Keeping Score: Governors Band Together to Support Abortion; Anti-Abortion Ads Target Low-Income Women

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

“The right of every woman in every state in this country to make decisions about her own body is on the line. And I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: How dare they? …

“Let us ask, can we truly be free if a woman cannot make decisions about her own body? Can we truly be free if a doctor cannot care for her patients? Can we truly be free if families cannot make intimate decisions about the course of their own lives?”

—Vice President Kamala Harris speaking in Tallahassee, Fla.—where abortion rights and reproductive justice are under attack—on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“Research shows that transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and nonbinary youths are victimized at the highest rates, meaning that teen dating violence disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable young people in our country. It is the job of adults and those of us in the justice system to do everything we can to protect these teens and guide them toward healthy relationships. …

“As a mother of two boys—one teenager and one not far behind—I see on a personal level the world kids today face. I try to impart to them the skills and empathy to navigate it—and, importantly, I listen. It is young people who are best equipped to understand their lived realities, and it is they who must lead. That is why in today’s program we are centering the voices of youth leaders.”

—Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement on Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, an even by the Office on Violence Against Women.

Attendee: Are you thinking about what to do about abortion pills? Would you like to ban those?

Pence: To me, it’s … I’m pro-life, and I think that’s a real issue and it’s really dangerous. Really dangerous.

Attendee: I think you can ban them though, don’t you think?

Pence: Uh you can, and we need to. We need to.

—Mike Pence answering questions regarding the banning of medication abortion—the most common form of modern abortion procedure—at a book signing event in Houston, Texas.

“… the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources. …

“Some of us are trans, non⁠-⁠binary or gender nonconforming, and we resent the fact that our work, but not our person, is good enough for the paper of record. Some of us are cis, and we have seen those we love discover and fight for their true selves, often swimming upstream against currents of bigotry and pseudoscience fomented by the kind of coverage we here protest.”

—An open letter from more than 170 of the New York Times’ contributors—both cisgender and transgender—regarding the platform’s coverage of gender-affirming care for trans minors, and of transgender issues in general.


+ A fatal mass shooting at Michigan State University on Monday, Feb. 13, killed three students and injured five others, devastating students and staff at the Lansing, Mich., campus.

“Something so traumatic is devastating no matter what age you are,” said senior Jackie Matthews, who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a decade prior.

A memorial at the MSU Union building is shown on Feb. 20, the day Michigan State University students returned to classes for the first time since the Feb. 13 mass shooting. (Bill Pugliano / Getty Images)

+ Twenty Democratic governors announced a coalition in support of abortion rights on Tuesday, Feb. 21, pledging to shield their states from attacks on reproductive freedom. The alliance includes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who spearheaded the initiative, as well as the governors of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both of which have Republican-majority legislatures.

“As governors representing nearly 170 million people across every region of the country, we are standing with all people who believe in reproductive freedom and health care. … In the last year alone, over 36 million women have lost access to critical health care with the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” the governors wrote in a statement announcing the coalition.

+ Federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Texas, has the power to prohibit use of mifepristone, a widely used abortion medication, in a case challenging the FDA’s 20-year-old approval of the drug.

“That decision left the decision about abortion up to the states,” Jenny Ma, a senior counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “But this would be one court in Texas deciding whether or not medication abortion could be allowed across this country, even in states that have protected abortion since the Dobbs decision.”

+ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who at age 89 has served in the Senate longer than any woman in U.S. history, announced she will be retiring in 2024 after more than 30 years representing California in the Senate. She said she intends to “accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year, when my term ends.”

+ All 49 awards at the 2023 BAFTAs on Sunday, Feb. 19 were given to white recipients, despite nearly 40 percent of nominees being people of color.

+ Beyoncé broke a record at the 2023 Grammys on Sunday, Feb. 5, making history with the most Grammy awards of any musician: 32.

How We’re Doing

+ Research by the Tech Transparency Project found that Google ads for anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” disproportionately reach low-income women in Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix, where data was collected. When entering relevant search terms in Phoenix, crisis pregnancy centers comprised over half (56 percent) of the ads shown to low- and moderate-income women, as compared to only 7 percent of the ads shown to high-income users.

“By pointing low-income women to [crisis pregnancy centers] more frequently than higher-income women in states with restrictive laws, Google may delay these women from finding an actual abortion clinic to get a legal and safe abortion,” Tech Transparency Project director Katie Paul said.

+ A study of 2 million births in California found that not only is mortality dramatically higher amongst Black infants, but income is also not protective for Black pregnancies in the same way it is for white ones.

(The New York Times)

The research suggests even worse disparities in other parts of the country that do not have the same family leave and insurance support programs aimed at maternal mortality as California. However, other wealthy nations such as Sweden are doing far better when it comes to reducing preterm birth and low birth weight.

+ More than three-in-four U.S. K-12 teachers are women, but women are drastically underrepresented among superintendents. Less than a quarter of superintendents—and only 54 percent of principles—are women.

“Women are more hesitant to pursue the role until they feel like they’re absolutely prepared for the role with every possible experience,” former superintendent and head of Chiefs for Change’s Women in Leadership initiative Barbara Jenkins said. “Males, on the other hand, are anxious enough to move forward and apply if they already have or possess about 50 percent of the skills.”

+ Dissatisfaction with abortion policy is the highest it’s been in over 20 years. For the first time in Gallup’s 23-year tracking of abortion policy sentiments in the U.S., 69 percent of adults are dissatisfied with abortion laws. Of those who are dissatisfied, three-in-four want to loosen abortion restrictions.


+ At least 1,192 murders—comprising almost 5 percent of all homicides in the U.S. in 2022—were committed by police officers last year. The proportion was even higher in some cities, such as Vallejo, California, where police committed 30 percent of the city’s murders in 2012.

“There is a lot of fear, with mass shootings and gun violence in general, that some stranger will show up wherever you are and kill you,” Mapping Police Violence founder Samuel Sinyangwe said. “But police contribute a large part to those numbers.”

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.


Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a junior 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_.