Keeping Score: States Threaten Church-State Separation; Doctors Avoid States With Abortion Bans; N.Y. ERA Will Be on November Ballot

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

“With fear for our democracy, I dissent.”

–Justice Sonia Sotomayor, opposing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Trump presidential immunity case. 

“I put three great Supreme Court justices on the Court and they happened to vote in favor of killing Roe v. Wade and moving it back to the states.”

–Donald Trump at the recent presidential debate.

“I’ve only been called the N word to my face by a white man once in my life and it was on the campus of Duke University while I was doing work with the basketball team. And today he was named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. What a world.”

–Author and Duke alum Halleemah Nash, in reference to Lakers coach JJ Redick.

“This Court had a chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation, and we have squandered it.  And for as long as we refuse to declare what the law requires, pregnant patients in Idaho, Texas, and elsewhere will be paying the price.”

–Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson disagreed with the conservative majority’s decision to send the EMTALA abortion case back to the Appeals Court. 

“What was really at stake was the status of American women, who now have to beg before the courts not to face legally enforced medical negligence that will kill and maim them.”

–Moira Donegan in The Guardian on the EMTALA Supreme Court case.

“This decision fails patients and doctors—and leaves an unacceptable level of uncertainty for women and their health care providers. Even with EMTALA still in place for now in Idaho—Republican abortion bans continue to have a dangerous chilling effect.  Doctors are still forced to contend with dangerous laws on the books that threaten them with prosecution or jail time, making our health care providers either hesitant or altogether unwilling to provide women lifesaving abortion care in these states.”

–Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in response to the EMTALA ruling.

“Kicking the can down the road leaves pregnant people and businesses waiting in a lurch for whatever comes next that may threaten lives and economic well-being. If patients cannot obtain proper reproductive care in the face of medical complications, people, physicians, and businesses in Idaho will continue to flee the state, which will struggle to recruit top talent—ultimately impacting the State’s economy. We are already seeing increased reporting of growing maternity care deserts in the state; these are dangerous to everyone, not just pregnant people.”

–Sarah Johansen, co-author of an amicus brief in the SCOTUS EMTALA case explaining the economic impacts of abortion bans.

“It’s not a coincidence that these truly awful men have targeted abortion medication, specifically. Our ability to end a pregnancy with just a few pills—safely, privately, at home and without shame—was too much for them to take. At least when we went to clinics they could stand outside and call us ‘sluts’. Abortion medication robbed the men who hate us of their most treasured birthright: the ability to degrade women who do things they don’t like.

–“Abortion, Every Day” writer Jessica Valenti

“It’s hard to imagine the nightmare of waking up every day, with a pregnancy you know will end in heartbreak—but being unable to get medical care, unable to grieve, and unable to move forward because politicians won’t let you.”

–Senator Murray (D-Wash.) responding to a new report that shows a 13 percent spike in infant mortality in Texas after their abortion ban went into effect. Deaths due to birth defects increased by 23 percent in Texas, compared to 3 percent nationwide.

“Earlier this year, I visited a clinic that provides reproductive health care with dignity—trusting women to make decisions about their own bodies. To these providers and those across our nation who are on the frontlines of the fight for reproductive freedom, I say: Thank you.”

–Vice President Harris, in conversation with Chrissy Teigen on reproductive freedom for the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe.

“We’re going to put an abortion rights amendment on the ballot in Arizona. We’re going to get it passed. We’re going to make sure Republicans from Donald Trump to Kari Lake all the way down to state legislators and state judges pay a steep political price for stripping away our freedoms.”

—Mari Urbina, managing director of Indivisible and leader of Indivisible’s Battleground, in a statement on the electoral impact of Arizona’s abortion ballot measure campaign.

“I stood up for the right thing. I stood up for women. I stood up for children. I stood up for South Carolina.”

—South Carolina State Sen. Katrina Shealy after losing reelection. Shealy was one of five women who blocked a full abortion ban in the state last year; only one was reelected.


+ The Supreme Court released a spate of new rulings:

  • They agreed that emergency abortion care in Idaho can continue as another appeals process takes place, but refused to rule on the broader question: Does the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) require states with abortion bans to provide abortion care during health emergencies?
  • The Court ruled that Trump has immunity from criminal prosecution for all “official acts” during his presidency. Several of his specific actions, like inciting violence and pressuring state officials to change electoral votes, have been sent to lower courts to review.
  • The Grants Pass ruling now allows cities to enforce laws that criminalize unhoused people sleeping outside, even if they have nowhere else to go.
  • A 6-3 decision found that a federal obstruction law can’t be used to prosecute people involved in the Jan. 6 attack. Over 350 of them have been charged with violating that law, but just 27 are serving prison time on obstruction charges and may need to be resentenced.
  • Their decision to overturn the Chevron doctrine will make it harder for federal agencies to regulate public health, workplace safety, environmental policies and more.
  • Eight justices agreed to ban people with domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning a gun. Only Clarence Thomas dissented.
  • Moore v. U.S. found that taxes on investments are constitutional, paving the way for future policies that tax billionaires on other “unrealized” investments.
  • Finally, the Court agreed to hear a challenge to bills that ban gender-affirming care for minors

+ Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) along with a group of Representatives, introduced a bill to repeal parts of the Comstock Act. Enacted in 1873, Comstock could be weaponized to ban abortion medication and materials from being sent through the mail, restricting access across the country.

+ A Missouri judge dismissed a challenge to the state’s abortion ban from 14 religious leaders across seven denominations. They argued that the ban violated the separation of church and state because lawmakers tried to impose their religious beliefs on the whole state. Judge Jason Sengheiser disagreed, despite a section of the law reading, “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…”

+ A new Louisiana law requires public schools to display a poster of the 10 Commandments in every classroom. Supporters are claiming it’s not just religious, but a prominent part of American history, likely in an attempt to bring a church-state separation case before the Supreme Court.

+ Temecula, Calif., school board president Joseph Komrosky was recalled in a special election, but plans to run again in November. In 2022, a right-wing PAC supported the election of three conservatives, including Komrosky, who took over the Board. They banned pride flags, race-conscious curriculums and a social studies curriculum that mentioned Harvey Milk, who Komrosky called a pedophile. 

+ The New York Equal Rights Amendment will be on the ballot in November, thanks to a state appeals court ruling. If passed, the amendment will ban discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, pregnancy outcomes and more.

The Women’s March in Manhattan on Jan. 18, 2020. (Ira L. Black / Corbis via Getty Images)

+ U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released an advisory on gun violence, declaring it a public health crisis. Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents, and 54 percent of adults report that they or a family member has experienced a firearm-related incident.

+ President Biden pardoned former military members who were convicted under a now-repealed ban on consensual gay sex. “Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves,” Biden said.

+ In South Dakota, polling shows that 53 percent–and 46 percent of Republicans–support a ballot amendment to remove their abortion ban. Only 35 percent of those polled oppose the measure.

+ California is set to return 2,800 acres of ancestral land to the Shasta Indian Nation, the state’s largest ever land return.

+ Snapchat agreed to pay a $15 million settlement to its employees, after a three-year investigation into sexual harassment and gender discrimination allegations. Women were passed over for promotions and faced retaliation when they spoke up about sexual harassment.

+ About half a dozen collective and class action lawsuits have been filed against national employers after the PUMP Act afforded employees the right to sue over lack of accommodations for breastfeeding parents. Some of the major companies include the U.S. Postal Service, McDonalds, Starbucks and Nike.

+ A pro-choice abortion amendment has officially been added to Nevada’s November ballot. The measure comes after Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom collected more than double the 103,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. The signatures have since been verified by the secretary of state’s office.

+ The End Violence Against Children Task Force is inviting people to join their efforts in calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to increase support for essential programs that prevent and respond to violence against children globally in the President’s Budget Request. The request/letter can be found HERE.

+ A lawsuit filed by a conservative group is accusing Northwestern University’s law school of discrimination for prioritizing female and racially diverse job candidates. The Supreme Court overturned affirmative action in college admissions last year, meaning that the suit has the potential to create a domino effect in schools and universities across the country.

+ A case arguing that Texas’s age verification “porn ID” law infringes on constitutionally-protected free speech for adults has been accepted for review by the Supreme Court. The law requires web-based age verification on sites with at least one-third of their content devoted to adult sexual material.

Nineteen states have passed age verification bills, according to a tracker from the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry’s trade group, which is one of the plaintiffs in this Texas case.

+The Iowa Supreme Court ruled to uphold the state’s six-week abortion ban.

“The upholding of this abortion ban in Iowa is an absolute devastation and violation of human rights, depriving Iowans of their bodily autonomy. Abortion is essential health care that needs to be accessible to all. This ban will harm marginalized communities and puts the lives of all pregnant people at risk. We know a ban will not stop the need for abortions,” said Leah Vanden Bosch, development and outreach director for Iowa Abortion Access Fund.

+ The National Abortion Federation will cut its budget to their national hotline in half due to a decrease in funding, despite growing patient need.

+ The Supreme Court has blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Good Neighbor Plan which was designed to protect states from air pollution traveling across state lines. The Court fast-tracked the decision outside of normal procedures in order take the case before lower courts could make a decision.

+ The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases that would protect abortion rights in the state. Both suits challenge a law from 1849 that was interpreted by Republicans as a total abortion ban after Roe was overturned.

The suits come after Wisconsin voters showed their support for abortion rights by electing Justice Janet Protasiewicz to their court, effectively changing the makeup of the court from conservative to liberal.

+ The editorial board at The Houston Chronicle has noted that the Supreme Court’s decision on EMTALA is not a victory for women in Texas. They write that tens of thousands of women have had to leave Texas for abortion care, some with life- and health-threatening conditions:

“Women are suffering. Culture war politics are putting their lives, their health and their fertility at risk. And for now, the high court seems just fine with that. Conservative justices appear content to take the easy, technical, incremental route that staves off controversy but also prolongs harm to women and their families as extremist antiabortion states push boundaries into unconscionable territory.”

+ Kyra Harris Bolden is the youngest and first Black woman to be appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

+ On July 5, 2024 the Kansas Supreme Court struck down several abortion restrictions, reaffirming that the state constitution protects the right to abortion. The Kansas court wrote:

“We stand by our conclusion that section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects a fundamental right to personal autonomy, which includes a pregnant person’s right to terminate a pregnancy.”

+ Nikki Hiltz, a transgender and nonbinary middle-distance runner, qualified for the Paris Games at the Olympic trials on June 30. In doing so, they set a meet-record in the women’s 1500-meter final with a time of 3:55.33.

“This is bigger than just me. It’s the last day of Pride Month, and I wanted to run this one for my community. All the LGBTQ folks, you guys brought me home that last 100. I could just feel the love and support,” Hiltz said to NBC.

How We’re Doing

+ Since the Dobbs decision, Power to Decide’s AbortionFinder website has had more than 8 million visits, with the average monthly clinic searches increasing by 441 percent. Half a million of the visitors were past the abortion time limit in their state, leading them to seek out-of-state options. 

+ More than a third of small business owners report that lack of childcare options is affecting their employees and harming their business. A third have lost revenue because of employees’ childcare issues, and a quarter had to shut down their business because of their own childcare challenges. Seventy-seven percent of owners support increased federal funding for childcare, and 70 percent support expanding the tax credit that helps small businesses that provide childcare benefits. Lost productivity and revenue due to childcare costs the U.S. an estimated $122 billion a year.

+ Two-thirds of C-suite communication roles at Fortune 500 companies are held by women, compared to just 10.4 percent of CEOs and 18.5 percent of CFOs.

+ Gen Z swing voters could play a major role in this year’s elections. In 2020, Biden won the youth vote by 24 percent. But now, Biden’s support among likely voters has decreased to 19 percent. New surveys found that Gen Z swing voters are very focused on the cost of living, healthcare and housing. Many of them get their news from TikTok and other social media sites, and are up to date on current events, but unaware of what President Biden has accomplished during his term.

+ High school girls and nonbinary students who participate in Girls Who Code summer programs are 13 percent more likely to major in a computer science-related field than waitlisted students. Their new report highlights the importance of targeted programs designed for groups historically underrepresented in computer science.

+ Requiring health insurers to cover over-the-counter birth control, like Opill, could expand access to 56.8 million women; 71 percent of voters support requiring over-the-counter contraception coverage.

+ Medical students applying to residency programs are avoiding states with abortion bans. Applications to those states declined by 4.2 percent, compared to 0.6 percent in other states. OB-GYN applications in abortion ban states dropped by 6.7 percent compared to a 0.4 percent increase in states where abortion is legal. States with extreme restrictions face even larger shortages. Missouri, for example, had a 25 percent decrease in OB-GYN residency applications since Dobbs, with Alabama at 21 percent and Louisiana at almost 18 percent.

We’re physicians. We’re supposed to be giving the best evidence-based care to our patients, and we can’t do that if we haven’t been given abortion training,” said former president of the American Medical Student Association Kousalya Siva.

+ There is a 3.4 percent increase in intimate partner violence homicides of women of reproductive age in states with abortion restrictions, new research found. Lead author Dr. Maeve Wallace said, “Restricting access to abortion may have dangerous implications for health and safety. Pregnancy can be an added stressor in relationships, and intimate partner violence can start during pregnancy or even increase in severity during pregnancy. It’s important that abortion is an option available to everyone who may want to end a pregnancy, especially people in violent situations where continuing a pregnancy may increase their risk of being killed.”

+ College-educated women now outnumber college-educated men in the workforce, but women’s wages still lag behind. Women make up almost 60 percent of college students, but are more likely to enter low-paying fields, face bias and discrimination in their education and workplaces and have their career impacted by caregiving responsibilities.

Students listen to a lecture in Dr. Michon Bensons African American Literature class at Texas Southern University on Sept. 7, 2023 in Houston. (Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)

+ Median CEO earnings rose almost 13 percent last year, while their workers’ wages rose just 4 percent. At half of the companies surveyed, someone at the middle of the pay structure would need 200 years to make what their CEO did last year.

+ More than 80 percent of men of color believe abortion access is an important part of their decision on who to vote for

“Black communities experience some of the most significant disparities in our healthcare and political systems. That’s why it’s crucial for us to stand against political interference in health care decisions. Building political power for abortion access requires all of us, including Black men. Together, we have the power through our votes to champion people’s freedom over their lives and make it clear that this issue impacts all of us,” explained Darryl Banks, Co-founder of P68

+ Over 80 percent of Americans, including 58 percent of conservatives, believe abortion care should be legal. A majority understand that abortion bans don’t work, and that patients and their doctors, not politicians, should be making decisions on abortion.

+  A new investigation published by Reuters uncovered 30 complaints of child sexual abuse material on the subscriber site OnlyFans in the past five years. The company, led by CEO Keily Blair, stated in response: “OnlyFans is proud of the work we do to aggressively target, report and support the investigations and prosecutions of anyone who seeks to abuse our platform in this way.”

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.