War on Women: Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Ban; Trump-Appointed Judge Rejects Tennessee Drag Ban; Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action

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…

+ Iowa’s six-week abortion ban remains enforceable after the state supreme court reached a 3-3 split decision, resulting in the ban not being reinstated. Lawmakers and activists are contemplating what their next steps are, with both Republicans and Democrats pledging that the battle is far from over.

+ Healthcare providers in Pennsylvania want to expand access to who can provide abortion services. Current state law restricts the provision of abortion exclusively to physicians. By allowing a broader range of healthcare professionals—such as nurse practitioners physician assistants and certified nurse midwives—to perform abortions and administer medication, Pennsylvania would be able to offer treatment to a greater number of individuals nationwide. This sought-after revision has gained increasing importance, particularly in light of the Dobbs decision, as states continue to impose stricter abortion regulations.

+ LGBTQIA+ online hate and harassment has reached a record high, with 47 percent of LGBTQIA+ people having experienced some form of hate online. Notably, over 75 percent of transgender Americans have experienced some form of hate online, and over 50 percent have in the last 12 months.

Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way in the last month.

Friday, June 2

+ Disguised as a bill intended to protect minors, Tennessee’s SB 0003 sought to punish drag communities statewide by criminalizing “adult cabaret performances” on public property and in locations where minors could view them. The bill never uses the word “drag” specifically, but instead includes “male or female impersonators” as a form of adult cabaret. The bill was signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on March 2, 2023, and it was set to take place on April 1, 2023.

That is, until Thomas Parker, a Trump-appointed federal judge, ruled the bill was “unconstitutionally vague” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.” Parker temporarily blocked the law, and although the decision can be appealed, no action has been taken since the ruling.

Angeria Paris VanMicheals performs onstage for RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Tour at Ryman Auditorium on Aud. 9, 2022 in Nashville. (Danielle Del Valle / Getty Images)

Wednesday, June 7

+ Since Roe’s reversal, more women than ever are traveling out of state for abortion access, according to the National Abortion Federation (NAF). From July 2022-May 2023, NAF documented:

  • a 235 percent increase in travel arrangements from the previous year.
  • a 195 percent increase in lodging bookings from the previous year.
  • a 403 percent increase in rideshares from the previous year.

These statistics showcase the Dobbs decision’s ravaging effects as abortion protections plummet nationwide. “This is no surprise, as abortion bans don’t reduce the need for abortion care—they just make it harder to access,” said NAF’s COO Veronica Jones.

Thursday, June 8

+ The Supreme Court issued a major voting rights decision: A majority of the court voted to uphold Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or color. This ruling comes after pressure from voters and civil rights groups who challenged the state’s plan to pack Black voters into a single district, ultimately weakening their collective voting power.

Civil rights groups like The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights praised the decision, calling the ruling “an important step towards ensuring our communities have the power to elect the leaders of their choice,” though the group also emphasized more work to be done in the movement towards voter equality.

+ The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls (CBWG) released a framework for centering Black women in governmental policy-making. Their 133-page legislative agenda argues the solution to systemic inequality is an extended comprehensive framework that centers Black women and girls in U.S. policy. “If our government brings Black women from the margins to the center and intentionally creates policies that pull Black women out of economic precarity and into economic prosperity, everyone will benefit,” the CBWG said in a statement.

“Black women have persevered through unimaginable oppression, historical mistreatment and shameful exclusion,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.). “This is our time to finally and fairly benefit from the fruits of our ancestors’ forced labor.”

Tuesday, June 13

+ A record-high number of Americans—69 percent—think first-trimester abortions should be legal, according to a Gallup poll. After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft was leaked, the number was 67 percent, a new record at the time.

  • 86 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans believe that abortion should be legal within the first three weeks of pregnancy.
  • 71 percent of women and 66 percent of men believe that abortion should be legal within the first three weeks of pregnancy.
A pro-abortion activist in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic in New York, on July 1, 2023. The historic U.S. Supreme Court about-face on abortion on June 24, 2022, has created a nightmare for women seeking the procedure. The closure of abortion clinics in about a dozen states has forced tens of thousands of women to travel elsewhere to terminate a pregnancy. (Kena Betancur / AFP via Getty Images)

+ With more than just the legality of abortion under scrutiny, Americans care more now than ever before about candidates’ positions on abortion. Americans are now more likely than ever to only support candidates that share their abortion views, with a record-high of 28 percent. Abortion issues are likely to motivate voters in the 2024 elections, just as they did in the 2022 midterms.

Wednesday, June 14

+ U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Right to Contraception Act, which seeks to protect the right to legally access birth control. Murray, joined by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), called upon the Supreme Court to consider the importance of protecting Americans’ access to contraception on a federal level.

“Millions of people use contraception and have been for decades, and the vast majority of Americans support the right to birth control,” said Murray. “My message to Republicans who claim to support the right to just get birth control: Now is your chance to prove it. Stand with us—not in our way.”

The Right to Contraception Act seeks to protect legal access to contraception by:

  • Instituting a statutory right for Americans to legally obtain contraceptives. 
  • Creating a corresponding right for health care providers to provide their patients with access to contraceptives.
  • Allowing providers and individuals harmed by the restrictions on contraceptive access to go to court to enforce their legal rights to contraception; and
  • Protecting a range of contraceptive methods, devices and medications used to prevent pregnancy.

Thursday, June 15

+ In the wake of the Dobbs decision, many medical schools across the country have completely banned abortion training. That’s why Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), introduced a new bill that could help ob-gyns gain access to abortion training.

The Reproductive Health Care Training Act seeks to establish a grant program of $25 million a year, for the next five years, to fund medical students who need to leave their home states in order to receive access to the abortion training.

Wednesday, June 21

+ U.S. District Judge James Moody permanently blocked an Arkansas law that sought to prohibit “gender transition procedures for minors,” as well as bar physicians from performing gender-affirming procedures to minors. The law, known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation law, was first introduced and implemented in 2021 as the country’s first law attempting to ban gender-affirming care for minors.

After hearing arguments presented by the ACLU, Moody ruled the law violated the First and 14th Amendments, and was therefore unconstitutional. This law is one among over 490 current pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the country, all of which pose a threat to LGBTQ+ people nationwide.

Friday, June 23

+ President Biden issued an executive order to strengthen access to affordable, high-quality contraception and family planning services. It’s the third in a series of EOs focused exclusively on expanding access to reproductive rights and healthcare, following the Dobbs decision..

In addition to improving the access to, and affordability of, contraceptives, the EO also seeks to:

  • promote increased access to over-the-counter contraception.
  • support family planning services and supplies through the medicaid program.
  • improve the coverage of contraception through the medicare program.
  • bolster contraception access across federally-supported health care programs.
  • support access to affordable contraception for employees and college students.
  • promote research and data analysis on contraception access.
  • clarify protections for women with private health insurance.
  • expand access under the Affordable Care Act.
  • support Title X clinics.
  • enhance access through a new public-private partnership.
  • ensure access to family planning services at health centers.
  • include family planning providers in health plan networks.

Thursday, June 29

+ The Supreme Court has ruled that colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration as a basis for granting admission. In the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the six conservative justices argue that the 14th Amendment must be interpreted in a colorblind fashion that renders race as an irrelevant factor in admissions decisions. Some believe that this ruling may lead to a concerning drop in the number of Black students enrolled in top colleges and universities.

Ishika Vyas, 18, a student at Harvard University, at a rally in support of keeping affirmative action on Oct. 31, 2022. (Getty Images)

In a biting dissent, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the only Black woman on the Court, argue the ruling “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.”

Moreover, Justice Jackson explains that it is detached from the U.S.’s actual past and present experiences with inequality.  Today, large economic, educational, and health-related race-based gaps remain. Justice Jackson correctly reminds us that although these disparities were “created in the distant past … they have indisputably passed down to the present day through the generations.”

Friday, June 30

+ Indiana’s highest court cleared the way for a state ban on most abortions.

“Now, patients will be forced either to flee the state to access abortion if they have the means, seek abortion outside of the health care system, or carry pregnancies against their will with profound medical risk and life-altering consequences,” the plaintiffs said.

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.

About and

Jules Hanisee is an editorial intern for Ms., originally from Albuquerque, N.M., and based in New Orleans, LA. They are a junior at Tulane University studying international relations, French, and English. Their interests include voting rights and elections, LGBTQ+ relations and intersectional public policy.
Alecia Hodges is an editorial intern for Ms.; she is a current law student whose writings focus on the theoretical and juridical aspects of both anti-Blackness and misogyny in public policy, as well as political and popular culture.