Keeping Score: Women’s Basketball Reaches New Heights; France Protects Abortion, While Florida Tightens Its Ban

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: Women’s college basketball smashed viewership records; France passed a constitutional amendment protecting abortion; Florida will soon have a six-week abortion ban; Beyoncé makes history on the country album charts; IWMF honors Palestinian journalist Samar Abu Elouf; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) managed to include $1 billion for childcare in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills; federal employees will soon have access to insurance plans that cover fertility services; President Biden announced a new plan to cancel student debt; the Supreme Court allowed Idaho to maintain its ban on gender-affirming care for minors; and more.

A Comedian in the War on Abortion: The Ms. Q&A with Lizz Winstead and Ruth Leitman

Lizz Winstead, comedian and founder of Abortion Access Front, teamed up with director Ruth Leitman to create the hilarious, heart-filled documentary No One Asked You.

“There’s nothing shameful about needing to have an abortion,” Winstead told Ms.

“It’s a medical procedure that people need to help them achieve their life goals, and to help them have the life that they want to have,” said Leitman.

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.”

Meet the Republican Attorneys General Wreaking Havoc on Abortion Access 

Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) is a veritable legal army of far-right attorneys general. RAGA-member AGs have been especially active in pushing for and enforcing oppressive abortion bans, and are working to fulfill anti-abortion power broker Leonard Leo’s extreme agenda.

Several attorneys general have been especially active in attempting to impose their personal beliefs about abortion on all Americans: Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

Trump’s Abortion Position, Explained

Donald Trump on Monday said he believes abortion should be left to the states. Sidestepping formally endorsing a nationwide ban, the former president’s announcement is already being perceived by some as an attempt to strike a compromise position on a top issue for women voters.

Here’s what Trump’s leave-it-to-the-states abortion position would look like in practice—according to anti-abortion leaders, reproductive rights experts, and Trump himself. In short, it leaves people in abortion states suffering consequences of extreme bans imposed in the wake of the Dobbs decision, and would leave his presidency multiple avenues to highly restrict abortion access nationwide.

Advocates Ask Supreme Court to Overturn Dobbs, Citing ‘Tragic Consequences’

On March 29, the Pennsylvania-based Women’s Law Project filed the first-ever amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that reversed Roe v. Wade. The brief argued that Dobbs is “unworkable” because the decision has “subjected people in need of reproductive healthcare to immense suffering and grave danger” and has “ushered in an era of unprecedented legal and doctrinal chaos.”

“It is vitally important to challenge Dobbs at every turn and send a signal that it is not set in stone,” said David Cohen, a constitutional law professor at Drexel Kline School of Law and co-author of the brief. “We will not rest until this terrible decision is overturned.”

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?  

Supreme Court to Hear Two Key Cases on Abortion Access

Rather than being done with the issue of abortion, the Supreme Court has taken up two cases this term that could have further disastrous effects on abortion access. One case could lead to limits on access to one of the two drugs used for medication abortion, and the other could allow states to ban emergency abortion care to save a patient’s life.

Decisions in both cases would have effects nationwide—illustrating the chaos and confusion that the Dobbs decision has created for providers and patients.