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…
+ Planned Parenthood has reopened its locations in Wisconsin after being shut down by the Dobbs ruling last year. A state law passed in 1849 states it is illegal for “any person, other than the mother” to terminate the life of a fetus. This law was previously interpreted as banning abortion—however, Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper overturned this interpretation in a recent ruling, saying it does not apply to consensual abortions.
“There is no such thing as an ‘1849 Abortion Ban’ in Wisconsin,” the judge wrote.
+ Dangerously high temperatures this summer are increasing Americans’ beliefs that they have felt the effects of climate change in their lives, data from last month shows. Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that climate change is at least in part responsible for extreme weather events—10 percentage points higher than the same poll conducted in April of this year. This increase could indicate a crucial turning point in the fight against climate change and bring about collective action.
+ Researchers have developed a new online-only treatment program geared toward Latina mothers struggling with postpartum depression. The program, called Mothers and Babies, has been proven to reductions symptoms of depression and improve parents’ mental health.
Let’s not forget what else was thrown our way last month.
Tuesday, Sept. 5
+ Two abortion clinics in Montana have filed a lawsuit aiming to put a hold on a new law requiring them to be licensed by the state. The legislation, HB 937, dictates that in addition to obtaining a license from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Service, clinics must change their rules of operation, including but not limited to introducing new required equipment, staff qualifications and clinic layouts. Helen Weems, an advanced practice registered nurse who has previously successfully sued the state for ludicrous abortion restrictions, has also joined the lawsuit in support.
“What we’re seeing here is lawmakers trying to single out abortion,” said Aileen Gleizer, a spokesperson for the two independent clinics (Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula and All Families Healthcare in Whitefish). “They haven’t been able to outlaw it, and so they’re trying to come up with kind of fictionalized bureaucratic barriers to make it untenable for clinics to operate.”
Thursday, Sept. 7
+ In the first six months of 2023, the number of abortions performed rose in almost every state where it remains legal, when compared to the same six-month period in 2020. The states that showed the most significant increases—Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico and South Carolina—all border states with abortion bans.
This increase does not mean that state bans have not impacted abortion access. Abortions decreased in states with near-total bans, like Arizona, Indiana and Georgia. Data will continue to shift as abortion bans and restrictions nationwide change.
Sunday, Sept. 17
+ Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has been ousted from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board of directors because of blatantly sexist and racist comments made in an interview with the New York Times. In his newly released book The Masters, he only discusses musicians who are white men, and when asked why, he claimed that no women artists are “articulate enough on this intellectual level.” He then doubled down, saying, “For public relations sake, maybe I should have gone and found one Black and one woman artist to include here that didn’t measure up to that same historical standard.”
Tuesday, Sept. 19
+ U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) made his second attempt to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a law that bars anti-abortion protesters from using force or property damage in their efforts to prevent women and pregnant people from entering clinics. Roy’s legislation is co-sponsored by 25 Republican representatives, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has agreed to lead companion legislation in the Senate.
These legislative moves come on the heels of the arrest of a group of anti-abortion activists, led by Lauren Handy, for illegally blocking access to a Washington abortion clinic, causing the clinic to close for several hours.
Friday, Sept. 22
+ Jessica Burgess, a Nebraska mom, was sentenced to two years in prison after helping her daughter Celeste Burgess acquire abortion pills and end her pregnancy in April 2022. The official charges were for false reporting and removal of skeletal remains. While self-managed abortion is legal in Nebraska, Jessica was charged with false reporting, tampering with human remains and abortion after 20 weeks gestation. Her daughter, Celeste, was tried in July as an adult and charged with 90 days in prison and two years of probation; she was released from prison on Sept. 11. Meanwhile, a man named Tanner Barnhill who helped them with the burial process was put on probation with no jail time—yet another example of lawmakers bending laws to protect men and penalize women.
As Morgan Carmen warned in a piece for Ms., “The story of Celeste and her mother … went national. Most media attention centered on local police’s access to Facebook messages between the two, and for good reason. … But this case also exemplifies a disturbing phenomenon in the genesis of abortion prosecutions: friends and community members reporting on each other.”
Monday, Sept. 25
+ The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood studios reached a provisory agreement on a new three-year contract that would end the 145-day writers’ strike. In the film and TV industry, women, people of color and LGBTQ+ people have historically had the least access to writing jobs. “One of the reasons that the industry has been dominated by white men is they are the ones with the generational wealth and the privilege,” Kyra Jones, a writer, told The 19th.
The proposed contract would raise compensation rates and limit the usage of artificial intelligence in media, which are two of the primary reasons why the strike officially started in May of 2023. Union members will vote to ratify the contract between Oct. 2-9.
“We are really fighting for our lives here,” said WGA member and playwright Tracey Scott Wilson at a recent strike. “We are really fighting for a future because the progress [on diversity], particularly in the last four years, could be completely wiped away.”
Saturday, Sept. 30
+ Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown with mere hours to spare before the midnight deadline. This means that the government will continue to be funded through Nov. 17 with the stopgap budget, and Congress will continue negotiations throughout the year until a finalized budget is passed. Progressive lawmakers celebrated the minor victory. For now, the measure “averts all the massive cuts to domestic programs—WIC; childcare; housing aid; scientific research; etc—the GOP previously proposed,” wrote Jeff Stein of the Washington Post.
Although this temporarily prevents millions of Americans from being furloughed and many government operations from being halted, what is most noticeable about it is what it is missing: Ukrainian aid. This budget, which provides no further aid to Ukraine, passed just one week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s warning that Ukraine would lose the war without further support from the U.S. President Biden announced his intention to include the aid in the finalized budget, but it will be difficult to get Republican representatives on board.
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.