When Is a Threat a Threat?: A Forthcoming SCOTUS Ruling Could Have a Sweeping Impact on Gender-Based Violence

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on April 19 in a case that could have a sweeping impact on the ability of victims of stalking, verbal abuse and online harassment to be protected from their abusers.

In the case, Counterman v. Colorado, the Court appeared willing to increase the threshold for identifying speech that rises to the level of a “true threat” and ignore the collateral damage of protecting harassers—which will have devastating consequences for victims of abuse.

Why a Global Treaty Would Help End Violence Against Women and Girls

Ms. contributor Michelle Onello and co-founder of Every Woman Treaty, Lisa Shannon, discuss the causes and consequences of the recent rise in violence against women and girls, why a global treaty is necessary to meet their needs worldwide, and the prospects for moving forward with a treaty in the current political climate.

“In the absence of a global framework, we are allowing generations of frontline women’s rights activists to be stalked, harassed, beaten, murdered and chased out of their countries and forced to live in exile.”

U.S. Overturn of Roe Will Embolden Anti-Abortion Movements Abroad

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ruled that there is no U.S. constitutional right to abortion, will have ripple effects around the world. It will embolden anti-abortion movements abroad, contribute to global stigmatization of abortion, cause confusion for policy implementation and open the door for new restrictions—all of which will negatively impact the health, economic resources and well-being of women throughout the world.  

The Fight to Secure U.S. Abortion Rights Is Global

Overturning Roe v. Wade will unleash devastating rollbacks on abortion across the United States, while also impacting U.S. foreign policy. Already, the Helms Amendment, Siljander Amendment, global gag rule and other restrictions form a collective—and deadly—U.S. foreign policy package that has had disastrous impacts on global health, including an increase in maternal mortality, unsafe abortions and HIV infections, as well as a decline in the overall quality of healthcare.

While the forthcoming decision, and its catastrophic fallout, is not likely to have an immediate global impact, it will undercut efforts to remove these restrictions and embolden the anti-abortion lobby to further instrumentalize U.S. foreign policy to promote its ideology.

Melissa Lucio Granted a Stay of Execution in Texas

Melissa Lucio, who was set to be executed for the death of her 2-year old daughter Mariah, was granted a stay of execution and a new hearing on Monday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court ordered a new hearing to consider whether her conviction was based on an unreliable false confession which Lucio, a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, offered in response to threatening, hostile questioning by investigators.

“The court’s decision paves the way for Melissa to present evidence of her innocence that should have been heard by the jury that condemned her to death 14 years ago,” said Professor Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and one of Lucio’s attorneys.

Bipartisan Group Urges Reconsideration of Melissa Lucio’s Death Sentence

The state of Texas plans to put Melissa Lucio to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, April 27, which would make her the sixth woman executed in the U.S. in the last decade and the first Hispanic woman in Texas history.

But new evidence of Lucio’s interrogation reveals how unlikely it is that she is guilty—which is why a bipartisan group of Texas state lawmakers is asking authorities to reconsider the scheduled execution. They join hundreds of other Texans—including 225 anti-domestic violence groups, 130 faith leaders and 30 Latino organizations—in urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to grant Lucio a reprieve.

Celebrating the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act: A Conversation with Rep. Jackie Speier

Last week, President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation included in the fiscal year appropriations package. Two of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)’s bills were included in the VAWA reauthorization: a bill closing the law enforcement consent loophole, and another requiring climate surveys for college and university students to assess efforts to address sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence.

Speier, first elected to Congress in 2008, has announced that she will not seek reelection in November. She sat down with Ms. contributor Michelle Onello to discuss the improved VAWA and its critical importance for women, as well as her plans after she retires from Congress. 

Texas Set to Execute Melissa Lucio Despite Credible Claims of Innocence

Texas plans to put Melissa Lucio to death on April 27, which would make her the sixth woman executed in the U.S. in the last decade and the first Hispanic woman in Texas history. Lucio was convicted of murder in 2008 for the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, which she and her family claim was instead a tragic accident. Her attorneys are fighting to overturn her conviction and set aside her execution date based on her continued innocence claims and other procedural issues.

“Research shows prosecutors frequently trivialize women’s experiences as victims of gender-based violence when they are charged with crimes,” said Sandra Babcock, director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and one of Lucio’s attorneys. “Yet Melissa was a victim long before she was a defendant.”

U.S. Military’s Male-Dominated Culture Harms More Than Just Women

Major gender gaps persist in the U.S. armed forces, negatively impacting operational effectiveness, military culture and compliance with international law, according to a report released by the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.

To ensure women’s meaningful participation, the report suggests that women must be promoted to leadership positions and their input must be valued. To do so, the military must adopt better and more complete childcare and parental leave policies and decouple physical fitness standards from advancement.