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…
+ Some Ohio schools have decided to arm teachers and staff with guns. In total, 46 districts have given teachers the option to carry a firearm. If staff members elect to be armed on campus, they must receive at least 24 hours of initial training and eight hours of training every year after that. Last year, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 99 into law, which reduced these required training hours drastically from what was required before: 700 initial hours.
+ Since June, 135 people have died in Texas prisons. The state is experiencing a record-breaking heat wave, leading to dangerously high temperatures inside the facilities. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said none of deaths are related to the heat of the facilities, despite evidence of heat exhaustion among prisoners: Over a dozen of the deaths were among prisoners under 40, and most died of heart-related issues. Over 65 percent of Texas prisons do not have air conditioning in most areas, despite the state being among the top five hottest in the U.S.
“We can see how deaths spike during the summer months,” said Michele Deitch, director of the Prison and Jail Innovation Lab at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs. “TDCJ may not have proof that these were heat-related deaths, but on its face, it doesn’t make sense to say that they are not related.”
Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way in the last month.
Tuesday, Aug. 1
+ The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a prior ruling requiring two Indiana school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choosing. The court cited Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in its ruling, which protects people from sex-based discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.
“Students who are denied access to the appropriate facilities are caused both serious emotional and physical harm as they are denied recognition of who they are. They will often avoid using the restroom altogether while in school,” said Kenneth Falk, an attorney for the ACLU of Indiana, and counsel on the original 2021 lawsuit. “Schools should be a safe place for kids and the refusal to allow a student to use the correct facilities can be extremely damaging.”
Thursday, Aug. 3
+ Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology classes are “effectively banned” in Florida due to content related to sexual and gender identity. Florida’s Department of State told College Board that content on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under state law—namely, Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, officially named the Parental Rights in Education Act.
If LGBTQ+ topics are removed from course content, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said Florida will allow AP Psychology to be taught. However, the College Board will not modify AP Psychology to meet Florida’s requests. Until the educational boards come to an agreement, any course that censors AP Psychology content cannot be labeled as ‘AP Psychology’ on transcripts.
Friday, Aug. 4
+ A new $50 million campaign backed by some of the nation’s largest labor unions seeks to prioritize childcare and senior care legislation. At the end of 2021, pressure from Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin forced it out of the Biden administration’s legislative agenda. The campaign, dubbed “Care Can’t Wait,” aims to provide universal childcare, along with paid leave for families.
“Through Care Can’t Wait Action, we can educate and mobilize our communities, sending a powerful message that care is on the ballot in 2024, ensuring that providers and the families who depend on them have the support they need every day,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.
Monday, Aug. 7
+ An 8-month pregnant woman, Porcha Woodruff, was arrested and put in jail after a false facial recognition match—the first woman known to be wrongfully accused as a result of facial technology. Police arrived at Woodruff’s door over an alleged carjacking, a crime she continues to have no knowledge of. Woodruff was handcuffed in front of her daughters at her Detroit home. She was held for 11 hours in a jail cell. Her cell phone was taken from her.
“I was having contractions in the holding cell. My back was sending me sharp pains. I was having spasms. I think I was probably having a panic attack,” said Ms. Woodruff, a licensed aesthetician and nursing school student. “I was hurting, sitting on those concrete benches.”
Upon release, Woodruff went straight to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with dehydration.
Tuesday, Aug. 8
+ Midwives and doctors in Alabama have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s de facto ban on birthing centers. Prior to the suit, Alabama’s board of mental directors asserted that all such centers should require a “hospital” license in order to perform birthing procedures.
“The Alabama Department of Public Health has no place regulating birth centers,” said JaTaune Bosby, director of Alabama’s ACLU, “but even if it did, its contradictory stance—demanding hospital licenses for birth centers while obstructing the path to obtain them—is both unlawful and unconstitutional.”
+ A new FDA-approved blood test to detect preeclampsia could help reduce Black maternal deaths. One in four pregnant women develop preeclampsia, but Black women are disproportionately more at risk.
Thursday, Aug. 10
+ A venture capitalist firm called Fearless Fund, which provides funding to Black-women-owned businesses, is being sued by the American Alliance for Equal Rights for “racial discrimination.” Edward Blum, the founder of the American Alliance for Equal Rights, initiated the anti-affirmative action Supreme Court case earlier this year through the Students for Fair Admissions case.
Despite women only receiving 2.3 percent of venture capital and Black women receiving less than 0.35 percent, the American Alliance for Equal Rights claims that Fearless Fund violates Section 1981 of the 14th Amendment. Specifically, because Fearless Fund’s grant contest is only open to Black women, it is racially exclusive and violates Section 1981’s prohibition of race discrimination in the making and enforcing of contracts.
Monday, Aug. 14
+ The New Jersey supreme court ruled in favor of a Catholic school that fired an unmarried pregnant teacher on religious grounds. According to the court, religious employers “can enforce codes of conduct in line with their faith.” The U.S. is currently in a time where religious organizations are trying to push the boundaries of what it means for them to be exempt from laws that apply to all the rest of us, according to Columbia Law School professor, Katherine Franke.
Friday, Aug. 18
+ X (formerly known as Twitter) will end use of the blocking feature. Blocking is used by many public writers, journalists and media personalities in order to protect their privacy and safety—especially women, LGBTQ people and minorities, who experience much higher levels of online harassment.
“It’s really problematic to see a major policy change being made in real-time without due assessment, or consultation, especially given all of the work on online harassment that has been done over the years,” said Courtney Radsch, a fellow at UCLA’s Institute for Technology, Law and Policy.
Monday, Aug. 21
+ An Indiana total abortion ban has taken effect after the state supreme court denied a rehearing of the original case—over a year after Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed the law at the end of a special legislative session.
ACLU of Indiana’s executive director, Jane Henegar, called it “a dark day” in Indiana’s history. “We have seen the horrifying impact of bans like this across the country, and the narrow exceptions included in this extreme ban will undoubtedly put Hoosiers’ lives at risk. Every person should have the fundamental freedom to control their own body and politicians’ personal opinions should play no part in this personal decision.”
Tuesday, Aug. 22
+ Alabama has defied the Voting Rights Act and The Supreme Court by refusing to comply with a mandated gerrymandering decision. Edmund LaCour, the representative of the state’s litigations over mapping, is also “moonlighting” as the architect of the state’s gerrymandering maps. Republicans seem to be set on ensuring that the Constitution functions as “color-blind,” disregarding race and other identity factors that could affect the rule of law.
Wednesday, Aug. 23
+ Natalie Hudson has been named the first Black chief justice of the Minnesota supreme court. Hudson, who began her legal career in 1982 as an attorney, worked in general civil litigation before serving as the dean of Mitchell Hamline’s School of Law in St. Paul. In a statement released after her win, Hudson said the role is a “tremendous responsibility that I approach with humility and resolve, seeking to continue the work of my predecessors in administering one of the best state court systems in the nation, and always seeking to deliver the most accessible, highest-quality court services for the citizens of Minnesota.”
Thursday, Aug. 24
+ Donald Trump surrendered for a fourth time this year. The arrest came following a probe by Fani Willis, Fulton County’s district attorney, over the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. A Jan. 2, 2021, recording was released where Trump suggested that Gov. Brad Raffensperger (R) should “find 11,780 votes,” the exact amount needed to defeat President Joe Biden.
Tuesday, Aug. 29
+ A federal jury convicted five anti-abortion defendants of federal civil rights offenses in connection with a reproductive healthcare clinic invasion and blockade in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22, 2020. According to the Department of Justice, defendants were each convicted of a felony conspiracy against rights and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act offense. Each defendant faces a potential penalty of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000.
Two patients at the clinic gave harrowing testimony in court describing their experiences. Shandy Holler (a pseudonym) and her husband traveled from Ohio to receive an abortion in D.C. Tragically, Holler’s pregnancy had been diagnosed with a fatal fetal anomaly. She was in severe pain when she arrived at the clinic the morning of the blockade. Security footage shows Holler’s husband begging the defendants to let her through to be treated, and Holler collapsed on the ground. One of the defendants had told the couple that the clinic was not performing abortions that day and that Holler should go to an emergency room—denying her access to critical medical care.
A second patient, Ashley Jones (also a pseudonym), recounted being immediately confronted by the defendants in the building lobby and followed down the hallway and inside the elevator. They grabbed and yelled at her as she attempted to enter the clinic. She can be seen in the security footage crying, “Why are you doing this to me?” Desperate, Jones was forced to climb onto a counter and dive through the receptionist’s window to get away from the defendants and access medical care.
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.