression and anxiety,” pediatric psychiatrist Chase Anderson said. “Being back in school doesn’t mean kids aren’t still dealing with the trauma of social isolation they felt before.”
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.