War on Women Report: Supreme Court Fails to Deliver Abortion Wins; Senate Republicans Block Contraception and IVF Bills

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… 

+ The U.S. maintains the highest rate of maternal mortality among high-income nations, according to an international comparison from the Commonwealth Fund. Black women experience the highest rates—more than twice the national average—due to systemic healthcare inequities. 

The majority of deaths occur in the postpartum period, lasting 42 days. The U.S. differs from several other high-income countries during this time, as women are not guaranteed home visits, paid leave or the presence of a midwife. 

+  Laws limiting abortion providers’ capacity are associated with increased rates of homicide of reproductive-age women, a study from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine found. The analysis recorded a 3.4 percent increase in homicides related to intimate partner violence. These findings corroborate existing research on the necessity of protecting abortion to ensure health and safety. 

+ New Hampshire became the 13th state to outlaw child marriage, raising the legal age from 16 to 18 without exception. The law goes into effect in 2025. “Raising it to 18 shows the rest of the country that we want our girls to live to their full potential, that they can be and choose the lives that they want,” said state Rep. Cassandra Levesque (D-Barrington), an advocate for child marriage bans.

Let’s not forget what else was sent our way in June.

Wednesday, June 5: Senate Republicans Block Contraception Access Legislation

Senate Republicans blocked legislation that sought to protect contraception access. The bill, the Right to Contraception Act, would enshrine individuals’ right to right to buy and use different forms of contraception, such as the Plan B bill, condoms and birth control pills, nationwide. 

Senate Democrats prompted the vote to put Republicans’ stances on the issue on the record. The legislation won 51-39 but failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome the filibuster and make it to a vote. 

“Today, we live in a country where not only tens of millions of women have been robbed of their reproductive freedoms. We also live in a country where tens of millions more worry about something as basic as birth control,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor. “That’s utterly medieval. It’s sickening. It should never happen here in the United States, but because of Donald Trump and the hard right, it’s reality.”

A news conference on the Right to Contraception Act outside the U.S. Capitol on June 5, 2024. (Kent Nishimura / Getty Images)

Thursday, June 13: Senate Republicans Block Bill Defending Right to IVF

Senate Republicans also blocked legislation that would defend women’s right to in vitro fertilization, also known as IVF. This action comes after numerous states, such as Louisiana, created bans and restrictions on the procedure. 

The Right to IVF Act was an amalgamation of bills, including the Access to Family Building Act, Veteran Families Health Services Act, Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act and Family Building Federal Employees Health Benefit Act. Together, these bills would have protected the right to receive, and healthcare workers’ ability to provide, IVF. Additionally, the bill sought to expand insurance coverage to make the treatment more accessible to Americans. 

All Republicans in the Senate except Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voted down the measure. The bill only received 48 of the 60 votes needed.

Later in the month, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) introduced a bill to bar the use of defense funds for IVF treatment. The amendment would defund “assisted reproductive technology that includes any infertility treatments or technologies including IVF to ensure human life is protected. 

Such proposals follow Senate and House Democrats’ attempts to prove reproductive healthcare is a vital topic in the upcoming election. The voting results proved to the public that the majority of Republican senators stand against reproductive healthcare access.

Thursday, June 13: Mifepristone Will Continue to Remain Widely Available in the U.S.

The Supreme Court unanimously voted to dismiss a lawsuit attempting to restrict access to the abortion pill mifepristone and telehealth abortion nationwide in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.

An abortion-rights rally outside the Supreme Court as the justices of the court hear oral arguments in the case of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine on March 26, 2024. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images)

Mifepristone is one of two medications used in a medication abortion. It was first approved by the FDA in 2000. Medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S.—63 percent in 2023. This service is particularly common among women who live in states with restrictions. 

The plaintiffs, antiabortion doctors and organizations, claimed that the FDA’s regulations of the drug were harmful and unreasonable. The Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have grounds to sue, as they did not suffer from physical or monetary injury. 

“Unfortunately, the attacks on abortion pills will not stop here—the anti-abortion movement sees how critical abortion pills are in this post-Roe world, and they are hell-bent on cutting off access. In the end, this ruling is not a ‘win’ for abortion—it just maintains the status quo, which is a dire public health crisis in which 14 states have criminalized abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

Saturday, June 15: Missouri Judge Claims Missouri Abortion Ban Is not an Imposition of Religious Beliefs

Judge Jason Sengheiser, a circuit judge for the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri, sided with the state, ruling that Missouri’s abortion restriction ban, passed shortly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, does not impose religious beliefs onto individuals seeking the procedure. In 2023, the National Women’s Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and Stated filed a lawsuit on behalf of faith leaders in the state. The groups claimed that language in the law suggests life begins at conception. One section reads: “In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life, that all men and women are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life.’”

Sengheiser claimed that while such language may be seen as an imposition of religious values, it does not directly force individuals to conform to one religion or another. 

“The plain language of the challenged provisions stating that life begins at conception do not do so in religious terms,” Sennheiser wrote. “While the determination that life begins at conception may run counter to some religious beliefs, it is not itself necessarily a religious belief. As such, it does not prevent all men and women from worshiping Almighty God or not worshiping according to the dictates of their own consciences.” 

The 2022 Missouri trigger law outlawed the procedure in nearly all cases, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Only some medical emergencies give cause for a patient to receive an abortion. In May, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation that attempts to remove Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program. 

Wednesday, June 19: Snapchat Pays $15 Million to Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Snapchat’s owner, Snap Inc., agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought forth by the California Civil Rights Department representing women who worked at the company claiming the company discriminated against women workers. The lawsuit alleges that the social media company failed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and paid women workers less than their male counterparts. 

Some women who complained or reported instances of sexual harassment, advances or gender discrimination were fired or kept from professional opportunities. Investigations of such occurrences and gender pay gaps were conducted for the last three years. 

According to the Califoria Civil Rights Department, most of the settlement money will go to those affected by the social media company’s actions. 

“In California, we’re proud of the work of our state’s innovators who are a driving force of our nation’s economy,” said Kevin Kish, director of California’s Civil Rights Department. “This settlement with Snapchat demonstrates a shared commitment to a California where all workers have a fair chance at the American Dream. Women are entitled to equality in every job, in every workplace, and in every industry.”

Thursday, June 20: Louisiana to Require 10 Commandments Be Displayed in Public Schools

Louisiana’s GOP-dominated legislature and conservative governor passed a law requiring all public schools to display a poster-sized version of the 10 Commandments in every classroom. All public schools funded by the state from kindergarten to the collegiate level will have to comply with the new law by January 2025. 

Four days after the law was passed, nine families of different religious backgrounds filed a lawsuit against Louisiana’s education department. The parents claim that the new law “substantially interferes with and burdens” their First Amendment right to raise their children under whatever religion they so choose. 

“By favoring one version of the 10 Commandments and mandating that it be posted in public schools, the government is intruding on deeply personal matters of religion,” Rev. Jeff Simms, a plantiff, said at a news conference. “This is religious favoritism that runs counter to my religion and faith.”

The parents have support by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. 

The required public display of the Christian commandments in classrooms was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1980 case, Stone v. Graham. The Court found that the Kentucky law in question “had no secular legislative purpose” and was “plainly religious in nature.”

Monday, June 24: Two Years in Post-Roe America 

The 24th marked the two-year anniversary of Dobbs v. Jackson, the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion. Today 21 states ban or restrict abortion earlier than Roe’s standards. Fourteen of these states have full bans. Republican-dominated legislatures continue to attack rights, introducing further restrictions on abortion, contraception and IVF access. The following statistics represent only a glimpse of what has been endured over the past two years. 

  • A sharp decline in OB-GYN residency applications, especially in states with strict antiabortion laws: a 21 percent drop in Alabama, an 18 percent drop in Louisiana and a 25 percent drop in Missouri
  • More than 171,000 patients traveled to receive abortion care in 2023. The number has more than doubled since 2020 to equal nearly one in five patients. 
  • A 39 percent increase in requests for abortion support funds. 
  • 6.7 million Latinas are left living in the 26 states that are likely to ban abortion care or already have. This number comprises almost half of all Latinas ages 15 to 49 in the U.S.. 

Thursday, June 27: SCOTUS Temporarily Allows Emergency Abortions in Idaho 

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Idaho hospitals can perform emergency abortions to protect a pregnant patient’s health—for now. The Court dismissed Idaho’s appeal, ignoring the central issues of the case, which could be re-introduced in another case. The question of whether federal law precedes state abortion bans remains unanswered. 

The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires hospitals that receive federal funds to stabilize or transfer patients who need emergency care. For pregnant patients in Idaho, stabilization may require an abortion, even though the state bans the procedure. 

The SCOTUS decision reinstates a lower court order that allowed Idaho hospitals to perform emergency abortions without being prosecuted under the state’s abortion ban. The case will now play out in lower courts. 

“Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is delay,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her opinion. 

Thursday, June 27: A Debate of Fumbles and Misinformation

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump went head-to-head in their first debate.

  • On the issue of abortion, Trump defended state-level abortion bans and claimed that Roe’s overturn was not only heavily supported by the nation, but desired by “every legal scholar throughout the world.” However, 63 percent of U.S. adults say they want abortion to be legal in all or most cases. Trump also demonstrated a misunderstanding of late-term abortion claiming that “they will take the life of a child … even after birth.” In fact, no state allows the execution of a baby after birth.
  • On the issue of childcare, Trump dodged the question. Biden defended his administration’s childcare plan, which failed to pass through Congress, and reiterated his position: “We should significantly increase the child care tax credit. We should significantly increase the availability of women and men or single parents to be able to go back to work, and we should encourage businesses to have child care.”

Friday, June 28: Iowa Supreme Court Approves Six-Week Abortion Ban

The Iowa Supreme Court upheld a law banning abortions at six weeks of pregnancy, before most people even know they are pregnant. In the coming weeks, this ban will replace the state’s current ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The ACLU of Iowa called the decision “a devastating blow to Iowans’ access to essential healthcare.”

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

Abigail Ramirez is an editorial intern for Ms. from Los Angeles. She is a rising senior at the University of Missouri double majoring in constitutional democracy and journalism, with minors in history and political science. She has particular interests in women’s history, advocacy and communications.
Rachel Lonker is an editorial intern for Ms. from the Washington metropolitan area. She is a rising senior at Tulane University, where she majors in political science and communication with a minor in public health. Her areas of interest include reproductive justice, gender-based violence and the criminal justice system.