Keeping Score: Ralph Yarl’s Shooter Charged with Felonies; Zooey Zephyr Speaks Out; Biden Executive Orders on Environment and Care Work

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

“Decades of medical research and multiple objective assessments have shown that mifepristone is safe and effective. … As experienced medical professionals, with training in obstetrics, gynecology and complex family planning specialties, these providers are in the unique position to offer first-hand perspectives and experiences on the safety and efficacy of mifepristone, how providers share information and obtain informed consent from patients electing a course of treatment involving mifepristone, why access to mifepristone is critical, and the ways that limiting access to mifepristone would disrupt the standard medical practice nationwide.”

—An amicus brief filed by Physicians for Reproductive Health in support of FDA approval of abortion medication mifepristone, which was challenged in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA. On Friday, April 21, the Supreme Court blocked a previous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from taking effect, allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to remain on the market under current rules.
There are two different ways to have a medication abortion and end a pregnancy: using two different medicines, mifepristone (right) and misoprostol (left), or using only misoprostol. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

“If Dobbs returned the question of abortion back to the states and their elected leaders, what about my state and our elected leaders? Our voters spoke, and our leaders took action to reflect their will to strengthen access to abortion. So why is it that a judge in Texas has the last word when it comes to [medication] abortion in my state?

“The war on women’s health care has gone too far. That’s why this Senate needs to stop the chaos and protect a women’s right to choose once and for all by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act… We’ve learned what happens when you revoke a constitutional right from the American people. We can never let that happen again. We need to respect the rights of women to make their own healthcare decisions.”

—Senate Judiciary Committee Chair and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on attempts to ban abortion nationwide, including Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling that would block FDA approval of mifepristone.

“The only way to restore trust in our nation’s highest court is to expose the corruption that’s been at its heart for too long and enact meaningful reforms to prevent it from ever happening again. … Whether it’s taking millions of dollars’ worth of luxury vacations on a billionaire donor’s dime or leaking opinions to anti-choice activists, it’s clear this Court cannot be fair and impartial. With a case threatening to block FDA approval of a safe and effective medication used for abortion care and miscarriage management on track to move to the Supreme Court, we need action now more than ever.”

—NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju endorsed Senate Democrats’ decision to host hearings in response to unethical behavior by the Supreme Court.

“Americans expect and deserve a fair and impartial Supreme Court and we need transparency in order to identify potential conflicts and to restore public trust in our nation’s highest court. … The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly proven itself incapable of policing itself without a code of ethics. It is time for Congress to hold hearings and pass legislation to establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court Justices to hold them to the same standards as every other federal judge in the nation. Ensuring transparency, impartiality, and accountability for Supreme Court Justices is not and should not be a partisan issue.”

—Common Cause co-president Marilyn Carpinteyro called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to include Justice Clarence Thomas as a witness in its investigation of Supreme Court ethics, and asked that the House also launch its own hearings.


+ Andrew Lester, an 84-year-old resident of Kansas City, Mo. shot 16-year-old Ralph Yarl on Thursday, April 13, after the high school junior mistakenly approached Lester’s house to pick up his younger siblings. Yarl is home from the hospital and recovering after being shot in the head and arm.

Four days after the shooting, Lester was charged with two felonies, but Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson has refused to admit the shooting involved racial motivations.

+ On Tuesday, April 11, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed off on legislation that prohibits transgender athletes from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Despite several statement from the Biden administration opposing bans on transgender athletes competing in school sports, a new executive proposal would permit such bans if they are “ensuring fairness in competition or preventing sports-related injury.” However, the rule would prevent “categorical bans” that restrict students from sports simply for being trans, especially in less competitive settings like elementary school. It has garnered criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

+ A separate proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services would prevent criminal investigations of pregnant people who seek abortions out of state, as well as clinicians and insurers who provide the service to such patients, under HIPAA.

+ An executive order by President Biden expands environmental justice initiatives to all federal agencies, as well as establishing a new Office of Environmental Justice.

“Every federal agency must take into account environmental health impacts on communities and work to prevent those negative impacts. Environmental justice will be the mission of the entire government woven directly into how we work with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments,” Biden said at a ceremony one day prior to Earth Day.

+ The White House also announced a series of executive actions on Tuesday, April 18, which are dedicated to supporting caregivers and care workers. The actions will expand child care and long-term care availability and raise wages for early childhood educators, among several other orders.

“If you look at something like ensuring a greater share of Medicaid spending actually reaches home care workers who are doing the work, that’s not about new dollars, it’s about aligning incentives,” a senior White House official said, with their colleagues calling this the most “comprehensive set of executive actions any president has ever taken to improve care.”

+ A new exhibition by the National Women’s History Museum in D.C.—”We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC”—opened in March at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library to honor the legacy and work of Black feminists throughout history, such as civil rights leader Ella Baker. Following the reveal of its first in-person exhibit, the NWHM named Frédérique Irwin its new president and CEO on Monday, April 17.

“I am delighted to join the National Women’s History Museum and their incredible staff and Board of Directors at this exciting moment in time,” said Irwin said. “Now is the time to bring more stories of local women’s history, tied to the national narrative, to communities around the country. The recent exhibition opening at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC, is the first of what I believe will be key partnerships with libraries and cultural institutions across the country. My goal is to bring to life the Museum’s vision to inspire women, girls, and all people with past and current stories of women in their own communities who have forged paths before them.”

+ A deal reached between Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles will raise teachers’ wages by 21 percent over three years to an average of $106,000, with room for higher pay amongst those with extra responsibilities. If union members approve the agreement, it could prevent further strikes and walkouts by teachers in the District.

+ Senate president pro tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) set a new record on Thursday, April 20, as the first woman senator in the U.S. to cast 10,000 votes. She also previously made history as the first woman chair of the Veterans Affairs and Budget committees.

+ Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), a transgender woman, was banned from the House floor in a 68-32 vote on Wednesday, April 26 after she hosted a rally at the Capitol on Monday. Republicans had previously disabled her microphone and silenced her by other means due to her remarks that legislators championing bans on gender-affirming care for minors would have “blood on your hands.”

“If you disallow the use of the medical care that is accepted by every major medical association, if you disallow that care and don’t allow people to have access to that, the only therapy left is either, A, meaningless or, B, conversion therapy, which is torture,” Zephyr told Democracy Now. “If you are forcing a trans child to go through puberty when they are trans, that is tantamount to torture. And this body should be ashamed.”

How We’re Doing

+ A study of patients delivering babies in Pennsylvania found that Black patients were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be tested for drugs by hospital systems, despite being less likely to test positive. The study included nearly 38,000 patient records between March 2018 and June 2021. Even among patients who reported substance use within the past year, Black patients were eight percent more likely to be tested, but 8.7 percent less likely to test positive.

“Any given clinician may not be thinking about bias, but when you look at these kinds of data, you can see there is no other explanation,” University of Pittsburgh associate professor and report author Marian Jarlenski said.

+ Pew Research Center reported that among heterosexual marriages, the number of egalitarian relationships and relationships where women make the majority of income has increased. Between 1972 and 2022, egalitarian marriages increased by 18 percent, and there are 11 percent more marriages with women breadwinners.

However, even amongst egalitarian marriages, men spend more hours on paid work and leisure, while women take on the majority of housework and caregiving.

+ Only six women directors made the lineup to compete for the 75th Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, out of 19 films. This year trumps last year’s record of five women directors, but is still far from gender parity.

Some of the selected films include “La Chimera,” directed by Alice Rohrwacher, and “Club Zero” by Jessica Hausner.

+ In the six months following the Dobbs decision last June, which overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for abortion bans across the nation, the U.S. averaged more than 5,000 fewer abortions per month. From July to December, the #WeCount Report estimated 32,260 fewer abortions than would be expected pre-Dobbs.

+ A new poll—one conducted by Fox News—found that 85 percent of respondents think “families with transgender children being targets of political attacks” is a problem, and well over half (57 percent) think it is a major problem.

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_.