Keeping Score: E. Jean Carroll Wins Defamation Case; 64K Pregnancies from Rape in Abortion Ban States; U.S. Congress Members Urge SCOTUS to Protect Abortion Pill

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

“When people ask me, ‘Are you proud to be the first Mexican American elected to the Texas Senate?’ I would say, ‘Well, yes, but I’m also disgusted. I’m disgusted because it took so long.

In the entire history of the state of Texas, only 24 women have served in the Texas Senate—only 24, including the eight who serve today. Twenty-four women have served with 952 men during 88 legislative sessions … so it’s bittersweet. You celebrate because you did it, but you’re disappointed and sad that it took so long.”

—Texas state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, the first woman dean of the Texas Senate and the first Mexican American woman elected to the Texas Senate.

“I want to see no abortions be legal, ever. When you’re looking at a case where a woman’s life is at risk, where the physician believes that she can no longer safely carry her child in her womb, or she may lose her life—we wouldn’t consider that an abortion … it’s a ‘maternal-fetal separation.’”

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, at the National Pro-Life Summit.

“It is a really profound moment in time for American women. One in three women in the United States of childbearing age is living under an abortion ban. And all of these women are at risk. But the greater risk is if we have a Republican White House, a Republican-controlled Senate, a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, we are going to see what’s happening in Texas spread all across the country.”

—U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) reacting to a new Biden campaign ad on abortion, featuring Dr. Austin Dennard,, an obstetrician, gynecologist and patient plaintiff in Zurawski v. Texas

“Young people do not have some fantasy that they are going to vote and then everything is going to be fine. … Young people see the failure of our institutions, the inadequacy of what is truly an inspirational democracy, not a full democracy that it should be. Young people are voting anyway. They see states making it hard for young people to vote—targeting Black and Indigenous, disabled and rural voters—and they are voting anyway. … Young people are informed, engaged, intersectional, pissed off, and they’re voting anyway.”

—Kimberly Inez McGuire at a panel discussion hosted by the Guttmacher Institute.

“For centuries, women—particularly Black women, women of color and LGBTQ+ folks—have done the work of preserving and defending our country, and it is long past time to make gender equality the law of the land. The ERA would strengthen efforts to combat sex discrimination, close the gender pay gap, protect LGBTQ+ rights, address gender-based violence, defend reproductive freedom, and more. This issue transcends party and is about affirming the basic dignity, humanity, and equality of everyone who calls America home.”

—A statement from the congressional leads pushing for ratification of the ERA, one year after they introduced their bill to enshrine the ERA as the 28th Amendment.

“I’m alone and scared.

“Where is my mom.

“I want to live.”

Yeniifer Alvarez-Estrada Glick, while she was in the hospital with pregnancy-related hypertension and pulmonary edema. An abortion would likely have saved her life. Instead, two weeks after Roe was overturned, Yeni and her baby Selene both died preventable deaths.


+ E. Jean Carroll won her defamation case against Trump, with Trump ordered to pay her over $83 million in damages.

“This win, more than any other thing, when we needed it the most—after we lost the rights over our own bodies in many states—we put out our flag in the ground on this one. Women won this one. I think it bodes well for the future,” Carroll said. Although it will take time before she receives the money, she’s pledged to use it to do “something great.”

E. Jean Carroll leaving the Manhattan Federal Court on Jan. 26, 2024, in New York City. (GWR / Star Max / GC Images)

+ The New York state Senate passed a bill designed to protect the privacy of abortion care patients, by restricting tech companies’ ability to sell consumers’ health data. 

+ A federal judge temporarily stopped a voter suppression bill from taking effect in North Carolina. The bill targets people who register to vote and then cast their ballots the same day during the early voting period, and could have led to thousands of ballots, disproportionately from Black, Latina and young people, being unnecessarily tossed out. 

+ On the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the White House announced a new rule forbidding federal agencies from considering salary history when setting pay for new employees.

Former President Barack Obama with Lilly Ledbetter on Jan. 29, 2009, after signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (Brooks Kraft LLC / Corbis via Getty Images)

+ The House of Representatives passed the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 in a massively bipartisan vote. The bill includes an expansion of the child tax credit that will make an enormous difference for low-income families. If the Senate acts quickly to pass the bill, it could lift 400,000 children out of poverty.

+ Over 64,000 women and girls in states with abortion bans have endured pregnancies resulting from rape since Roe v. Wade fell. Across the 14 states, there were an estimated 520,000 total rapes, and 91 percent of the pregnancies took place in states without abortion exceptions for rape. Texas tops the list, with 45 percent of those pregnancies. 

+ In addition, Texas’ teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years after the state instituted an abortion ban. Latinas were disproportionately affected, possibly because they are also the group least likely to have health insurance in Texas. 

+ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court came close to ruling that abortion is protected by the state’s constitution, and allowed abortion providers to challenge a ban on Medicaid coverage of abortion. “With abortion care increasingly out of reach, particularly for people working to make ends meet, this is a crucial step to ensuring that the amount of money someone has doesn’t determine their options for care. Just a few short months ago, Pennsylvania voters took to the polls to reject anti-abortion judges—this Supreme Court decision shows the power of those results,” said Nourbese Flint, president of All* Above All.

+ AI-generated, sexually explicit deepfake images of Taylor Swift went viral, with one seen over 45 million times in the 19 hours before X suspended the perpetrators. 4chan users made the images by exploiting a now-eliminated loophole in the Microsoft platform Designer, showing how scarily easy it now is to produce nonconsensual sexual images of real people.

+ A man in Colorado stole more than 200 newspapers from distribution boxes to prevent people from reading the front-page story about a sexual assault investigation at the home of the city’s police chief. Three teens, including the chief’s stepson, were arrested after a then-17-year-old girl reported being raped at least three times.

+ Fifteen states have opted out of a new EBT program that provides eligible families with $40 per child per month during the summer. In the 35 participating states, the Department of Agriculture expects it to help 21 million children. In Mississippi, nonprofit Springboard to Opportunities is offering cash to families, stepping up to provide critical support after Gov. Tate Reeves failed to support low-income children. 

+ Trans people in Florida are no longer able to update the gender marker on their driver’s license. “It is quite likely that officials may use this policy to harass any person whose license has a sex designation they disagree with, including visitors from out of state,” warned ACLU senior policy counsel Arli Christian. 

Cole Ramsey, 39, holds a transgender pride flag in front of the Ohio statehouse to protest the passing of legislation against trans women playing sports in high school and college. (Stephen Zenner / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

+ Broadway star Chita Rivera died in January, at age 91. The singer, dancer and actor was known for her roles in West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago and many more. Throughout her career, she won multiple Tony awards, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

+ Missouri abortion advocates have launched a 2024 ballot measure campaign—but are including a fetal viability line that would allow bans after viability. Some advocates are wary that enshrining viability language in the state constitution could lead to unnecessary restrictions in the future. 

+ In California, 130 formerly incarcerated women are suing the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and more than 30 correctional officers. The women report widespread sexual abuse, violence and systemic failures to respond to reports of sexual abuse. 

“Every woman’s worst nightmare is being locked inside a facility filled with sexual predators with no means of escape. And that’s exactly what each of these women, and likely thousands more, were subjected to for decades,” said attorney Doug Rochen. 

+ Over 260 members of Congress filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to protect access to mifepristone. “Decades after FDA’s initial approval—yet somehow in an emergency posture—the district court and the Fifth Circuit intruded into FDA’s drug approval process, casting a shadow of uncertainty over its decisions. The perils of this unwarranted judicial intervention into science-based determinations can hardly be overstated,” they wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions to hear the Food and Drug Administration and Danco Labs’ appeal of a ruling that would reinstate restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone and sharply roll back access nationwide. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

+ Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed an executive order banning DEI programs at colleges and universities across the state. Stitt argued that he is “protecting tax dollars,” but only around $10 million was spent on DEI in the past decade—just three-tenths of 1 percent of higher education spending.

+ White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has named a new briefing room lectern after Alice Dunnigan and Ethel L. Payne, the first Black women of the White House press corps. 

+ Despite pessimistic predictions, the U.S. economy had a 3.1 percent GDP expansion in 2023, driven by strong consumer spending. Median household wealth rose by 37 percent between 2019 and 2022—the largest three-year increase on record, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

+ Nikki Haley has gone further than any other female Republican presidential candidate, but is still only polling even with Trump among women. 

+ Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed the first anti-LGBTQ bill of the year into law, banning trans people from using restrooms matching their gender identity in schools and government-owned buildings.

+ Lia Thomas has sued swimming’s governing body for discrimination after the organization barred her from competing in women’s events as a trans woman.

+ Taylor Swift became the first person to ever win the Grammy for Album of the Year four times, and took the opportunity to announce her next album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

+ For the first time, women won every single category in the main telecast of the Grammys.

How We’re Doing

+ Women make up less than 20 percent of state legislators in the Southeast. Despite a record number of women elected to state positions recently, states like Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee lag behind. West Virginia has just 13 percent women lawmakers. 

Structural barriers like part-time roles and lots of travel, as well as bias and discrimination from voters, make it more difficult for women with children to run for office. And Black women are particularly underrepresented. In Mississippi, white men are 28 percent of the state population but over 60 percent of the legislature. Black women are underrepresented by a factor of three.

+ The number of abortions in 2023 is likely to be higher than in 2020. In the first 10 months of the year, there were an estimated 878,000 abortions—94 percent of 2020’s total. And this number doesn’t include abortion care outside the healthcare system, which has likely increased substantially as states implemented abortion bans.

“An increase in abortion numbers is a positive development if it means people are getting the healthcare they want and need. However, despite an increase in abortions compared with 2020, we know that many people in 2023 had to overcome immense barriers to access care, often traveling across state lines to do so,” said Guttmacher data scientist Isaac Maddow-Zimet.

+ Almost one in five patients must now travel out of state to get an abortion, double the rate of interstate travel in 2020.

+ A survey found that women of different generations in the workforce (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z) are more aligned than generational stereotypes assume. 

Societal perceptions of success—like a high income, a high-ranking title and a comfortable lifestyle—were similar, and the most significant personal definition of success for all four generations involved healthy work/life balance. However, Baby Boomers and Gen Z were more likely than the middle two generations to define success by reaching the top of an organization. A majority of respondents reported facing obstacles of pay inequity and limited representation of women in decision-making roles.

“As women rise in our careers, we often do so with a sense of scarcity and competition with one another that we’ve been conditioned to accept—including generalized biases between generations. These survey findings underscore the power of unity and the shared challenges and aspirations that connect women across generations,” said Amanda Herring, CEO of Fe league.

+ Three in five Americans believe that Roe v. Wade being overturned has been bad for the country, which is twice the share of those who think it has been good for the country. More than three in five support Congress passing a law guaranteeing the right to an abortion.

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.


Katie Fleischer (she/they) is a Ms. editorial assistant working on the Front and Center series and Keeping Score.