Keeping Score: Florida’s New Extreme Abortion Ban; Democrats Urge Investigation on Clarence Thomas’ Misconduct; Abortion Pill Fight Heads to Supreme Court

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 [global gag rule] endangers lives around the world by putting the U.S. government in between a doctor and a patient. The policy also prevents access to basic healthcare services, including abortion care, maternal and child healthcare; HIV prevention, treatment and care; nutrition services; and more. Constantly revoking and reinstating the GGR causes harm, no matter which party holds the U.S. presidency.

“We will not stand by silently as lawmakers continue to endanger people all across the globe and play politics with the lives of women, young people, LGBTQI+ people, sex workers, and so many other impacted communities.”

—Fòs Feminista associate director of U.S. global advocacy Katherine Olivera on the re-introduction of the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act in Congress, which would put an end to the GGR and allow organizations that receive U.S. aid to offer or advise patients on abortion.

Advocates stage political theater outside Trump International Hotel on May 25, 2017 to protest the global gag rule. For decades, Republican administrations have instituted the global gag rule, which has blocked healthcare access, stifled local advocacy efforts, and undermined reproductive rights worldwide—and Democratic presidential administrations have repealed it. (Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images)

“They’re treating this like this is normal. We can never normalize the ending of democracy. We can never normalize the tyranny of the way that these people in positions of power are operating due to white supremacy and … the patriarchy. That is what we’re up against. But we are going to fight it because we think there is a future that we can live into that is better than the present we currently have.”

—Tennessee state Rep. Justin Pearson (D) at an anti-gun violence protest on Thursday, March 30, following the deadly school shooting in Nashville three days prior.

Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones (D) were expelled from the state House in votes held on Friday, while an expulsion vote against their white colleague Rep. Gloria Johnson (D) failed. Jones and Pearson were both reinstated by local officials.

“Young people need abortions whether Idaho lawmakers like it or not. Restricting travel for abortion will have huge repercussions for Idahoans who already face a myriad of barriers when trying to access the care that they need—just recently we saw a major labor and delivery unit shutting down in Idaho because abortion and pregnancy-related healthcare are inextricable. We don’t even know what the next unintended consequences of these bills will be, and Idaho lawmakers don’t either.

This bill does not serve the best interests or needs of people in the Gem State; it further underscores that the Idaho legislature is more interested in implementing its anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-democracy agenda, than making laws that actually serve the needs of their constituents. …

Thankfully, while the Idaho legislature is failing the very people it represents, surrounding states, like Oregon and Washington, are implementing legislation that will continue to support all Idahoans’ reproductive freedom.

People in the Gem State, especially young people, deserve better—they deserve reproductive freedom, free from restrictions and criminalization.”

—A statement by the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) condemning Idaho legislators’ continued efforts to limit reproductive health care, forcing residents into surrounding states like Washington and Oregon.

“NWLC has been fighting for over 50 years to see Title IX fulfill its promise to ensure all students are given equal opportunities and protected from sex discrimination. Extremist politicians continue to manufacture panic over trans girls’ inclusion in school and school athletics instead of addressing the real changes and protections girls need in sports, including equal time and resources in school sports or addressing the rampant sexual abuse of student athletes. LGBTQI students deserve to learn and thrive – not be targets for state-sponsored bullying and violence.

We are grateful for the actions the Department of Education has taken to protect trans students and are ready to work to ensure that a final rule builds to further fight back against discrimination and misinformation, making crystal clear that trans, nonbinary and intersex students are entitled to support, respect. and equal rights and opportunity.”

—National Women’s Law Center president and CEO Fatima Goss Graves in response to the Biden administration’s new Title IX proposal, which would prevent schoolwide bans on transgender students playing on the team that corresponds to their gender identity.


+ Late Thursday night, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would ban most abortions in the state after six weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant. The six-week ban will take effect only if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld by the state Supreme Court, pending an ongoing legal challenge.

“There is not a single state in the union where banning abortion is popular—not even in Florida,” said NARAL president Mini Timmaraju. “No one wants the bans extremists like Ron DeSantis are forcing on them and he knows it, which is why he signed this bill in the dead of night behind closed doors. We can only guess that he thinks this grotesque ban is a path to a presidential nomination—and it might be. But, as Republicans are learning in every single election since Dobbs, it is not a path to victory. The more harm DeSantis and extremists are willing to inflict on their constituents in their quest for power, the worse Election Night will be for them.”

+ Dueling federal rulings on the abortion pill mifepristone have set up a Supreme Court fight. And on Friday, April 14, the Supreme Court issued a temporary order to preserve the status quo on abortion pills till next week, giving the justices time to study the case.

There are two different ways to have a medication abortion and end a pregnancy: using two different medicines, mifepristone (pictured) and misoprostol, or using only misoprostol. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

On Friday, April 7, in a much-awaited decision, Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ruled that the FDA improperly approved mifepristone, setting off a chain of responses from various other courts—including an initial ruling from Rice just one hour later, issuing an injunction blocking the FDA from “altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of mifepristone.”

“This does not just affect women in Texas,” Biden said last week. “If it stands, it would prevent women in every state from accessing the medication, regardless of whether abortion is legal in a state.”

In addition, more than 250 pharmaceutical and biotech executives released an open letter condemning the ruling. “The decision ignores decades of scientific evidence and legal precedent,” the company leaders wrote. “Judicial activism will not stop here. If courts can overturn drug approvals without regard for science or evidence, or for the complexity required to fully vet the safety and efficacy of new drugs, any medicine is at risk for the same outcome as mifepristone.”

+ Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee this week announced a hearing on the need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards, and called on Chief Justice John Roberts to investigate Justice Clarence Thomas’ ethical misconduct, which was recently revealed by a ProPublica report.

“If the Court does not resolve this issue on its own, the committee will consider legislation to resolve it,” the lawmakers added.

+ A bill that passed the Idaho state legislature would make it illegal to help a minor obtain an abortion, which it calls “abortion trafficking,” unless they have parental consent. On April 6, Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) signed the bill into law. The penalty would carry two to five years in prison, as well as potential lawsuits by the minor’s parent.

“After nearly 10 years of failed attempts to deter cross-border abortion travel by teens, anti-abortion lawmakers in Congress largely gave up the fight. However, last week’s victory in Idaho makes clear that their long sought-after goal of restricting cross-border abortion access has been resurrected in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs,” wrote Shoshanna Ehrlich in Ms.

+ In Colorado, Democratic lawmakers voted to protect abortion seekers by banning deceptive strategies in crisis pregnancy centers and other anti-abortion organizations.

“The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade unleashed a wave of anti-abortion legislation across the country, which puts critical reproductive care for too many of our neighbors out of reach,” Sen. Julie Gonzales (D) said.

+ A West Virginia law excludes transgender girls from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, and the Supreme Court’s conservative majority voted against intervening after it was challenged by 12-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson.

Pepper-Jackson is undergoing “puberty-delaying treatment and estrogen hormone therapy,” and “has not experienced and will not experience endogenous puberty,” but is being prohibited from joining the girls’ track and field team for her fourth season.

+ “How can we vote for ourselves when we can’t vote for children?” North Dakota Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan (D) said in response to recent votes in the state legislature. Just 10 days after voting against free school lunches for low-income public school students, lawmakers voted to expand state employees’ meal reimbursement cap.

“I think it shows (the Senate’s) priorities are a little out of whack when they have no problem increasing the meal reimbursement rate for ourselves but not for those families that may be struggling to make ends meet,” Assistant House Minority Leader Zac Ista (D) said.

+ Union activist Jane LaTour died at age 76 in the Bronx on Monday, April 3, after years of reporting on the experiences of women in majority-male labor unions. She authored the book Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Working Women Organizing for Equality in New York City, in addition to teaching, running a nonprofit in support of union reforms, and other forms of advocacy.

How We’re Doing

+ A report on U.S. business executives found that 49 percent more CEOs left their jobs in February than in January—an increase of 11 percent from the February 2022—resulting in 167 openings. Thirty one percent of their replacement were women, marking an all-time high and a 5 percent increase from last year (26 percent). Although this is the highest percentage of women to take on CEO roles, 31 percent is still far from equitable.

+ Employees in the U.S. are unlikely to negotiate higher pay upon receiving a job offer, though 3 percent more men asked for a higher salary (32 percent) than women (28 percent). Even among women who did request a higher salary, 38 percent were unable to increase their initial salary offer, as compared to 31 percent of their male counterparts.

+ Women in the U.S. owe disproportionately on student loans, with men holding less than one-third of the country’s $1.7 trillion in student debt. This disparity may be attributable to the fact that women, especially women of color, face a significant pay gap once in the workforce and may require additional degrees or certifications in order to secure comparable status and salaries.

“At the end of the day, college should be affordable for everyone – not just for an elite few,” CEO Gloria L. Blackwell of the American Association of University Women said. “And women, in particular women of color, shouldn’t have to sacrifice their financial future to get the education that certainly is a potential pathway for equal economic opportunity.”

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_.