War on Women Report: Anti-Abortion Activists Desperate to Keep Abortion Off 2024 Ballot; NAIA Bars Trans Women From Competing

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… 

+ Alex Clark, conservative commentator and podcaster with right-wing nonprofit Turning Point USA, announced her mission to get women to stop using hormonal birth control, saying “And if it is the only thing that I talk about from now on, so be it.” Clark and Turning Point even sell stickers that read: “Birth Control, We’re Done.” She falsely claimed that birth control can make women feel bisexual, accelerate aging, “induce an abortion,” cause “issues with fertility,” and poison anyone who takes it. None of these are true. In reality, birth control pills are effective and safe options for contraception.

+ Anti-abortion activists in Missouri are using a text campaign to trick voters out of supporting a ballot measure that would protect abortion rights by telling them the petition is an attempt to steal their personal data. The texts—which you can see here—say “protect yourself from fraud and theft” and “don’t share your personal data with strangers.”

+ Pro-Palestinian protests and encampments continue to pop up across the U.S., with over 50 campuses participating. Students are demanding a multitude of changes—notably their respective universities’ divestment from funding linked to Israeli entities, such as Microsoft, which offers services used by Israel’s Ministry of Defense, and Amazon and Google, which are part of a cloud-computing contract with the Israeli government. Many have equated the protesters’ support for Palestine as an explicit call for violence against Israel and the Jewish community, with some protesters using antisemitic rhetoric and confronting Jewish students.

Several universities have called both university and state police on student and faculty protesters, leading to officers using tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters as well as to the arrests of hundreds of students and the detainment of professors. PEN America called the use of force “shocking and unacceptable. Engaging police to deal with peaceful protests represents an escalation that is inimical to the exercise of free expression and to a learning environment, and further raises the risk of use of excessive force. … Whether one agrees or disagrees with the politics of the protesters, the precedents these actions are setting should raise alarm.”

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

Monday, April 1

+ Seventy percent of school shooters committed violence against women before or during their attacks, a study found. Nicole Johnson, lead author of the study and associate professor of counseling psychology at Lehigh’s College of Education said, “We made this relationship between violence against women and school shootings visible in hopes that school administrators, teachers, parents and communities will do the same. All of these behaviors exist within a social-ecological reality that condones violence, hostility toward women, and enactment of hegemonic masculinity in harmful ways.” 

Emphasizing the link between masculinity, sexism and violence is imperative as media coverage of mass killings tends to emphasize a range of other causative factors, such as “mental illness,” feelings of social rejection, and the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons. Discussing sexism and hegemonic masculinity as causal factors to mass violence is the first step in developing harm reduction strategies that truly target the root of the issue, and reminds lawmakers and school administrators that violence against women should be taken seriously.

Wednesday, April 3

+ A bill proposed in Connecticut aims to enhance protections for victims of coerced debt. Fifty-two percent of women in abusive relationships experience coerced debt, wherein their partner physically or psychologically pressures them to take out loans or commit to other payments despite their wishes. In other cases, an abusive partner may take financial actions under their partner’s name without their knowledge. Karen Robbins, a resident of Connecticut who submitted a testimony of her experience, said, “For 18 years, he was opening credit cards in my name without my knowledge. … To this day, I can’t get a credit card. I can’t rent an apartment in my name, I can’t get a mortgage. This is four years later.” 

This bill would help provide those with experiences like Robbins with legal recourse against their abusers, and ease collaborations between victims and financial institutions to find solutions. So far the bill has been passed in the Banking Committee. For Connecticut to join Maine, Texas, California and New York in adopting coerced debt protections, the bill must now be passed by the House, Senate and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

Monday, April 8

+ The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) approved a policy in a 20-0 vote barring athletes from competing in women’s sports unless they were assigned female gender at birththe first among collegiate athletic associations to implement such a rule. It also bars those who were assigned female but who have taken masculinizing hormones to transition from participation. Male sports will remain open to any student athlete.

NAIA president Jimm Carr said that the primary reason for the policy is to promote fairness in competition: “We believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA.” He also cited Title IX, saying the policy aligns with Title IX’s provision for separate but equal opportunities for women to compete. 

“This is unacceptable and blatant discrimination that not only harms trans, nonbinary and intersex individuals, but limits the potential of all athletes,” Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, told ESPN. “It’s important to recognize that these discriminatory policies don’t enhance fairness in competition. Instead, they send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women.”

Wednesday, April 10

+ Fox News spent only 12 minutes covering a ruling from the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court reviving a 160-year-old state law that bans abortion except “to save a mother’s life,” according to a report from Media Matters. The report argued Fox has a pattern of shielding viewers from stories that could damage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In comparison, on the day of the ruling, CNN and MSNBC each accorded the topic at least two hours of discussion. 

The coverage Fox did provide focused on the ill effects the ban may have on Trump’s campaign. Chief political anchor Bret Baier called the story “politically harmful to Republicans kind of across the board.” Byron York, a contributor for Fox, seconded the opinion, adding that the timing of the ruling “absolutely seems scripted” to harm Trump’s campaign.

As abortion rights continue to accrue bipartisan support, Fox’s coverage of the ruling reflects the growing divide between conservative lawmakers’ goals and those of their voter base.

An abortion rights rally on July 4, 2022, in Philadelphia. (Hannah Beier / Getty Images)

Wednesday, April 17 

+ Ellen Ash Peters, the Connecticut Supreme Court’s first female appointee and chief justice and Yale Law School’s first female faculty member and first female dean, died at 94. During her time as chief justice, Peters was known to work against gender and racial bias in court as well as educational systems state-wide. She is celebrated for authoring the majority opinion in Connecticut’s landmark case that desegregated schools in 1996, as well as her majority opinion in a ruling that upheld Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons in 1995.

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Peters “gave generations of women law students cause for hope and a reason to believe that they, too, could aspire and achieve.”

Rest in power, Ellen Ash Peters.

Saturday, April 20

+ The conservative activist group True the Vote launched the 611 Project, a campaign that essentially repackages the Stop the Steal movement, a misinformation campaign from 2020 alleging Democrats were using voter fraud to sway the election. The 611 Project continues to work off disproven claims about the prevalence of noncitizen voting in America and introduces an action plan that toes the line between endorsing citizen engagement in election services and promoting voter intimidation, instructing citizens to take matters into their own hands and making militaristic statements such as “leave no polling place unmanned.” As tensions around voting polls rise, at least half a dozen states have introduced legislation this year aiming to restrict or ban the usage of firearms at polling locations.

The 611 Project also encourages people to use True the Vote’s IV3 database, a tool that compares names on voter rolls to a database maintained by the U.S. Postal Service, allowing anyone to challenge voter registrations across the country if they spot a discrepancy. However, investigations into the IV3 database have found the information to be unreliable. Additionally, similar databases have been found to produce frequent errors, such as removing voters from the system due to typos or missing commas. 

True the Vote and similar organizations are backed by big names in the Republican Party such as former Trump advisor Cleta Mitchell, disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn, former Trump lawyer and TV presenter on the conservative news channel One America News Christina Bobb, and Donald Trump himself.

Wednesday, April 24

+ The Supreme Court held two hours of oral arguments on whether states can require women to sacrifice their health and well-being in order to continue nonviable pregnancies. A ruling is expected in June.

Activists stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after placing chrysanthemums in front of the building on July 11, 2022. The organizers placed the flowers to symbolize the number of people the group believes will die as a result of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

+ President Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid package that the House of Representatives approved just under a week earlier in a bipartisan 79-18 vote, despite adamant objections from far-right Republicans. This package includes aid to three international conflict zones, with $60.8 billion to Ukraine, $26.3 billion to Israel, and $8.1 billion to Taiwan for defense against China. Biden said the package is going to make the world safer. 

Although support for the package was strong, several Democrats expressed their distress with giving Israel further aid as it progresses a war killing over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Biden stressed the bill increases aid to Gaza, but the package includes a prohibition of funds being sent to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. “My commitment to Israel … is ironclad. The security of Israel is critical. I will always make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and terrorists who it supports,” Biden said. 

Thursday, April 25

+ New York’s highest court overturned Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction after finding that the trial judge permitted a testimony against Weinstein concerning previous “prior bad acts,” which are not admissible in court. The ruling overturns his conviction of first-degree criminal act and third-degree rape in 2020. Despite this overruling, Weinstein will remain in prison because he was convicted of rape in 2022 in a separate trial in California.

Women protest against rape as they sing a song in front of the court while Harvey Weinstein attends a pre-trial session on Jan. 10, 2020, in New York City. (Kena Betancur / Getty Images)

This ruling is considered the second sexual violence high-profile case to be overturned on appeal. The first was a Pennsylvania court overturning Bill Cosby’s 2018 conviction of drugging and sexually assaulting women, saying his due process rights were violated. Weinstein’s attorney Arthur L. Aidala said, “That’s the only reason why those witnesses were admitted. To show that he’s a bad guy. He was tried on his character, not the evidence.”

One of the witnesses in the trial, Dawn Dunning, said that while she is surprised that the conviction was overturned, she is proud that she testified and confronted Weinstein: “I came forward to support other women who were also sexually abused by Weinstein and to ensure that he would be held accountable.” Another witness, Miriam Haley, would consider testifying again should a retrial be held. 

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About and

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.
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.