Keeping Score: Women’s Basketball Reaches New Heights; France Protects Abortion, While Florida Tightens Its Ban

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

“If you are resourced and privileged enough to buy a ticket and fly three hours to Virginia and Maryland, you’re still going to be able to access an abortion. But there are a lot of people who do not have that kind of resource and privilege. So this particularly affects Black and brown people, undocumented people, people with language barriers, people with disabilities, people who don’t have the means to get care elsewhere.”

—Dr. Chelsea Daniels, a Planned Parenthood physician, explaining the impact of Florida’s new six-week abortion ban, which takes effect May 1
A “Rally to Stop the Six-Week Abortion Ban” held at Lake Eola Park on April 13, 2024, in Orlando. The rally organized by the Yes On 4 campaign is in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that the Constitution’s privacy protections do not extend to abortion, effectively allowing Florida to ban the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. Florida voters will decide in the November election if they want to expand abortion access. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

“I think women’s basketball was being held back intentionally, for one reason or the other. We are bursting at the seams with talent. Young talent, great coaching, great players. People want access to our game.”

Dawn Staley, head coach of championship-winning University of South Carolina women’s basketball team. 

“Yet again, a group of all-male, celibate clergymen are telling women and gender-expansive people that their lived experiences are not real or valid. I am hurt and angry on behalf of womenwho have had abortions, who have dealt with violence in their homes, who reject the rigid gender norms imposed on us by the church—and LGBTQIA+ people, specifically trans people. 

“For all the talk of this document prioritizing the need to end violence against women, Pope Francis still does not seem to realize how the church exerts enormous, life-or-death power over the bodies of women and gender-expansive people. Catholic doctrine on abortion, contraception, and pregnancy has forced countless women, many of them the poorest of the poor, to give birth, even if they are rape victims and or facing high-risk pregnancies that could kill them. The root of the problem is that Pope Francis and all Catholic prelates still do not believe that women are equal to men.”

—Catholics for Choice president Jamie L. Manson, responding to a new document from the Vatican that rejects gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy and abortion care.

“We have plenty of solid legal arguments for why pregnant people should not be deprived life-saving medical care at publicly funded hospitals in deference to an extremist fringe political agenda, but we must look at the bigger picture. The fact that this case exists is evidence that the Dobbs framework is functionally unworkable, inherently standard-less, and dangerous to pregnant people. Dobbs must be overturned.”

—co-executive director of Women’s Law Project Susan J. Frietsche, on their amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and restore abortion rights. 

“Just being able to have people say that ‘she changed my life, she gave me inspiration, she gave me confidence,’ and I think I’ve done that in so many different ways. Being a great player is amazing, but being able to have little girls or even grown women come up to me just like, ‘Thank you, thank you for being who you are, thank you for speaking out on things that I’m too scared to speak out on or I don’t have the platform to use.’”

Angel Reese, reflecting on what stands out about her impact as a star Louisiana State University women’s basketball player this year.
Angel Reese of LSU, and Caitlin Clark and Gabbie Marshall of the Iowa Hawkeyes, during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament National Championship on April 2, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Ben Solomon / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

You know what gave me an early feminist idea about the world was at the very back of Ms. magazine—which was the closest we got to cartoons in my house—was once a month, it would point out the sexist advertisements of that month and you know, “you’ve come a long way, baby,” or whatever. We’d all laugh at the sexism in the media.”

Courtney Love, Episode 2 of “Courtney Love’s Women”


+ Women’s college basketball smashed viewership records this year, with an average of 18.7 million viewers during the championship game between South Carolina and Iowa. The game was the most watched basketball game of any level since 2019, and the U.S.’s second most-watched non-Olympic women sporting event ever, behind the 2015 women’s World Cup Final.

+ Caitlin Clark is hugely responsible for this increased interest in women’s basketball, setting the all-time scoring record and drawing millions of fans over her four years at Iowa. She was selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever in the 2024 WNBA draft Monday night. LSU player Angel Reese also announced she plans to join the draft this year, in a Vogue shoot inspired by Serena Williams; she was selected by the Chicago Sky with the seventh pick.

+ The attention on the WNBA has renewed calls for pay equity for female athletes:

  • Clark will earn $76,535 in her rookie season this summer, while the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, San Antonio Spurs rookie star Victor Wembanyama, earned $12.1 million in his first season.
  • Currently, teams that make the women’s NCAA tournament don’t earn anything, unlike the men’s tournament.

But the newfound viewers are also paving the way for teams to earn more: NCAA president Charlie Baker says he is aiming to change this for the 2024-25 season.

+ The Texas Medical Board refused to list specific exceptions to the state’s restrictive abortion ban, despite women being forced to flee the state and doctors threatened with decades in prison for providing abortion care. Twelve of the sixteen board members are men, and only one is an OB-GYN. 

+ Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) managed to include $1 billion for childcare in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills. Despite threats of major funding cuts, Sen. Murray and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) were able to use their leadership positions to increase funding for Head Start and childcare for low-income families. Since 2015, funding for childcare and Head Start has increased by $6.3 billion, over 250 percent.

+ A French constitutional amendment affirming the right to abortion passed by a majority of 780 to 72 and was added to the Constitution on International Women’s Day.

+ Beyoncé is the first Black woman to reach number one on the Top Country Album chart, with her new album Cowboy Carter. It’s also her eighth album that reached the top of Billboard’s 200 chart.

+ A Connecticut bill would enable victims of coerced debt to sue their abusers, and would institute a 30-day review period to gather information and file police reports. Coerced debt involves an abuser forcing someone to take on debt, which can ruin their credit history for years. A 2019 study found that 52 percent of women in abusive relationships experience coerced debt.

Victim Karen Robbins explained, “It’s affected my life. To this day, I can’t get a credit card. I have secured credit cards, which means I put, for example, $2,000 in and they give me a $2,000 limit. I can’t rent an apartment in my name, I can’t get a mortgage, I can’t get a loan for my kids for college. This is four years later.”

+ Federal employees will soon have access to insurance plans that cover fertility services, including up to $25,000 annually for IVF. That’s more generous than the average employer, which has a median lifetime IVF benefits cap of $20,000.

+ Palestinian photojournalist Samar Abu Elouf won the International Women’s Media Foundation’s annual Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, for her work documenting the effects on women and children of Israel’s attacks on Gaza City. 

“I am honored to receive this award, to be recognized for my work in Gaza, and to follow in the footsteps of Anja’s courage. Still, it is hard to celebrate given the ongoing tragedy in my homeland. My work as a photojournalist taught me to respect the humanity of all people with fortitude and patience. The camera has made me a strong woman, and I will continue working and taking photos until my last breath,” said Abu Elouf.

+ The Florida Supreme Court allowed a six-week abortion ban to go into effect in May. However, they also approved a ballot initiative for November that would amend the state Constitution to protect the right to abortion.

Pro-choice demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20, 1970. Among the visible signs is one that reads, “Defend Shirley Wheeler,” referencing the first woman prosecuted under Florida’s abortion laws (and possibly the first in the United States); she was convicted the following year. (Leif Skoogfors / Getty Images)

+ North Carolina abortion clinics are preparing for a significant increase in out-of-state patients when Florida’s six-week ban goes into effect next month. Florida provided one-twelfth of all abortions in the U.S. last year, and over 9,300 people traveled to Florida from other states. Now, women in the South will be forced to travel even farther to receive care.

(The organization Plan C has a comprehensive guide to finding abortion pills on their website. Select “Find Abortion Pills” and then select the state where you are located from the drop-down menu. The website is continually updated and has all the latest information on where to find abortion pills from anywhere in the U.S.)

+ The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) banned trans women from competing in women’s sports, after a 20-0 vote from their Council of Presidents. They also banned trans men who have begun hormone replacement therapy. The NAIA governs 249 colleges across the country.

+ A St. Louis Planned Parenthood will begin offering sedation for patients during IUD insertions. The clinic realized that patients were opting for other forms of birth control because of concerns about pain. 

Chief medical officer Colleen McNicholas explains, “Folks really want this super-effective, great form of birth control but also are having such negative experiences with its insertion. At the end of the day, we want people to feel empowered to choose the method that’s going to work the best for them. But we also feel like they don’t need to be traumatized in the process of getting that method.”

+ President Biden announced a new plan to cancel student debt, attempting to circumvent the Supreme Court’s previous objections to loan forgiveness. The plan would eliminate accrued interest for 23 million people, cancel the full debt amount for 4 million, and provide at least $5,000 in relief to more than 10 million.

+ In response to a Gothamist investigation, the Bronx District Attorney’s office is assembling a team of prosecutors to investigate claims of sexual assault made by former detained people on Rikers Island against Rikers staff. This comes after the Gothamist analyzed over 700 lawsuits that describe the sexual abuse on the island.

+ Tara VanDerveer, who set an all-time record for most coaching wins in the history of college basketball earlier this year with 1,216 victories, has announced her retirement after serving as the head coach at Standford for 38 years.

+ The Supreme Court announced on Monday, that it will not hear Mckesson v. Doe. The decision not to hear Mckesson leaves in place a lower court decision that effectively eliminated the right to organize a mass protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

+ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) gutted the Right to Contraception Act that was originally introduced as a safeguard against increasing threats to contraception. The amendment makes contraception a mere policy statement rather than law, going against Virginia’s clear demand for reproductive health rights and personal freedom.

+ On Monday April 15, the Supreme Court allowed Idaho to maintain its ban on gender-affirming care for minors in a 6-3 vote.

+ Hellen Obiri of Kenya won the Boston Marathon Women’s Professional Division for the second year in a row with a time of 2:22:37. For the last two miles of the race, Obiri ran neck-and-neck with fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi.

How We’re Doing

+ A study of 59 school shooters found that 70 percent had committed violence against women before or during their attacks. 

“These findings have many implications, including the importance of targeting policies and procedures that normalize violence and of taking victims of harassment and abuse seriously, prior to escalation,” explains lead author Nicole Johnson. “It demands that we attend to, and take seriously, these ‘smaller’ acts of violence that exist on the same spectrum as school shootings.”

+ More than 20 percent of women ages 18-49 living in abortion ban states have struggled themselves or know someone who has struggled to access abortion care. Sixty-seven percent of them believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Nationally, 70 percent of American women—and 66 percent in states with abortion bans—support guaranteeing a federal right to abortion.

+ More than 80 percent of Texas women don’t understand what medical exceptions are allowed under the state’s abortion ban. One-third incorrectly believed that abortions due to rape and incest are allowed, and almost a quarter thought that fatal fetal diagnosis was a valid exception to the ban. Perhaps most worryingly, only 43% knew it was legal to receive abortion care if they have a life-threatening medical condition. This misinformation could prevent patients from receiving the care they need.

+ For the first time in two decades, women’s representation in C-suite roles at U.S. companies decreased. In 2023, women held 11.8 percent of the 15,000 C-suite roles, down from 12.2 percent in 2022. Now, gender parity may not be reached until 2072 or later.

+ 2023 was the deadliest year for women in journalism, especially in conflict zones and authoritarian regimes. At the end of the year, 116 women journalists were incarcerated around the world, and the rise in court orders against journalists in the U.S. is also an alarming sign of increasing press freedom violations. 

+ Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are vastly underfunded, despite federal laws mandating equal state funding to other land-grant schools. The 18 original land-grant HBCUs have been underfunded by more than $12 billion since the ‘90s. This disproportionately harms Black women, who made up 69 percent of bachelor degrees from HBCUs in 2021.

+ State abortion bans are not only restricting medication abortion, they’re also preventing cancer patients from receiving the medications they need. Methotrexate and misoprostol are also used to manage chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, lupus and cancer. Seventy percent of people with a methotrexate prescription are women, and 92% of those were not pregnant. Similarly, 61 percent of women with misoprostol prescriptions were not pregnant. Instead, most were undergoing cervical procedures like IUD insertions. 

+ Fox News covered the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling reviving a 160-year-old state law that bans abortions under almost all circumstances, for only 12 minutes on April 9, a Media Matters review found. None of the network’s evening “opinion” shows mentioned it at all.

Here’s a quick breakdown by cable network:

  • Fox provided a mere 12 minutes of coverage to the Arizona ruling on Tuesday.
  • CNN gave the ruling 2 hours of airtime across 8 shows.
  • MSNBC provided 2 hours and 20 minutes of coverage over 9 shows.

+ Less than 1 in 6, or 14.4 percent, of movies this year will be directed solely by women, according to a new study by NoDeposit365. On the other hand, 82.7 percent of movies are set to be directed by men, and 2.8% feature both male and female directors.

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.