War on Women Report: Unprovoked Attacks Against Women in New York City; Texas Medical Board Refuses to Clarify State Abortion Ban

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…

  • U.S. women are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to a recent National Women’s Law Center report  Regardless of race and ethnicity, this totals to over $399,600 over a 40-year career. When compared to white non-Hispanic men:
    • Native women lose over $1,149,800.
    • Latina women lose over $1,218,000.
    • Black women lose over $884,800.
    • Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander women lose over $187,600. 
  • President Biden pledged $200 million next year to expand U.S. government research on women’s health. This is part of an effort for the U.S. to better understand sexual and reproductive issues, erase gender gaps, and learn how to us artificial intelligence to improve women’s health research. 

Let’s not forget what else was sent our way last month. 

Monday, March 4 

+ The first over-the-counter birth control pill, Opill, was shipped to pharmacies across the country. The availability of an over-the-counter option eliminates potential barriers posed by the process of booking and attending a medical appointment, such as waiting time, childcare concerns, mobility challenges, and possible need to take time off work.

In the U.S., the average wait for an appointment with a physician is 26 days, but it could take months depending on the type of care needed and the availability of medical care in the area. For those who wish to skip the pharmacy completely, Opill is also available for purchase online.

Approving Opill for over-the-counter sales will expand access to contraception and reduce unintended pregnancies, especially among young people, minorities, and those who have difficulty dealing with the challenges involved in getting a prescription for their contraceptive needs. (Perrigo)

“Increasing access to contraception is good for all of us,” said Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, pediatrician in Indiana and Board Member with Physicians for Reproductive Health, “As Opill makes its way to pharmacies across the country, I am relieved to know that birth control access will become less challenging for so many people.”

Wednesday, March 6

+ Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) introduced the Protect Victims of Digital Exploitation and Manipulation Act of 2024, which aims to ban the production and distribution of non-consensual, deepfake pornography—porn made by consumers paying creators for artificially generated pornography of a specific person.

This act comes just over a month after AI-generated pornographic images of Taylor Swift spread across X. With the rise of artificial intelligence world-wide, the bill is a response to the increasing prevalence of consensual images and videos, and aims to limit the emotional and reputational harm to victims.

Friday, March 15

+ An award created to honor the life and accomplishments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being awarded to four men and Martha Stewart next month. The men are Elon Musk; Rupert Murdoch, the founder of Fox News; Sylvester Stallone, an American actor; and Michael Milken, a financier known for his guilty plea for violating U.S. security laws.

Created in 2019, this award previously aimed to recognize extraordinary women with notable positive influence on society, with previous recipients including Queen Elizabeth II and Barbra Streisand. It has since been changed to “trailblazing men and women who have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments in their chosen fields.” without the consent of the Ginsburg family.

The family is pressuring Opperman, the organization in charge of the award, to remove Justice Ginsburg’s name from the award unless the original criteria are restored. “This year, the Opperman Foundation has strayed far from the original mission of the award and from what Justice Ginsburg stood for,” Jane Ginsburg, daughter of the Supreme Court justice, said in a statement.

Friday, March 22

+ The Texas Medical Board refused to further specify the rules around the state’s highly restrictive ban on abortion, which states that the only time doctors are allowed to provide an abortion is in cases of “medical emergency” or if the patient has a “life-threatening” condition. The ambiguity of this statute results in situations like that of Kate Cox, wherein despite four visits to the emergency room, elevated vital signs and risks of uterine rupture, Cox did not qualify for an abortion in Texas and was forced to leave the state for care. 

Amanda Zurawski, Dr. Austin Dennard and Taylor Edwards prepare to enter the court room at the Texas Supreme Court in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 28, 2023, the day the Court heard arguments in a case brought on behalf of 22 women who were denied abortions even though they had serious complications with their pregnancies that were in some cases life-threatening. (Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images)

Maternal mortality rates have risen every year since 2018—so the need to clarify statutes such as Texas’ ban has never been more pressing. This vague language leaves medical professionals unsure how long to put off potentially life-saving care, and leaves pregnant people unsure of whether they will need to leave their home state for an abortion.

“There is no clear definition in the statute,” said Sonia Suter, a professor of law at George Washington University who specializes in medical ethics and reproductive rights. “Part of the problem is trying to define an exception for a medical profession in a statute that doesn’t necessarily rely on medical terms. You’re almost speaking two different languages.”

Monday, March 25

+ A New York appellate court ruled that Trump must pay a $175 million bond for filing fraudulent financial statements to inflate his assets values. This is less than half of the $454 million bond he was initially due to pay, and he was given an extension of 10 days to pay the bond from his initial 30-day deadline, which ended on March 25. The bond amount was changed because Trump’s legal team could not find a bond of that size and deemed the original amount a “practical impossibility.”

Eric Trump, a co-defendant in the case, added that “the 30 largest bonding companies in the United States have never seen a bond close to this size for anyone, let alone a private company.”

+ The United Nations Security Council voted 14-0 in favor of an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war until April 9, the end of Ramadan. The U.S. was the only country to abstain from the vote; in response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu cancelled an Israeli delegation visit to Washington, D.C. In addition to a ceasefire, the resolution calls for the release of all hostages.

A Palestinian woman and children stand in a damaged house following overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 27, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images)

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war that started on Oct. 7, more than 30,000 Palestinians have died, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, but the true number of casualties is likely higher. According to Israel, 130 hostages remain in Gaza.

Tuesday, March 26

+ Democrat Marilyn Lands won an Alabama special election for a state legislative seat with 62 percent of the vote—a powerful shift from 2022 when she lost to her Republican opponent by 7 percent. Lands’ campaign made national news, as it was heavily focused on abortion rights and in vitro fertilization (IVF) access. This election was Alabama’s first since IVF services paused statewide after the state Supreme Court ruled that embryos were children.

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation. Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception,” Lands said after her win. 

Wednesday, March 27

+ Police made their first arrest in connection to an onslaught of unprovoked attacks against women in New York City. This past week numerous women have reported being punched or hit in the face with other objects while walking in NYC. Skiboy Stora was arrested in connection to “at least one” of these assaults, but at this time it is unknown whether the incidents were a coordinated attack. In the three days preceding Stora’s arrest, in addition to numerous police reports being filed, over 10 women used TikTok to publicly report being hit and warn others living in NYC.

@mikaylatoninato @halley ♬ original sound – mikayla

The videos sparked online discussion of male violence in public spaces and inspired countless more women, in NYC and beyond, to come forward in solidarity and share their own encounters with unprovoked violence. Some online creators have begun developing digital archives of these videos—one archive specific to assaults in NYC has already garnered over 40 videos.

These online spaces have become a much needed place of support as the vast majority of the assaults have gone unaddressed by the legal system—such as in Allison Hager’s experience, who said of law enforcement, “I wasn’t really being taken seriously… I ended up never hearing anything back.”

This series of sexist attacks comes as a harsh reminder of the daily realities women face while navigating public spaces in a world that valorizes male violence.

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.

About and

Emmaline Kenny is an editorial intern at Ms. and senior at Smith College, where she is pursuing majors in the study of women and gender and studio art.
Jules Hanisee is an editorial intern for Ms., originally from Albuquerque, N.M., and based in New Orleans, LA. They are a junior at Tulane University studying international relations, French, and English. Their interests include voting rights and elections, LGBTQ+ relations and intersectional public policy.