For nearly 50 years, as anti-abortion legislators in states around the country have chipped away at the constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion, they have done so with the steady drumbeat of violence at their back. In the face of the recent leak of a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito that confirmed that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates and providers are bracing for a surge in clinic violence.
It’s been women’s progress—the right to vote, to own property, for reproductive rights and for civil rights for all people—that has led to an expansion of democracy globally in the 20th century. We must be prepared for what is nothing less than major battles for the survival and advancement of women’s rights—and our very democracy.
In the Spring issue of Ms., we examine the backlash against feminist progress in the U.S.—from increasing restrictions on abortions at the state level, to restrictions on voting rights, to attacks on LGBTQ rights, and more.
In the midst of a news cycle that’s largely been dominated by bad news, this week we were elated to celebrate the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court—making her the first Black woman to ever serve on the nation’s highest court when Justice Breyer officially steps down this summer.
But the Supreme Court nevertheless remains dominated by a 6-3 right-wing majority that appears likely to overturn—if not at least severely gut—the Roe v. Wade decision that 50 years ago established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.
Republican senators questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s qualifications during her confirmation hearings last week—with some implying that empathy and personal experience should not factor in to judgements. But the truth is, the Supreme Court’s decisions have always been informed by the justice’s identities.
This week, we celebrated the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was included with the fiscal year appropriations package approved by Congress. VAWA is a crucial support for women across the country experiencing violence, more so than ever in this current moment. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its economic stressors and repeated lockdowns, has compounded domestic violence problems, leading advocates to name it a “shadow pandemic.”
After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators announced Wednesday that they had reached a deal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)—which has been expired since December 2018.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which is stuck in a tug-of-war with the U.S. archivist and the Senate, would provide the basis for Congress to enact stronger laws on gender violence, including restoring the civil rights remedy in VAWA.
In a few short months, we face the likelihood the Supreme Court will overturn Roe. Already, 2021 was the worst year for abortion rights in half a century. In Texas, abortion has already been virtually outlawed for almost five months. And now the Supreme Court has issued yet another decision that will ensure S.B. 8 will remain the law in Texas for months to come.
The silver lining of this fraught era for reproductive rights seems to be that a large swath of Americans who oppose overturning Roe v. Wade will be motivated to vote in the midterm elections this fall. Polls show that abortion is increasingly becoming a decisive factor for voters—particularly young women voters.
January 22 marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. But it may very well be its last. In a few short months, we face the likelihood the Supreme Court will overturn Roe, endangering abortion access nationwide.
In the Winter issue of Ms., we delve deep into the current state of abortion access and rights in America. We make the case that abortion is essential to democracy. We relaunch a historic Ms. campaign from 1972: “We have had abortions.” And we examine how to ensure our rights are protected—reminding you that without the Equal Rights Amendment, women still do not have full constitutional equality!
We have a lot to think about on the one-year remembrance of January 6th—a day that showed us we cannot let our guard down, even for one instant.