Abortion Bans Are Sex Discrimination. Here’s How the ERA Can Challenge Restrictions on Abortion

On Jan. 29, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a law banning Medicaid funding for abortion discriminates against women, in violation of the state’s Equal Rights Amendment. The decision overturned a 1985 case saying the ERA did not apply to abortion.

“The Pennsylvania case is so sweeping and strong in the way that it identifies interference with reproductive decision-making as a form of sex discrimination and as part of the historic pattern of oppression of women. It’s really beautiful,” said Susan J. Frietsche, co-executive director of the Women’s Law Project, which filed the case on behalf of Pennsylvania abortion providers.

(This essay is part of “The ERA Is Essential to Democracy” Women & Democracy collection. It also appears in the Spring 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

The Hyde Amendment Continues to Be a Barrier for Accessing Abortion Care

Even in states where abortion is still legally protected, many in need of financial support may not be able to obtain abortion care due to the Hyde Amendment.

This amendment, passed 47 years ago last month, prevents federal funds from being used to cover the cost of abortion services except in very limited circumstances. Many people enrolled in public programs—such as Medicaid—have to pay out-of-pocket for their abortion care.

‘Black Women’s Bodies Have Always Been Under Attack’: Marcela Howell on Reproductive Justice and Why We Must Listen to Black Women

Marcela Howell, an advocate and policy strategist, is retiring after 35 years of advocating for women’s rights and reproductive freedoms. The founder and former president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Howell spoke with Ms.’ Janell Hobson about the current state of affairs, reproductive justice, and why more of us need to listen to Black women.

“If Black women in their full force come out and vote in elections, conservatives lose; their policies lose. If you want to control Black women, you control their bodies, control their votes, control what they learn in school, control their history.”

We Rise in Support of Black Women’s Fundamental Rights

The health of Black women is under constant attack. Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), the nation’s largest independent abortion fund, follows a reproductive justice model and continues to work in marginalized communities across the U.S. to provide abortion funding to providers on behalf of patients.

“We believe equality, equity and autonomy are fundamental rights. We believe every individual should have agency to make decisions about their own life and well-being. We believe governments should not have control over a woman’s body, as it violates their right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity. We believe women should not be relegated to second-class status.”

Keeping Score: Michelle Yeoh Is First Asian to Win Best Actress Oscar; Progress on Male Birth Control; Parenthood Harms Mothers’ Earnings But Benefits Fathers

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: Biden’s new budget excludes Hyde Amendment but protects other abortion coverage bans; Michelle Yeoh becomes first Asian woman to win the Oscar for best actress; Weill Cornell Medicine rolls out research on non-hormonal male birth control alternatives; Jennifer McClellan is the first Black woman elected to represent Virginia in Congress; South Carolina approves an all-male state supreme court; fathers’ salaries benefit from parenthood, while mothers are penalized; Gen Z women have lower salary expectations than men; and more.

Abortion Restrictions Are Racist. Freedom Means Full Access for All, Full Stop.

A Texas case could soon force the FDA to revoke its approval of the abortion pill, mifepristone—a critical lifeline post-Roe and one of two drugs commonly used in a medication abortion, the procedure that currently accounts for more than half of all abortions in the country.

This abortion restriction would impact people of color the hardest. Why? Because abortion restrictions and bans are inherently racist. 

Dobbs’ Effect on Military Women: ‘Our Fighting Force Is Hindered and Our Security Is at Risk’

Forty percent of active-duty service women in the U.S. are stationed in states with abortion bans, as are 43 percent of civilian women working in the military. The time, cost and stress of traveling out of state will no doubt take a tremendous toll not only on women seeking abortion, but on the military itself and national security.

“Women who are active-duty service members do not get to choose what state they live in, which means they could lose abortion access at the whim of any state with an abortion ban.”

A Nation Without the Hyde Amendment Will Be Safer and More Humane for All of Us

On Sept. 30, 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Hyde Amendment, which barred federal funds from covering abortions with the narrowest exceptions for rape, incest or threats to a patient’s life. As soon as Hyde went into effect, the number of Medicaid-covered abortions in the United States dropped from 300,000 to just a few thousand. 

Abortion, like all healthcare, should be a human right—not merely a benefit of select insurance plans. 

War on Women Report: Indiana AG Goes After Dr. Caitlin Bernard, ‘Paints Providers With Violent Lies’; Pro-Abortion House Democrats Arrested

U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism is on the rise, and democracy is on the decline. But day after day, we stay vigilant in our goals to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. The fight is far from over. We are watching, and we refuse to go back.

This week: State lawmakers come for abortion providers; Texas sues the Biden administration over HHS guidance; more than a dozen House Democrats get arrested at an abortion rights rally; The House passes landmark legislation; and more.