Keeping Score: Kamala Harris Is First VP to Visit Abortion Provider; Fani Willis Can Pursue Racketeering Case Against Trump; Birth Control Access Is Key Election Issue

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.

This week: Alabama ruling endangers IVF; childcare costs are a significant barrier to parents having more children; Beyoncé and Olivia Rodrigo launch new charities; more than 9,000 women have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza; Biden addresses abortion access in the SOTU; new research on gender discrimination in the workplace; Kamala Harris’ visit to Minnesota abortion clinic is the first time a sitting U.S. president or vice president has visited an abortion provider; a judge ruled Fani Willis should not be disqualified from prosecuting the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump; and more.

How the Far Right-Wing Plans to Obliterate More of Our Constitutional Rights

In the last decade, the Convention of State Action (COSA) has become the fastest-growing Article V movement.

COSA advocates are pushing for Congress to call a convention to ratify a number of constitutional amendments which threaten the fabric of our democracy. If states have immediate standing to challenge the constitutionality of any enactments by Congress and the executive branch, the lives of women would be at risk.

Our Abortion Stories: ‘Kate Cox’s Story Is One of Millions That Must Be Shared, and This Is Mine.’

“My husband and I chose the safety and stability of our family over the risks of another pregnancy. We wanted to ensure that my daughter had a mother, and I wanted my husband to have a wife. … As we brace and prepare for potential shifts this year, the power of telling our personal reproductive stories can be a catalyst for change and a beacon of solidarity. I hope that by telling my full story, others will be encouraged to do the same by knowing that they are not alone. ”

Share your abortion story by emailing myabortionstory@msmagazine.com.

Charting the Future of Equal Pay

Today, women workers make 78 cents when compared to men, and 66 cents for Black women, 52 cents for Latinas and 55 cents for Native women. The earnings gap is even larger when the value of benefits, including health and life insurance and performance bonuses, is included in the equation.

Disclosure of pay data by gender and race to the EEOC may pave the way for transparency to the public at large—and much-needed action to close gender and racial pay gaps once and for all. It’s been 60 years. Isn’t that long enough?

(This article originally appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

Biden Takes on Republican-Led Abortion Bans in State of the Union

Biden’s State of the Union forcefully outlined the need for reproductive healthcare access and sounded a three-fold warning to the American people about: the dangers of abortion bans passed by Republican lawmakers at the state level; Republican obstruction in Congress to restore abortion rights at national level; and the federal abortion ban Republicans seek to enact. 

“There are state laws banning the right to choose, criminalizing doctors, and forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states as well to get the care they need,” Biden said in his Thursday night address. “Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God, what freedoms will you take away next?”

Women Deserve Our ‘Menopause Moonshot.’ U.S. Policy Can Help.

Menopause is having its moment, so say daily news headlines. A new essay series in the medical journal The Lancet, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, argues all that hype—combined with “over-medicalization” and reliance on menopausal hormone therapy—harms women by framing menopause as a disease. But, in fact, the real disservice to women is the lack of consideration of menopause in the halls of government.

If we truly want to rise to the so-called moment for menopause, here is a policy agenda that can best serve us.

Beyond the Federal Budget: Hunger, Misogyny and the Absurdity of it All

Extreme House Republicans have been dangling the threat of a government shutdown for months, playing politics with the lives of real people. In addition to being disruptive, wasteful and unnecessary, a government shutdown would have a deep and scarring impact on those facing food insecurity and poverty. This is not a game.

Resistance to safety net programs like the expanded child tax credit, SNAP and WIC is rooted in racist, misogynistic, tired and offensive stereotypes that blame and shame people, rather than help them when they need it most.

Supporting Domestic Violence Survivors Means Protecting Their Options

We can and must aspire to a future in which domestic violence survivors have options beyond the civil and criminal legal systems. But in the meantime, our government leaders must protect the options that do exist.

Those existing options are largely funded by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) which, since its inception in 1984, has supported survivors all over the country by funding services that assist with shelter and housing access, legal representation, counseling and more via the Crime Victims Fund. But with those funds declining over time, so has available VOCA funding. And while the U.S. Department of Justice is working on a solution to this problem, any action they take won’t restart that crucial funding flow to individual states for years.

Federal Judge Rules Against Pregnant Workers in Texas

Texas AG Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration last year over a government funding package that passed largely by proxy votes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding package, passed in December 2022, included the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which protects accommodations for pregnant employees and allows workers to sue employers for failing to do so.

Paxton argued the Constitution requires a physical majority of members to pass legislation. Since a majority voted on the funding package by proxy, Paxton said it was unenforceable. Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas agreed with Paxton’s understanding of a quorum—ruling the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act unenforceable against the state government and its agencies.

The Case for Safe Abortions for Refugee Women

On the eve of International Women’s Day, President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address. Kate Cox, a Texas woman denied access to abortion to terminate an unviable pregnancy that threatened her health, will attend as First Lady Jill Biden’s guest. Cox was able to travel to another state to access a safe abortion. While she should never have been put in that position in the first place, thankfully, she was able to get care.

Globally, options for women who are refugees are often significantly more limited. That’s why Congress must provide increased funding for international family planning programs, without any new restrictions.