Keeping Score: Alabama Map Violates Voting Rights Act; Coco Gauff Thanks Billie Jean King After Victory in U.S. Open

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

“Since the fall of Roe, women’s rights and fundamental civil liberties to control our own bodies have been under assault by extreme Republican lawmakers in Washington – and in state legislatures across this country. Among those who are most vulnerable to these restrictions are servicewomen and military families, who have no choice over which state they are stationed in.

Service members and veterans answered the call to serve our country, and we have to make sure they have access to the reproductive health care and the gender-affirming care that they need.”

—Sen. Jeanne. Shaheen (D-N.H.) in a statement on reproductive care and gender-affirming care access for military members, veterans and their families. Shaheen, alongside a large coalition of legislators and organizations, participated in a press conference and rally on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

“I am a transgender retired Army combat veteran. We must take note that as we stand here, the day after the anniversary of September 11, transgender people were serving their nation in silence. After the attacks, even though their service was banned, they stepped forward anyway to defend their country. Today, this tradition continues, with transgender people volunteering twice as much as cisgender people to safeguard this nation’s historic principles – even when they don’t extend to them. We must defend those who defend us, and ensure that Congress treats the access to serve and the access to health care equally.”

—SPARTA Director of Advocacy Alleria Stanley championing the inclusion of gender-affirming care in the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Thank you Billie. For fighting for this.”

—U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff, 19, upon accepting the competition’s $3 million prize. King fought for years to secure equal prize money for men and women in the U.S. Open following her win against Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes.”

Coco Gauff at a Wimbledon qualifying match, Roehampton, 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

“The selection was not a deliberate selection. It was kind of intuitive over the years; it just fell together that way. The people had to meet a couple criteria, but it was just kind of my personal interest and love of them. Insofar as the women, just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level.”

—Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner in an interview with The New York Times, in which he is questioned regarding the lack of women artists and artists of color featured in his memoir “The Masters.” Wenner confidently admits that Black musicians are not in his “zeitgeist,” and refers to performers like Joni Mitchell as “not a philosopher of rock ’n’ roll.”

“Florida can’t have it both ways. If the state says the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law doesn’t apply to school libraries when challenged in a lawsuit, it should let school librarians know that the law doesn’t apply.”

—PEN America’s Freedom to Read program director Kasey Meehan in a statement after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody claimed in a legal filing that the state’s ban is restricted to classrooms, without informing schools.

“School librarians need guidelines about recent laws introduced in Florida. … The lack of understanding how Education Code §1001.42 impacts school libraries and collection development poses a significant threat to student’s access to materials in Florida. This alert seeks to clarify the law as educators prepare for a new school year.”

—Christine Emeran, NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program director, said regarding the contradictory guidance.


+ For the second time this year, on Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Supreme Court rejected a congressional map drawn by Alabama legislators. Both maps violated protections against gerrymandering in the Voting Rights Act. They each contained only one majority-Black district, stripping Black residents of congressional representation.

+ Five professors are suing Vassar College on the basis of discrimination against women faculty. Their lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, Aug. 30, details professors’ experiences of unequal pay and underpromotion by the New York college. Vassar’s board of trustees refutes these claims, which the professors’ attorney Melvina Ford said conflicts with the institution’s history and values.

“Vassar isn’t the only educational institution that is suffering from these issues … but what makes this striking is its origins in providing education to women and promoting equity,” Ford, the national legal director at the nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates, said. “This is part of the college’s mission and values, so it’s important that they correct these pay inequities.”

+ Charley, an app tailored to connecting pregnant people with abortion care, officially launched on Tuesday, Sept. 12 in the form of a digital chatbot. Its features include location-based resources on medication abortion, abortion providers, and other informational materials.

+ Journalist Kristen Welker made history on Sunday, Sept. 17 as the 13th moderator of Meet the Press, marking the first time women have moderated or co-moderated every Sunday public affairs show. She is also the first Black person to moderate the show in its 75 years on air.

“Not that long ago, ‘woman journalist’ was almost an oxymoron, especially in broadcast news. When I applied for my first job, at an all-news radio station in Philadelphia in 1967, I was told the newsroom was no place for women,” Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent and chief Washington correspondent for NBC, wrote in an op-ed.

+ Childcare funding passed during the pandemic is set to expire on Saturday, Sept. 30, leaving up to 10 million children stranded without caregivers. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.)and others introduced the Child Care Stabilization Act on Wednesday, Sept. 13 to extend funding for the childcare sector.

“We have a child care crisis in America that we have got to address. If Congress does not act soon, over 3 million kids are in danger of losing their child care slots, over 230,000 child care workers could lose their jobs, and child care facilities all over our country could be forced to close their doors,” Sanders said. “That would be unacceptable. In the richest country in the history of the world, we can and we must make sure that every kid in America has access to high quality, affordable child care.”

+ Olivia Hill was elected to Nashville’s Metro Council in a runoff election on Thursday, Sept. 14, becoming the city’s first openly transgender council member, as well as the first out trans woman to win elected office in Tennessee history. The council will also be majority women, with 22 women council members including all five at-large members.

“For every trans kid in the state of Tennessee that has felt discomfort or that they didn’t belong…” Hill said. “We are valid. We are who we say we are. And we are going to move forward.”

+ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on 16 charges by the Texas Senate, avoiding impeachment by seven votes. Only two Republicans voted to convict.

+ On Wednesday, Sept. 20, New York governor Kathy Hochul (D) signed 10 bills into law through a package geared towards protecting voting rights. The bills implement mail-in voting and same-day registration during the early voting period, establish training standards for poll workers and restricted unnecessary changes to polling locations, among other measures.

+ A series by TIME Magazine features “Latino leaders across industries who are making an impact on Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and everywhere in between,” highlighting athletes, politicians and labor activists such as Dolores Huerta in its first edition.

“The working people, these are the fabric of the country,” Huerta, 93, said, reflecting on her activism for immigrant worker communities in the U.S.. “And if they cannot afford to feed their families, then that reflects on the whole economy.”

Dolores Huerta holds a copy of 50 Years of Ms. after her one-on-one at TribFest in Austin, Texas. (Roxy Szal)

+ California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit on Thursday, Sept. 21 against crisis pregnancy centers, claiming they disseminate misinformation regarding “abortion pill reversal,” an illegitimate medical procedure.

“Those who are struggling with the complex decision to get an abortion deserve support and trustworthy guidance — not lies and misinformation,” Bonta said at a news conference.

A sign outside Problem Pregnancy, a crisis pregnancy center, on Pleasant Street in Worcester, MA. It is located near a Planned Parenthood center. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

How We’re Doing

+ Families in the U.S. face childcare placement waitlists averaging six months, according to a survey by BabyCenter of 2,000 mothers. Forty percent of families are placed on the waitlist, and those that do gain full-time childcare pay $16,686 per year on average. This number is likely to increase as federal funds for childcare are set to expire at the end of the month.

“I do know that if more than 3 million children don’t have childcare, the existing spots that are already so expensive and hard to come by are only going to get more expensive,” said Lauren Smith Brody, founder of The Fifth Trimester Movement, which champions workplace policy to support families. “Scarcity increases the price.” 

+ A Deloitte report titled “Hiding in plain sight: The health care gender toll” revealed a $15 billion annual difference in medical costs between men and women in the U.S.. The pink tax extends beyond medication and hygiene products, affecting the cost of breast cancer screenings, more frequent exams and menopause-related care.

+ According to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 41.8 percent of women of reproductive age in the U.S. are more than a 30-minute drive away from the nearest abortion clinic. Nearly three-in-ten are more than an hour away.

“We deserve the freedom and opportunity to control our own bodies and our life’s path. Restricting abortion access is about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you and who is going to control how your future turns out. These findings demonstrate a loss of that freedom and opportunity,” Heather Shumaker, director of state abortion access at National Women’s Law Center, said.

+ Twenty-nine percent of mothers surveyed in April reported discrimination during pregnancy and labor, according to a CDC report. One in five say they were mistreated in the process. Black mothers suffered the highest maternal mortality rate, while Indigenous women saw the largest increase in death.

“As a doctor, mother, and Black woman, it is disheartening to hear how common mistreatment is and to see differences in mistreatment and discrimination during maternity care based on things like race and insurance coverage,” Division of Reproductive Health director Dr. Wanda Barfield said in the report. “We know that racism and discrimination can lead to delays in treatment and sometimes tragic and preventable deaths. Healthcare provider trainings on unconscious bias and culturally appropriate care may be a first step in understanding how to provide respectful maternity care to all women.”

Midwife Angie Miller listens to the heartbeat of MyLin Stokes Kennedy’s baby with her wife Lindsay and their child Lennox, 21 months, at their Fountain Valley home on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

+ White supremacist and antisemitic content is being pushed on social media networks, according to studies by the Anti-Defamation League and the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). One study created fake online accounts—of both adults and teenagers—and were met with suggested posts related to Holocaust denial and Nazi ideology.

+ In a Gallup poll, nursing homes in the U.S. received an average rating of D+ for quality of care, with about 70 percent of adults “they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable with being admitted to a nursing home if they could no longer care for themselves,” and 61 percent felt the same way about their admitting their relatives.

“Women in general are more concerned about safety, and I think that’s a lifelong concern,” University of Utah nursing professor Linda Edelman said. “That carries on into a setting where they are at their most vulnerable time in their lives and physically frail.”

+ As several states further restricted abortion in the first half of 2023, others picked up the slack, with rates rising in most states where abortion is still legal. These increases were especially drastic in states like Colorado and New Mexico, whose neighbors are passing anti-abortion legislations.

+ A poll by The 19th found sexual harassment to be far less prevalent amongst employees working remotely. Only 8 percent of remote workers under age 35 reported experiencing sexual harassment over the last three years, as compared to 14 percent of in-person workers.

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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_.