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 ….
- Republicans are trying to make it harder to add progressive ballot measures to state-level elections. Mississippi advanced a proposal that would ban voters from using ballot measures to change abortion laws. In states like Ohio, Missouri and Florida, they’re working to raise the standards on ballot measures to require a much higher percentage of voters to pass.
- A woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth, according to a new study. Maternal mortality rates are growing or remaining stagnant rather than following the declining trend from 2000 to 2015.
- A South Carolina woman was arrested and charged after allegedly taking abortion pills to end her pregnancy in October 2021.
- Republicans in states such as Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas have introduced bills that would bring homicide charges for abortion.
- A new Wyoming law banning all abortion was blocked.
- Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed legislation allowing physician assistants to provide abortion care. Green also repealed a requirement that abortions be performed at a hospital or clinic—ensuring access to medication abortion via telemedicine.
- The intensity of support for abortion access has not decreased, new polling from Navigator Research shows.
Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way over the last month.
Wednesday, March 1
+ The U.S. incarcerates women at a higher rate than any other country in the world, according to a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI). Incarcerated women are typically low-income and caught up in policies that criminalize poverty. The PPI also found that incarcerated women:
- are more often in local jails than state prisons with fewer healthcare resources and less programming,
- are usually mothers to minor children,
- typically have physical and cognitive disabilities or mental health conditions, and
- were mostly jobless leading up to their incarceration.
+ The gender pay gap has barely improved in the past 20 years, according to a new study from Pew Research Center. This raises the question about why women’s recent gains in higher education or workplace opportunities haven’t placed them on more equal financial footing. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the pay gap narrowed by 15 cents. But in 2022, women made an average of 82 cents for every dollar made by men in 2002. Progress has stalled.
“There was so much to gain before because women were so far behind, and now we’re again confronting structural problems,” said Debra Lancaster, executive director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. “We’re left with glass ceilings and concrete ceilings, particularly for Latino and Black women, and there is a pervasive undervaluing of women’s work.”
Thursday, March 2
+ Walgreens, led by CEO Roz Brewer, confirmed earlier this month that it would not dispense abortion pills in several U.S. states where they remain legal—out of “an abundance of caution.” In February, about two dozen Republican state attorney generals threatened legal action if Walgreens supplies the pills. Currently, Walgreens doesn’t distribute abortion pills anywhere in the U.S. but is seeking certification to do so.
Monday, March 6
+ After significant backlash, Walgreens walked back its plan not to dispense abortion pills in states where abortion is still legal. In a statement on the pharmacy chain vowed to offer mifepristone where it is still possible to do so.
Monday, March 13
+ If the top 10 most common jobs for women working full time, year-round paid the same as the top 10 jobs for men, those women would take home an additional $96 billion in pay in one year, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families. The report details the negative effects of “occupational segregation” on women in the workforce, and its impact on women of color and women with disabilities.
- Women make up only 30 percent of the top 20 occupations with the highest pay, and those jobs exist largely in STEM fields.
- Women make up two-thirds of the 20 lowest-paying occupations
“Women’s work has been undervalued for generations solely based on the fact that they are primary caregivers in many families and these new findings make it clear where the divisions lie in terms of pay and opportunity,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “The infrastructure investments made by the Biden administration have created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to increase women’s share of higher paying construction and manufacturing jobs which will not only support our economy but also help close the wage gap.”
Tuesday, March 14
+ Former New Orleans police officer Rodney Vicknair, 55, was sentenced in federal court to 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old survivor in violation of her constitutional rights. In May 2020, Vicknair escorted a then-14-year-old girl—who had been sexually assaulted by another man—to the hospital to undergo a rape kit. Vicknair gave the survivor his cell phone number and offered to be her friend and mentor. Over time, Vicknair exchanged messages with the survivor, often stopped by unannounced at her residence and made comments that were sexual in nature.
“We are grateful to this young survivor for coming forward, even though she thought no one would believe her,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Had she not been willing to do so, we would not have been able to hold the defendant accountable for his heinous crime. This case should send a strong message to law enforcement officers who sexually abuse victims, particularly children, that they are not above the law and will be held accountable.”
Thursday, March 16
+ Maternal mortality rates increased by more than one-third in 2021—with the Hispanic maternal death rate increasing by 54 percent and the Black maternal death rate increasing by 26 percent. According to the report from U.S. health officials, this was the third consecutive year the nation’s maternal mortality rate increased.
Monday, March 20
+ A Manhattan federal judge ruled against Donald Trump in his efforts to keep evidence out of his civil rape trial brought by former journalist E. Jean Carroll. This means key witnesses will be allowed to testify and that misogynistic remarks Trump made about women in 2005—when he didn’t know he was being recorded—can be played for a jury.
Tuesday, March 21
+ All forms of hormonal contraception increase the risk of developing breast cancer by 20 to 30 percent, according to a study conducted on 10,000 women under 50 who developed breast cancer in the U.K. between 1996 and 2017. This side effect is associated with current or recent use of progestin-only contraceptives or those combining progestin and estrogen.
+ Three out of four adults want to see Congress pass laws strengthening equal pay laws, expanding access to childcare, and guaranteeing access to paid sick leave, according to a new poll commissioned by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and conducted by Morning Consult. The poll also found that two out of three adults want to see Congress pass legislation securing the right to access abortion for women. Many believe that these issues should a top priority for Congress this year.
“The post-Roe world is proving a dangerous one for women seeking reproductive health services,” said Daisy Chin-Lor, president and CEO of IWPR. “Every day states throw up new barriers to women seeking care. This issue is fundamental to the health and well-being of women in America and there is a strong desire to see Congress act to protect women now.
Thursday, March 23
+ World Athletics—the international governing body that sanctions competitions for sports such as track and field and cross-country running—voted to virtually ban all transgender women from elite athletics and to “tighten restrictions on intersex competitors.” The new regulations take effect March 31, so the body will begin excluding all “male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings.”
“We are beyond devastated to see World Athletics succumbing to political pressure instead of core principles of inclusion, fairness and non-discrimination for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations,” said Hudson Taylor, founder of the nonprofit LGBTQ+ sports advocacy group Athlete Ally, in a statement to CNN. The new regulations “do nothing to address what we know to be the actual, proven threats to women’s sports: unequal pay, rampant sexual abuse and harassment, lack of women in leadership and inequities in resources for women athletes.”
Tuesday, March 28
+ The FDA announced it has set a new date—May 9 and 10—to review the application for the first U.S. progestin-only over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pill. Victoria Nichols, project director of Free the Pill, a campaign to educate and engage the public in support of an OTC birth control option in the United States, released the following statement:
“After nearly two decades of coalition-driven efforts, we are on the cusp of making birth control pills more equitably accessible. It’s time to free the pill and ensure that those who have long faced the most barriers to care due to systemic inequities have access to an over-the-counter birth control pill that is priced affordably and covered by insurance. The days of the current prescription requirement—a barrier that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, Latina/x, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, LGBTQ+ folks, young people, people with disabilities, and those working to make ends meet—are numbered. As the FDA convenes its advisory committee meeting this Free the Pill Day, we’ll truly be closer than ever to birth control pills being available over the counter.”
With a similar sentiment, Janette Robinson-Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness issued the following statement:
“We are glad to see the FDA taking a step forward towards making over-the-counter birth control pills a reality. For too long, barriers to contraception have fallen disproportionately hard on Black women and other communities of color. Access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including affordable and accessible over-the-counter birth control pills, is crucial for Black women to control our lives and our destinies.”
Friday, March 31
+ As the U.S. observes Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday, legislatures around the country are filing record amounts of anti-trans legislation: 344 bills are pending in states across the country that target transgender people.
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.