To Defend Democracy, We Must Protect Bodily Autonomy

It is no coincidence that at the same moment U.S. democracy is facing existential threats, we are also witnessing profound assaults not only on the body politic but on our bodily autonomy. 

One of the biggest threats to the consolidation of power is an empowered and engaged populace—particularly women, the LGBTQ community and people of color. Which is why anti-democratic leaders are doing all they can to limit and curtail the power of these communities. This moment requires progressive and pro-democracy funders to understand the attacks to reproductive freedom, LGBTQ liberation, and racial justice not as distinct or disparate—but as central to the attacks to our democracy itself, and to fund accordingly.

We Must Stop Catholic Hospitals From Closing More Labor and Delivery Units

When I became a registered nurse two decades ago, I chose to work at my local Catholic hospital: Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas. This Mother’s Day provides a bleak reminder of the stark contrast between my Catholic employer’s public image and the reality inside its hospitals.

Ascension is one of the largest and wealthiest nonprofit and Catholic hospital systems in the United States. Ascension cut a quarter of its labor and delivery units, just in the last decade.

The Catholic health ministry boasts the mission of giving “special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.” Act like it.

If Sex Ed Isn’t Critical, Can We Really Call It Comprehensive?

“Comprehensive sex education” has become a lightning rod for controversy, igniting moral panic around young people learning about gender theory, sexuality, safe sex, abortion care and more. But my experience designing sex education programs has taught me that “comprehensive” sex education isn’t comprehensive enough. What’s missing is a critical approach to sexual education that examines the political, cultural and economic factors shaping sexual decisions and health. 

Women’s Rights Are Essential to Democracy. Why Do Philanthropists Treat Investments in Women as a Special Interest?

In the last two months, the Supreme Court heard two case to limit nationwide access to abortion care. The chaotic state of play for abortion rights in the United States illustrates the consequences of failing to integrate efforts to strengthen democracy into strategies for advancing gender equity and vice versa.

For philanthropic leaders, the twin goals of strengthening democracy and advancing gender equity presents a compelling case for simultaneous investment. Divorcing gender justice from democracy is inconsistent ideologically, and it’s also irrational and unnecessarily expensive. To separate them is to delay success and pay for it many times over. 

The Terrifying Global Reach of the American Anti-Abortion Movement

When performed properly, abortion is considered extremely safe. But nearly half—45 percent—of the 73 million abortions performed worldwide each year are unsafe.

One big reason: American anti-abortion policies.

For decades, the U.S. has used the power of the purse to force poorer nations to abide by the anti-abortion values of American conservatives or forgo aid for family planning and other healthcare—giving women around the globe no alternative but to seek backstreet abortions that send some to emergency rooms and others to their graves.

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?  

A Thousand Little Moments: The Insidious Loss of Women’s Freedom to Christian Nationalism

Leaving a toxic marriage also meant temporarily abandoning my dream of motherhood. I grieve the loss of the future I imagined. Perhaps one day, I will have my own baby who will know how much she was wanted and loved. That dream is deferred. But the dream is altogether shattered for many women, in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are considered children. Republicans cannot ignore their role in this devastating turn.

Women are losing both the right to end unwanted or dangerous pregnancies and the right to become pregnant. The common factor is the loss of women’s choice. If our country’s concept of family stability relies on depriving women of their choices, we do not have stable families; we have prisoners.

Students Sue Hillsdale College for Inadequate Response to Sexual Assaults, Testing the Limits of Title IX

Two students have filed a federal class-action lawsuit accusing Hillsdale College, a small but influential religious institution in rural Michigan, of failing to establish and enforce proper policies for preventing and responding to sexual assaults, thereby creating a hostile educational environment and exposing students to a high risk of sexual assault.

While Hillsdale boasts of its adherence to conservative Christian values and the safety of its campus, the students claim the college conducts inadequate sexual assault investigations without transparency or accountability, issues arbitrary decisions, and silences and blames survivors. 

Punish, Torture, Kill: The Reality of Pregnancy in ‘Pro-Life’ America

In Ohio, a grand jury is deciding whether to charge Brittany Watts—a woman who went to the hospital twice for care when she was miscarrying, was sent home twice, and miscarried in her bathroom. She could face jail time for “abuse of a corpse,” because fetal parts were found clogged in her toilet. Watts’ case is a chilling preview of what could come: Miscarriage criminalized in myriad ways. And now, the Fifth Circuit is holding that emergency rooms do not have to provide life-saving abortions—further ensuring that women with dangerous miscarriages will simply be sent home and left to manage on their own.

At the heart of the ‘pro-life’ movement is the idea that women are put on this earth for subservience. And so this is the plan: Force women to carry pregnancies against their will.

Our Abortion Stories: ‘There Were No Resources Available to Make Choosing to Be a Single Mom a Sane Choice’

Abortions are sought by a wide range of people for many different reasons. There is no single story. Telling stories of then and now shows how critical abortion has been and continues to be for women and girls. (Share your abortion story by emailing myabortionstory@msmagazine.com.)

“I made a decision that deeply challenged my ‘values,’ yet was absolutely the most ethical and moral choice I could make.”

“I realized that I wasn’t the only one going through this, even though abortion stigma can oftentimes make us feel that way. … Your abortion is not a taboo or a deep, dark secret; abortion is healthcare.”