The Arizona Supreme Court Winds Back the Clock to 1864: ‘The Eyes of the World Are Watching’

The Arizona Supreme Court revived an 1864 pre-statehood ban on abortion (although the law will not go into effect immediately).

To quote the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the way of thinking embedded in these zombie laws from the 19th century reflects “ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution, ideas that have long since been discredited.” The Arizona Supreme Court does not expressly traffic in these deeply gendered stereotypes that are contemporaneous with the abortion ban it has resurrected from the dead—but they are silently lurking in the margins of the opinion.  

As Attorney General Mayes put it, the decision is “unconscionable and an affront to freedom… and will go down as a stain on our state.”

The Comstock Act Is a Backdoor Approach to a National Abortion Ban—And Justices Alito and Thomas Are Interested

A general consensus seems to have emerged after last week’s oral arguments in the case against the abortion pill that the Supreme Court is likely to rule that the anti-abortion physicians and their umbrella group, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, lack sufficient legal grounds to challenge the FDA’s loosening of restrictions on mifepristone.

While dismissal based on a lack of standing would be a welcome result, it is not a guarantee given the Court’s anti-abortion supermajority. But even if this occurs, the apparent zest manifested by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas towards the Comstock Act from 1873 brings a lurking danger fully out into the open. 

As U.S. Faces a Rising Tide of Abortion Bans and Restrictions, France Enshrines Freedom of Access in the Constitution

In 2023, seeking “to avoid a U.S.-like scenario for women in France, as hard-right groups are gaining ground,” President Emmanuel Macron promised a constitutional amendment affirming women’s right to abortion and to control over their own bodies. The amendment subsequently passed by a crushing majority of 780 to 72 votes and was inserted ceremoniously into the French Constitution on March 8, 2024, International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile in 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade that held abortion as a protected right under the United States Constitution

How do we explain the radically different trajectories on this critical dimension of women’s rights between two countries with strong feminist and anti-abortion movements that decriminalized abortion within a few years of one another?  

Seeing Fetal ‘People’ Everywhere: What Has ‘Dobbs’ Wrought?

The anti-abortion movement moved a step closer to realizing its goal of achieving fetal personhood when the Alabama Supreme Court held that frozen embryos are children for purposes of the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. However, the 8-1 ruling is a victory with a discernable twist. Republican lawmakers and their allies are now scrambling since at least three Alabama IVF providers have suspended their family-building services while they sort out the ruling’s implications.

The Anti-Gay, Anti-Trans and Anti-Abortion Groups Behind Those ‘He Gets Us’ Super Bowl Commercials

Before the news cycle moves on, we must discuss the right-wing He Gets Us campaign’s two religious ads during the Super Bowl, which highlighted that “Jesus loved and cared for anyone and everyone” and which the Washington Post voted “the most controversial” of the game.

This claim of love and acceptance is directly undercut by the campaign’s connections to far-right anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups.

Arizona’s Near-Total Abortion Ban from 1860s Can Take Effect, Rules State Supreme Court

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled to let a law banning almost all abortions in the state go into effect. The justices ordered the state to wait 14 days before beginning to enforce the ban, to give advocates time to ask a lower court to pause it again.

Voters may be able to weigh in on the issue this November: Last week, Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition of abortion rights organizations, announced it had gathered enough signatures for a ballot measure that would ask voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s Constitution.

Texas *Still* Wants to Trap Abortion Seekers

On Oct. 23, three male Lubbock County commissioners approved an abortion trafficking ordinance making it unlawful to transport anyone seeking an abortion through the unincorporated area of Lubbock County—all thanks to tireless crusader Mark Lee Dickson, director of East Texas Right to Life and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, who is pushing to bring about the day when “abortion is considered a great moral, social and political wrong and is outlawed in every single state.”

Even Justice Brett Kavanaugh—certainly no fan of Roe—expressed the view in his concurring opinion in Dobbs that a state cannot bar its residents from cross-border abortion travel.

‘Comstocked’: How Extremists Are Exploiting a Victorian-Era Law To Deny Abortion Access

In June 2019, the all-male city council in Waskom, Texas, unanimously voted to make the tiny town of just 2,000 residents the nation’s first “sanctuary city for the unborn.” Characterizing fetuses as the “most innocent among us [who] deserve equal protection under the law,” the ordinance expressly bans abortion within its municipal boundaries. The man behind the ban, anti-abortion zealot and pastor Mark Lee Dickson, has since expanded his campaign to outlaw abortion “one city at a time” into at least six other states.

(This article originally appears in the Fall 2023 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

‘Babies Are Good. More Babies Are Better’: Pro-Natalism Takes Center Stage in Austin

On Dec. 1, 2023, the Natal Conference will be held in Austin, Texas. Promising to gather the “brightest minds in the world,” the conference is aimed at turning around the world’s “shrinking population,” which represents “the greatest population bust in human history.” The meeting will solidify links between the far right and right-wing influencers. Fiercely anti-feminist speakers will join them.

“It’s not surprising to see far-right folks, eugenicist types and white nationalists joining forces at a conference like this,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project on Hate and Extremism. “They have become bedfellows.’”