Keeping Score: FDA Approves Postpartum Depression Pill and Preeclampsia Test; Pressure Grows on Clarence Thomas to Resign; Henrietta Lacks’ Overdue Compensation

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

“Unprecedented. Stunning. Disgusting. The height of hypocrisy to wear the robes of a #SCOTUS and take undisclosed gifts from billionaires who benefit from your decisions. 38 free vacations. Yachts. Luxury mansions. Skyboxes at events. Resign.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Justice Clarence Thomas’ ties to billionaires.
Analilia Mejia, co-executive director of Center for Popular Democracy, outside the U.S. Capitol calls for immediate resignation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on April 19, 2023. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

“No American is above the law—not even former presidents. The charges that a federal grand jury leveled today against former President Donald Trump are profoundly serious and must go to trial. The charges themselves are unprecedented, but so are the events that led to them.

“The nonpartisan January 6 Select Committee revealed the months-long conspiracy to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and its culmination in the deadly insurrection. Anyone and everyone who broke the laws of this nation participating in that conspiracy must be held accountable.”

—Marilyn Carpinteyro, interim co-president of Common Cause, on the indictment of former President Donald Trump for felony charges related to the 2020 election.

“[Nurses] have a unique perspective that works in collaboration with the physicians’ message but helps to emphasize how much this is going to impact people and how we know that from seeing it firsthand and doing this work.

“Whether that work is early pregnancy counseling, abortion care, working in clinics that provide contraception and maternity care, it’s often a nurse you’re talking to first. They’re the ones that are triaging, getting a story and trying to help coordinate the care. I think there’s a lot that we can share to really express how important this type of healthcare is.”

—Maternity care nurse Maria Ellis on the formation of NC Nurses for Reproductive Rights, a group which hopes to highlight nurses’ perspectives on abortion and reproductive health policy.

“America’s traumatic history of wealth hoarding is directly connected to its history of colonization. The mantra of colonization has been to divide, control and above all, exploit. What we are witnessing at this very moment in the entertainment industry is a clear example of the colonizer virus at play.

“While studios and Hollywood executives continue to stand firm on not budging around fair wages, just recently, Netflix posted an AI Product Manager job opening offering as much as $900,000 in total compensation for the position. This is particularly alarming as both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA have expressed significant concerns about the use of AI and the likely negative financial implications for their members.

“We see similar challenges happening across other industries that prioritize profits over people and the planet—like the barely avoided UPS strikes—where greed has encroached on our society in atrocious ways that continue to disregard humanity. This fight isn’t just about money, it’s about maintaining power through the hoarding of resources. Unfortunately, these colonial behaviors will not change until we heal from the virus and move towards an Indigenous worldview of reciprocity, grounded in mutual healing. … With education and healing, shifting power is possible. And sometimes, power is not ceded, it must be demanded.”

—Edgar Villanueva, Indigenous author and CEO of the Decolonizing Wealth Project, on Hollywood’s SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

As a first-generation immigrant, I’ve seen firsthand how critical it is to ensure our communities can access the healthcare they need. We have long faced discriminatory policies and rhetoric that threaten our well-being and contribute to health disparities.

The bottom line is that ensuring that immigrants can live with agency and dignity is deeply tied to reproductive freedom. We’re grateful to our champions in Congress and our partners at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum for fighting for healthcare access for immigrant communities.

—NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju in a statement on the reintroduction of the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Families Act, by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.). The legislation would expand healthcare access for immigrant families, including reproductive care.


+ The descendants of Henrietta Lacks, whose cervical tissue was harvested without her consent in 1951, reached a settlement with Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. Lacks’ family sough compensation after her cancer cells were used to advance several medical discoveries, allowing a biotechnology company to profit off of her replicated tumor cells for decades without repercussions.

“The exploitation of Henrietta Lacks represents the unfortunately common struggle experienced by Black people throughout history,” her family wrote. “Too often, the history of medical experimentation in the United States has been the history of medical racism.”

Veronica Spencer, great-granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells are some of the most important in medical research, poses at her home with a portrait of her great grandmother March 28, 2017, in Baltimore, Md. (Katherine Frey / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

+ The Labor Department launched a national “Power to Pump” campaign on Tuesday, Aug. 1, during World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. The campaign aims to spread awareness of the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, which protects breastfeeding employees from workplace discrimination.

+ Rioters who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021 are facing especially harsh prison sentences by the federal judge on the case. A Barack Obama nominee, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has sentenced dozens of rioters, some to more than five years in prison.

“It has to be made clear that trying to violently overthrow the government, trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers in that effort is going to be met with absolutely certain punishment,” she said of her sentences, which were often longer than recommended by prosecutors.

+ The new “Care Can’t Wait” campaign—championed by unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—will allocate $50 million to promoting universal childcare and paid leave as legislative priorities under the Biden administration. Its focus is on child and senior care policy from Biden’s “Build Back Better” program that was put on the back burner by conservative legislators.

“Care work makes all other work possible, helping children learn and grow, protecting the injured, ill and aging, and keeping our neighborhoods safe,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said. “Unfortunately, care work remains largely invisible: unprotected by labor laws, and all too often, informal and unrecognized for just how important it is — and just how important care workers are to the fabric of our society and the functioning of our economy.”

+ On Thursday, Aug. 3, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) announced the end of a contract between the state and Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion group that finances crisis pregnancy centers. The state’s 2023-2024 budget previously designated $8.2 million to the group, a $2 million increase from last year.

“For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives. My administration will not continue that pattern—we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive healthcare they deserve,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Pennsylvanians made clear by electing me as Governor that they support a woman’s freedom to choose, and I will be steadfast in defending that right.”

A press conference called by a crisis pregnancy center—the SCV Pregnancy Center in Santa Clarita, Calif.—on May 24, 2023. Across the U.S., more than 2,500 crisis pregnancy centers operate, outnumbering abortion clinics 3 to 1. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

+ In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed the Save Women’s Sports Act on Monday, Aug. 7, to ban transgender women from competing in women’s collegiate sports “to maintain competitive fairness.” The law will affect athletes at public colleges and universities in the state.

Abbott “needs to realize trans people are people, trans Texans are Texans, and his legislation is supposed to protect Texans. But he’s not protecting trans people, he’s hurting trans people,” said one protester, a student named Eliot.

+ The FDA recently approved two medical advances in maternity care:

+ Following a lawsuit by Texas residents whose lives were endangered by the state’s abortion ban, a judge temporarily blocked the ban for those experiencing health emergencies or diagnosed with fatal fetal conditions. The six-week ban did include an exception for medical emergencies, but did not define the term.

“After much confusion around what conditions qualify as ‘medical emergencies’ under Texas’ abortion bans, today’s ruling gives clarity to doctors as to when they can provide abortions and allows them to use their own medical judgment. The Judge recognized that the women in the case should have been given abortions,” the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

+ The New Jersey supreme court ruled on Monday, Aug. 14, that employers have the right to discriminate based on marital status and pregnancy due to their religious affiliation. Teacher Victoria Crisitello took St. Theresa School in Kenilworth, N.J., to court after she was fired in 2014 for becoming pregnant while unmarried, a breach of the school’s code of ethics. The court ruled unanimously in favor of the Catholic school, citing the “religious tenets exception.”

How We’re Doing

+ The Paycheck Protection Program was successful in increasing staffing hours in nursing homes during the pandemic, a recent study found. Under the PPP, nursing homes needed to allocate 60 to 75 percent of their loan towards staffing in order to maintain eligibility for loan forgiveness.

+ Twenty percent more breast cancers were detected from a mammogram when AI supported a radiologist’s analysis, a Swedish study of artificial intelligence found. The doctors’ time spent reading the mammograms was also reduced by 44 percent.

+ As the climate crisis continues to manifest in extreme heatwaves worldwide, research shows that women are bearing the brunt. The rate of heat-related deaths was higher for women in several countries, including France and India, and these deaths were 56 percent higher in women than men in Europe last summer. Women’s fertility is also impacted by extreme heat, and discomfort can be exacerbated by menopause.

+ A large proportion of women age 45-54 have been affected by menopause-related misdiagnoses, a Harris poll found. Twenty-nine percent were misdiagnosed with a different condition before discovering their symptoms were menopause-related.

Thirty-two percent of women “are worried that their healthcare provider is not knowledgeable about menopause,” while 36 percent “are concerned about being dismissed or mislead about menopause by their healthcare provider.”

+ Women and LGBTQ+ journalists faced more assaults and threats in July 2023 than any other month, according to a report by the Coalition for Women in Journalism. Turkey saw the most attacks, including several instances of police violence against journalists.

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_.