Keeping Score: Fighting Florida’s Book Bans; Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom Gather Signatures for November Ballot Measure; HIV Infections Down 12%

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

“Books have the capacity to change lives for the better, and students in particular deserve equitable access to a wide range of perspectives. Censorship, in the form of book bans like those enacted by Escambia County, are a direct threat to democracy and our constitutional rights.”

—Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya said after the publisher filed a lawsuit alongside nonprofit PEN America. The lawsuit challenges the book ban instituted by the Escambia County School Board in Florida.

“Children in a democracy must not be taught that books are dangerous. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the constitution. In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand.”

—PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel in a joint statement.

Participants attend a Martin Luther King Day parade on Jan. 19, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“Let me be clear: Failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”

—NAACP president & CEO Derrick Johnson on the organization’s formal travel advisory for the state of Florida due to its governor’s hostility towards communities of color and LGBTQ+ residents.

“It really breaks my heart that there are young people growing up in a world that doesn’t protect them.”


“We have been in constant conversations with CVS and Walgreens to make sure the stock of the drug continues to be available. … We put the rights to an abortion into statute, which I signed. This could come down to one of those moments where you’ve got no choice but to stand up and go down with the ship.”

—New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) pledging to protect residents’ access to abortion pill mifepristone at all costs.

“This victory for abortion coverage comes at a critical moment in our fight for abortion justice. As anti-abortion lawmakers in some states ban abortion and push care out of reach, Rhode Island has taken an important step to ensure no one is denied abortion just because they’re working to make ends meet. This new law signals that our bold movement, led by women of color, to end abortion coverage bans continues to push forward in the face of the ongoing crisis.”

—All* Above All president Morgan Hopkins on the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, signed by Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee (D), which will guarantee abortion coverage for state employees and those enrolled in Medicaid.

“There’s been this obsession that ‘She’s not nice’ and ‘She rubs people the wrong way.’ Well, we got a lot of shit done. … I came into government with a mandate of 75 percent of votes to break up the status quo and to make sure that I was doing things and putting ordinary residents of our city front and center. With that mandate, you’re going to disrupt the status quo. You’re going to make some people angry.”

—Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot (D) after losing her mayoral election bid for a second term. After tackling police reform and criminal justice over the past four years, she said she is grateful that tough-on-crime candidate Paul Vallas, a moderate Democrat, lost in the run-off.


+ Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed an executive order on Tuesday, June 6, declaring the state a sanctuary state for transgender people fleeing other states—”the 12th state to enact policies that refuse compliance with out of state laws that target transgender people,” according to reporter Erin Reed.

Map of safe state laws. (Erin Reed)

+ Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects workers from employer retaliation if they had an abortion to “save the life of the mother,” but new legislation signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) expands that protection to all abortion procedures in the state, as of next year.

“No one in Michigan should face discrimination because they exercised their constitutional rights, including their right to reproductive freedom by having an abortion,” Whitmer said in a statement after signing the bill on Wednesday, May 17.

+ Wesleyan University in Connecticut pledged to cover abortions and emergency contraception for students after a petition by Wesleyan Democratic Socialists garnered over 700 signatures. Coverage for medical costs, transportation and pain relief as well as Plan B and Ella will begin in fall 2023.

“It’s incredibly meaningful that the university is supporting its students in this way, especially in a national climate where abortion is so under threat. … For the university to say, not only that all students have a right to access abortion — but that all students have a right to access affordable abortion,” Wesleyan Democratic Socialists member Anna Tjeltveit said.

+ Grammy winner and rock and roll star Tina Turner died at age 83 on Wednesday, May 24, in her home near Zurich. Some of her most popular songs included “Proud Mary,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and her albums accrued 180 million sales.

“Each electrifying swing of her miniskirt, every slide of her 3-inch Manolos across the stage, sends a message: I am here. I have triumphed. I will not be broken,” Oprah Winfrey said of one of Turner’s performances.

“Her impact on the American cultural landscape—and her status as a feminist trailblazer—is undeniable,” wrote Diana Adesola Mafe in Ms. “Hers was a different kind of march, a strut really, into places previously barred to women and people of color.”

Tina Turner performs in Birmingham, Ala., in 2009. (Philip Spittle / Wikimedia Commons)

+ Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina died at age 74 on Sunday, May 14, three years after her cancer diagnosis. Throughout her 32 years in politics, she made history as California’s first Latina Assembly member, and the first Latina on the Los Angeles City Council and L.A. County of Board of Supervisors.

“Even though she was part of the system, she never gave up on the fact that you should never take its word for granted,” Fernando Guerra, director for Loyola Marymount’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, said of Molina’s identity as a Mexican American woman from the Eastside of Los Angeles.

+ Almost a year after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs overturned abortion rights secured through Roe v. Wade, Physicians for Reproductive Health hosted ‘Voices of Courage 2023: Care is Not a Crime.’ The event showcased “some of the most courageous abortion providers who show up every day to care for their communities while facing escalating political attacks, harassment, and criminalization.” A livestream of the full event on Tuesday, May 23 is available here.

+ On the same day as Voices of Courage, the South Carolina legislature voted 27–19 to restrict abortions after six weeks, with narrow exceptions for rape and incest, fatal fetal conditions, and the life of the pregnant person. Doctors who performs abortions outside these regulations face consequences including lawsuits, losing their medical license, fines and jail.

+ In Ohio, an abortion rights initiative eyed for the November ballot can proceed as written, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled. An anti-abortion lawsuit sought to slow down a proposed abortion amendment in Ohio which handled the issues of abortion, miscarriage care and contraception access collectively. The state’s Supreme Court defended the amendment, with Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy writing that “a proposed amendment is not limited to a single subject, object, or purpose.”

+ On Wednesday, May 31, the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked two proposed citizen-enforced abortion bans, similar to S.B. 8 in Texas. The vigilante bans were passed in 2022, before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling paved the way for abortion bans nationwide. In April, just one month before the bans were blocked, a study found that 65 percent of participating hospitals in Oklahoma could not adequately inform patients on the process of receiving medically necessary abortion care.

“Oklahoma lawmakers have passed four abortion bans in the last two years with extremely narrow exceptions. Their lack of concern and empathy for pregnant Oklahomans is frightening,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said.

How We’re Doing

+ A survey by Myovant Sciences and Evidation revealed the stigma and daily challenges associated with endometriosis and uterine fibroids, which affect about 19 million and 7.5 million Americans, respectively. Among the 1,700 survey participants, 31 percent with endometriosis and 18 percent with uterine fibroids “considered quitting work or school because of menstrual symptoms.”

Thirty-four percent of respondents missed work at least once every three menstrual cycles. Of those who have missed work, 41 percent missed nine or more hours. Outside of the workplace, more than one-in-five respondents (21 percent) struggle with daily tasks during every menstrual period.

“Agonizing menstrual pain and heavy bleeding are not normal, and suffering at work should not be the expectation,” Sateria Venable, founder and CEO of The Fibroid Foundation, said in the survey report. “We encourage employers to look into what’s missing in the implementation of menstrual-friendly systems within the workplace, normalize the conversation around the conditions, and create policies to improve work-life balance for an easier management of menstrual health.”

+ Dartmouth anthropologist Zaneta Thayer conducted a study regarding women’s fear of childbirth, called tokophobia, during the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In an online survey of pregnant American women, 62 percent said they were highly fearful about giving birth.

Much of this concern stemmed from hospital regulations on visitors during the pandemic, which kept some pregnant people from having their support person present during labor. Black mothers were at double the risk of tokophobia, and face a maternal mortality rate almost triple that of white women.

“Black women are more likely to have complications or die in childbirth,” one pregnant respondent said. “Who’s going to speak up for me?”

+ HIV infections in the U.S. decreased by 12 percent between 2017 and 2021, according to CDC estimates, with a 34 percent decrease among young queer men ages 13 to 24. Cases were disproportionately high in Black and Hispanic populations, who are under-prescribed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). However, experts predict that of the estimated 1.2 million Americans with HIV, one-in-eight don’t know they have it.

“Our nation’s HIV prevention efforts continue to move in the right direction,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Longstanding factors, such as systemic inequities, social and economic marginalization and residential segregation, however, stand between highly effective HIV treatment and prevention and people who could benefit from them. Efforts must be accelerated and strengthened for progress to reach all groups faster and equitably.”

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_.