Keeping Score: Mourning Nashville and a U.S. Culture of Mass Shootings; Democrats in Congress Reintroduce Bills to Protect Abortion Access

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

“Why in God’s name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets and our schools? I never thought when I started my public life that guns would be the No. 1 killer of children in America. … Congress has to act.”

—President Joe Biden after Monday’s shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., which killed six people.
Protesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws on March 30, 2023, in Nashville. A 28-year-old former student of the private Covenant School in Nashville, wielding a handgun and two AR-style weapons, shot and killed three 9-year-old students and three adults before being killed by responding police officers on March 27. (Seth Herald / Getty Images)

“We’re not going to fix it. Criminals are going to be criminals.”

—U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), despite evidence that shows legislation does reduce U.S. gun violence. Burchett has a 92% rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has voted in favor of gun rights every opportunity he could since taking office.

“All they want to do is take guns away from law-abiding citizens before they even know the facts. And that’s not the answer.”

—House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), with a perfect score—100%—from the NRA.

“Mass shootings dropped significantly when the 1994 [assault weapons] ban went into effect, and then spiked when the ban expired.”

—Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has led the push for gun control legislation in the Senate. The NRA scored him with 0%. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave him 100%.

“While we are well aware of threatening letters you received with regard to the distribution of mifepristone in certain states, the response to those pressures was unacceptable and appeared to yield to these threats—ignoring the critical need to ensure patients can get this essential health care wherever possible. …

“At a time of great confusion about abortion access, your company has done the disservice of adding to it. … Pharmacists are one of the most trusted health care providers, and we know they already face daily intimidation tactics just in the prospect of dispensing this prescription drug. We also know that your customers rely on Walgreens to help them understand the products they are taking.

“It is imperative that Walgreens clarify its approach to the distribution of mifepristone, if certified to do so, and clearly explain to your customers and the public where and how the product could be accessible.”

—Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and 15 others in a March 13 open letter to Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer regarding the company’s refusal to dispense abortion medication, even in places where it is legal.

“Today, the court rightfully stopped one of the most extreme laws in the country from taking effect and depriving North Dakotans of their reproductive freedom. Under the state constitution, North Dakotans are promised the rights to life, liberty, safety and happiness, all of which protect the right to abortion. In state after state, people have made clear that they want this right protected, yet state officials continue to ignore the will of their citizens. We will continue to work tirelessly to protect North Dakotans and the fundamental human rights of all people.”

—Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup on the North Dakota Supreme Court’s decision to rule the state’s “trigger” law unconstitutional. The law would ban all abortions statewide, and was blocked approximately one month after the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“While you and company executives appear to have been successful in cashing out before the crash, SVB’s customers were not as lucky. Many depositors were unable to access their funds last week, leaving small businesses and nonprofits questioning how they were going to make payroll in time, and leaving those businesses’ workers wondering whether they would still have a job in the coming weeks.

“The consequences of SVB’s failure triggered concerns about contagion spreading to other parts of the financial system—forcing the federal government to backstop depositors and protect the economy. You have nobody to blame for the failure at your bank but yourself and your fellow executives. You lobbied for weaker rules, got what you wanted, and used this opportunity to abdicate your basic responsibilities to your clients and the public—facilitating a near-economic disaster.”

—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a letter to former president and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, Greg Becker, regarding his responsibility for the bank’s collapse.

“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office. This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis—any basis—on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue. If these reports are accurate, your actions will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election. In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”

—A letter from the chairs of three House Committees—Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.)—encouraging Donald Trump’s social media attacks against Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. The former president’s recent posts on Truth Social include claims that Bragg would be arrested, and calls for his supporters to protest Trump’s indictment in New York for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels.


+ On Tuesday, March 28, exactly 100 years after the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced in Congress, members of the House of Representatives launched the first-ever Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment.

From left: Reps. Jennifer McClellan, Judy Chu, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush announce the launch of the Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday, March 28. (@RepPressley / Twitter)

+ On Thursday, March 30, Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’ Abortion Rights and Access Task Force; Judy Chu (Calif.), Congresswoman Lois Frankel (Fla.), and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (Texas) led 204 of their House colleagues to introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 (WHPA). The law would create a federal right for healthcare providers to provide abortion care and a right for patients to receive that care.

“We must act with urgency, abolish the Jim Crow filibuster, and enshrine the right to abortion care into federal law, once and for all,” said Pressley.

+ U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Wednesday re-introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, which would guarantee insurance coverage for abortion, including Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as insurance plans for federal employees.

“In the wake of a catastrophic Dobbs decision that ushered in extreme Republican abortion bans stripping tens of millions of women of their reproductive rights, we need to keep working to ensure that no one’s ability to get the abortion care they need depends on the zip code they live in or the money sitting in their bank account,” said Murray.

+ U.S. Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.), vice chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) were joined by fellow Democrats Reps. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Marilyn Strickland (Wash.) in reintroducing their legislation, the Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act, which would repeal the 1973 Helms Amendment to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and ensure that U.S. foreign assistance may be used for safe and legal abortion services in their home countries.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference to reintroduce the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act outside the U.S. Capitol on March 23, 2023. The bill authorizes the use of certain foreign assistance funds to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare services in developing countries, including abortion services, training and equipment. (Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)

+ A devastating shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. by a 28-year-old former student killed three elementary school students and three staff members on Monday, March 27: Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60. Mike Hill, 61, and Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9.

“Our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church,” the school said in a statement. “We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff and beginning the process of healing.”

A demonstrator displays a picture of the victims of the Covenant School shooting on their phone inside the Tennessee State Capitol during a protest against gun violence on March 30, 2023 in Nashville. (Seth Herald / Getty Images)

+ A New York grand jury has voted to charge Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme.

“All of this is deeply worrying for anyone who cares about the stability of our democratic institutions,” warned Jackson Katz. “To the extent that violence in political rhetoric and practice is normalized, democracy itself is imperiled. In order for this not to happen, it is important that people in politics and public life denounce political violence and the people who promote it—or make excuses for it.”

+ After a three-day strike by Los Angeles Unified School District employees, union leaders secured a 30 percent pay raise and raised the district’s minimum wage to $22.52. Employees who work four or more hours a day will also be guaranteed free healthcare for their families. SEIU Local 99 union reached the deal on Friday with the help of Mayor Karen Bass, who took office in December.

+ Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) introduced the Pay Teachers Act in Congress on Thursday, March 9, a law which would support teacher retention following the COVID-19 pandemic by requiring a minimum $60,000 annual base salary for public school educators across the U.S.

“Wages for public school teachers are so low that in 36 states, the average public school teacher with a family of four qualifies for food stamps, public housing and other government assistance programs,” Sanders said in a statement. “If we are going to have the best public school system in the world, we have got to radically change our attitude toward education and make sure that every teacher in America receives the compensation that they deserve for the enormously important and difficult work that they do.”

+ Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed a law on Wednesday, March 15, which will prevent abortion clinics from applying for licenses as of May 3. It would fully ban abortion clinics starting in 2024. The bill outlined exceptions for emergency abortions “so that those abortions can continue. They will continue in a hospital setting, but there’s nothing to prevent those from continuing,” Cox said.

However, by only providing abortion care in hospitals, the state’s residents are likely to face higher costs and insufficient medical personnel to fill surgical teams.

+ In Ohio, a proposed ballot measure is collecting voter signatures to protect abortion rights. If approved, the state Constitution would be amended to include the right to abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb. The measures needs 413,000 signatures by July 5 in order to appear on the ballot.

“This grassroots initiative—by and for the people of Ohio—will create common-sense guarantees for Ohioans’ freedom to make decisions about their own reproductive healthcare, including abortion,” Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom’s Kellie Copeland said in a statement Monday.

+ Organizations such as the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists filed seven amicus briefs in Florida to challenge H.B. 5, the state’s 15-week abortion ban. The initial case, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, et al. v. State of Florida, et al., was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights in June 2022.

“The evidence is clear—Florida’s 15-week ban has inflicted devastating harms on residents,” the Center’s interim director of litigation Autumn Katz said. “Experts ranging from community advocacy groups to faith leaders from diverse backgrounds to the nation’s leading women’s health organization have documented how these impacts have jeopardized Floridians’ health and lives for almost a year now. It is up to the Florida Supreme Court to step in and protect Floridians’ rights under the state constitution and their freedom to control their own bodies.”

Meanwhile, a proposed ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in Florida is moving closer to becoming law.

How We’re Doing

+ A study released in February found that distributing abortion medication by mail “does not delay care” in the U.S. By comparing the time between visiting a provider and taking the mifepristone pill, researchers found that intervals were similar for patients receiving the medications in a clinic versus by mail.

+ A subsequent article published in Contraception provided assurance that taking only misoprostol is safe for abortion patients in the U.S. The WHO had already endorsed misoprostol-only abortion regimens, but U.S.-specific data was scarce. Researchers conducted a review and found that “at most 0.7 percent of patients were hospitalized or received a transfusion.”

The World Health Organization recommends two regimens for medication abortion: misoprostol alone or combined with another medication, mifepristone. In a recent study, almost 99 percent of those who used the misoprostol-alone regimen had a complete abortion without surgical intervention. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

+ A report by the National Partnership for Women & Families highlighted the role of occupational segregation in exacerbating the gender pay gap. The top 10 occupations employing women pay drastically less than the top 10 occupations for men. For the top 10 occupations in which women of color are overrepresented, the discrepancy is as high as $17,500. The gap is over $50 thousand for Black women.

Report authors Jessica Mason and Katherine Gallagher Robbins recommended expanding hiring opportunities and centering equity in job creation. They also emphasized the importance of enacting policies such as the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act to make jobs more accessible to those with caregiving responsibilities, and the Paycheck Fairness Act to protect against wage discrimination.

+ Recent data on workplace injuries revealed a substantial increase in intentional workplace harm, despite decreases among most other causes of injury.

“To understand who is being attacked, we analyzed the largest category—hitting, kicking, beating, shoving—by gender. The gap was alarming. Not only are women far more likely to be attacked and injured so badly that they miss work, but almost all the past decade’s increase in hitting, kicking, beating and shoving in the workplace has been targeted at women,” Washington Post analyst Andrew Van Dam wrote.

“Violent injury by others” was the top or second cause of workplace injuries for psychiatric aides and technicians and railroad conductors and yardmasters in 2019. Attacks against teaching assistants and personal care aides have been on the rise.

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_.