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.

So Goes Reproductive Freedom, So Goes Democracy

When people consider what it means to be a democracy on the decline, plot points of the recent film Civil War come to mind: a U.S. president who disregards the Constitution to nab a third term. Crackdowns on dissent and the media. Leaders using the military to break up public demonstrations.

While that is, of course, representative of growing authoritarianism, recent history suggests that rollbacks on bodily autonomy and reproductive freedoms are also flashing red lights for would-be regimes. 

Keeping Score: Right-Wing Activists Spread Disinformation on Birth Control; Larry Nassar’s Survivors Reach $138.7 Million Settlement; Breast Cancer Screenings Should Start at Age 40

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: the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on emergency abortion care and criminalizing homelessness; new EEOC and Title IX regulations protect sexual violence survivors, pregnant people and the LGBTQ community; Arizona repealed their 1864 abortion ban, while Florida now has a six-week ban; birth control misinformation goes viral on TikTok; the United Methodist Church repealed their ban on LGBTQ clergy; the chilling effects of the global gag rule; three in five Americans support a national law protecting access to medication abortion; and more.

The Arizona Abortion Ban Case Shows What ‘Let the States Decide’ Really Means

The Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling that reinstated a draconian 1864 near-total abortion ban reveals the disingenuous nature of the “leave-it-to-the-states” positioning of some Republicans.

In response to the state Supreme Court’s decision, Democrats spearheaded legislation to repeal that law, which was recently signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs (D). However, leaving it to the states doesn’t always have such a rosy ending—and, indeed, this is not the end of efforts in Arizona or elsewhere by special interests trying to impose their regressive worldview on us all through law. A closer look into the Arizona abortion case and court that led to the reprise of this antiquated anti-abortion law reveals that some of the same anti-abortion zealots who played a central role in overturning Roe are also playing a role in revoking Arizonians’ access to abortion healthcare.

Menopause in Three Parts: Where Rivers Flow, Split and Unravel

When Rivers Flow: “Menstrual blood came with its own set of messages, whispers from my womb space that only I could decode. It was like embarking on a treasure hunt within myself, armed with nothing but a compass made of intuition and a hefty dose of trial and error. Creating my own map of this internal landscape wasn’t easy. I had to channel my inner cartographer and chart new territories with each cycle.”

When Rivers Split: “There was something special about a bunch of Black women who had already been where I was calling me with joy in their voices. … forming a kinship with our wombs is about learning to love ourselves, to treat ourselves with the same grace, kindness and high regard that the world demands of us as Black people with wombs.”

When Rivers Unravel: “Menopause would be that queer initiation, that modern-day rite of passage I had so longed for. And it would come at a price. My transition initiated a second puberty that changed everything about my body. This rite of passage pried off the mask of societal expectations I had inherited from my foremothers. Menopause set the mask on fire.”

The Best Autistic and Autistic-Coded Characters in Animation

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for Ms. about Hollywood’s blatant and continued exclusion of Autistic people, as well as the ableist tropes film and TV have continued to push in its depiction of Autism. Since the article was published, I have seen more positive strides taken in terms of Autism representation in the media, with many of those strides coming from the world of animation.

As we wind down World Autism Month, here are some of my favorite Autistic and Autistic-coded characters in animation.

War on Women Report: Anti-Abortion Activists Desperate to Keep Abortion Off 2024 Ballot; NAIA Bars Trans Women From Competing

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 is the War on Women Report.

Since our last report: Missouri anti-abortion activists try to trick voters out of supporting a ballot measure to protect abortion rights; 70 percent of school shooters committed violence against women before or during their attacks; Connecticut may join Maine, Texas, California and New York in adopting coerced debt protections; Fox News spent only 12 minutes covering a ruling from the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court reviving a 160-year-old state law that bans abortion; and more.

Ms Global: Thailand on Track to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Denmark Mandates Military Service for Women and More

The U.S. ranks as the 19th most dangerous country for women, 11th in maternal mortality, 30th in closing the gender pay gap, 75th in women’s political representation, and painfully lacks paid family leave and equal access to health care. But Ms. has always understood: Feminist movements around the world hold answers to some of the U.S.’s most intractable problems. Ms. Global is taking note of feminists worldwide.

This week: news from Hong Kong, Mexico, Denmark and more.