It’s Been a Year Since Catherine Kassenoff’s Assisted Suicide. Has Anything Changed in Family Court?

After she lost custody of her three daughters in a divorce proceeding that labeled her behavior “harmful” and unhinged, Catherine Kassenoff decided to end her life in a Swiss assisted suicide facility on May 27, 2023.

“She couldn’t live without her children and the court was saying she couldn’t live with her children,” said Wayne Baker, the executor of Kassenoff’s estate, “so where did that leave her?”

Many in the family court reform movement thought the dramatic death of an astute legal mind like Catherine—who still couldn’t win in our backward system—would finally mark a watershed for reform. One year later, what has changed?

Texas Supreme Court Considers Taking Up Question of Whether Frozen Embryos Are People

The Texas Supreme Court is considering whether to take up a case that could have Alabama-esque impacts on in vitro fertilization in Texas.

What began as a Denton divorce has grown into a larger battle over whether a frozen embryo can be defined as a person. The court has not yet said whether it will take up the case, which centers on three frozen embryos created by Caroline and Gaby Antoun.

Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos qualify as people under the state’s wrongful death statute, leading fertility clinics to halt their work until the legislature stepped in and granted temporary protections. While the details are different, legal experts and fertility doctors say the results of this Texas case could be similar.

The Hypocrisy of a Post-Roe Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day—like the countless that have come before it—conservative politicians who fancy themselves members of the party that upholds “family values” will send out social media posts praising the moms among us. They’ll wax poetic about the “decision” to become a mother and how it’s the “most selfless, most important job in the world.” Some may even go so far as to task their speech writers with crafting some moving message about how vital mothers are; how we’re raising the next generation of prolific thinkers and world leaders; how we should be revered “not just today, but every day.” 

And in the post-Roe world they created with their anti-abortion policies that have forced people into motherhood, attacked IVF and fertility treatments, and left doctors terrified to treat pregnant patients to the point that women are slipping into comas, miscarrying in hospital lobby bathrooms and enduring unnecessary C-sections instead of receiving common abortion care, it will all be one big, giant pile of bullshit.

Elder Care Law Is Not Designed for Working Mothers in the Sandwich Generation

Being a working mom of children doing virtual school during the pandemic, also in the middle of a graduate degree, and suddenly caring for a delusional and aggressive senior parent, while being forced to educate every single business on what guardianship legally appointed me to do was overwhelming.

Why do businesses expect a senior citizen diagnosed with an irreversible disease of the mind to make financial or health decisions? Why wasn’t the court order enough? Because a woman with legal power isn’t enough. 

Working mothers and adult daughters who make up the majority of the sandwich generation need the ability to also care for their own mental and physical well-being to avoid burnout. 

America Needs Bethenny Frankel’s Divorce Podcast

“Finally.” That’s what Emma thought when she heard Bethenny Frankel spill the beans about her epic split on her new Just B Divorced podcast. Finally, someone was validating what millions of women go through silently behind divorce court doors. The Real Housewives of New York alum has millions of fans and a multi-million dollar business empire. In the show’s first two episodes, Frankel took listeners behind the scenes of the “torture” she endured during a 10-year divorce for a two-year marriage.

But following her mother’s death, Frankel announced that she was putting the new pod on hold and the episodes disappeared.

Taylor Swift, Underdog Voices, and Women’s Historical Right to ‘Bolt’

“The Bolter,” in Taylor Swift’s eyes, is a woman who does not fit traditional society. Swift gives the bolter a voice—one that until now had been silent. She’s a woman not interested in being a trophy wife for the masses to admire. She has her own desires, preferences and demands, but her hopes and dreams are stifled by the rules that others want her to play by. She is unwilling to give of herself to play this role.  

The Tradwife’s Catch-22

How is it that an independent business executive goes from a full-time position in the C-suite to a full-time position in the kitchen, out of submissive devotion to her husband? If you’ve recently spent time on TikTok or Instagram, you may have wrestled with this question.

Tradwife influencers are right to point out the emptiness, precarity and dissatisfaction of neoliberal life, and the appeal of the alternative they offer is clear. But much of the rosy picture they paint exists only on our iPhones and not in reality. Domestic labor is neither slow nor peaceful.

Arizona’s 1864 Abortion Law Was Made in a Women’s Rights Desert. Here’s What Life Was Like Then.

In 1864, Arizona—which was an official territory of the United States—was a vast desert. Women in Arizona could not vote, serve on juries or exercise full control over property in a marriage. They had no direct say in laws governing their bodies. Hispanic and African American women had even fewer rights than white women.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on April 9, 2024, that a 160-year-old abortion ban passed during this territorial period will go into effect. Since that ruling, the Arizona legislature has been grappling with how to handle the near-total ban. Even if the ban is fully repealed, it could still take temporary effect this summer.

As someone who teaches history in Arizona and researches slavery, I think it is useful to understand what life was like in Arizona when this abortion ban was in force.

The Arizona Abortion Fight Is a Reminder That Progress Is Not Linear

April’s U.S. political news admittedly brought many horrors—from Alabama legislators advancing a bill to define sex based on “reproductive systems,” not gender identity; to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing an Idaho ban on gender-affirming care for minors to take effect; to the Arizona Supreme Court upholding an abortion ban from 1864, which opens the door to criminalizing health providers with up to five years of prison time if they provide abortion services. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero called the ruling “a huge step backwards.”

Legal changes in the present may appear to be reversing earlier advancements, as Romero said. But advocates of equity need a better grasp of history so they are realistic about the intermittent successes of movements for social change. The fight for full gender equality is a long game.

Virginia Becomes the First State in the South to End Child Marriage

Virginia became the 12th U.S. state and first in the South to end child marriage last week, after Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed HB 994 into law. The law completely ends child marriage in the state by establishing a minimum marriage age of 18 without exceptions and removes a legal loophole that previously allowed emancipated minors to marry in Virginia. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Child marriage has been shown to result in increased risk of future poverty, particularly for teen moms, as well as greater vulnerability to sexual and domestic violence, human trafficking, coercive control, financial abuse, homelessness and mental illness.