Keeping Score: California Schools to Provide Free Period Products; Title X Gag Rule Reversed; Texas Abortion Ban Reinstated

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 in this biweekly round-up.

This week: Biden administration reverses Title X gag rule; federal courts halt, then reinstate Texas’s six-week abortion ban; school districts crack down on BLM and pride flags; Playboy features first gay man on its cover; California overrides workplace NDAs *and* requires free menstrual products in schools; and more.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Kentucky Abortion Ban: “The Right to Abortion Is Hanging by a Thread”

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in one of three abortion cases before the Court this term that will determine the future of abortion rights in the U.S. EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Cameron involves a Kentucky law effectively banning abortion at 15 weeks. The law blocks physicians from providing a medically safe and standard abortion method called dilation and evacuation, or “D&E.”

“Two courts already held that this law violates the rights of Kentuckians. The Supreme Court ought to put an end to the attorney general’s attempts to force people to continue their pregnancies against their will.”

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Texas Abortion Ban: “The Fight Is Far From Over”

On Wednesday, a federal district court in Texas temporarily blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a 113-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin ruled that the law—S.B. 8—is an unconstitutional violation of the right to abortion established by previous Supreme Court cases.

“From the moment SB8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” said Judge Pitman. “This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

106 Restrictions on Abortions Have Become Law This Year. It’s a Record.

More abortion restrictions have been enacted this year than any other, with 19 statehouses passing 106 new limitations on the procedure. A dozen of the new restrictions include some form of a complete ban on abortion. 

This is the first time that the Guttmacher Institute, which has compiled this data annually since 1973, has counted more than 100 abortion restrictions passed in a single year. In 2011, the only other year since 1973 to come close, 89 restrictions on abortion were passed across the country.

Our Favorite Signs From the Women’s March for Reproductive Rights

On Saturday, Oct. 2, tens of thousands of protesters gathered, rallied and marched to express their support for Roe v. Wade and their opposition to a recent onslaught of abortion restrictions.

From Texas to New Jersey to California to D.C., here are some of our favorite signs, marches and protesters who showed up in 650 locations in all 50 states. They paint the picture of a multi-generational, diverse coalition that is dissatisfied with current anti-abortion lawmakers; anxious to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law; and fired up for next year’s midterm elections.

Pressure Mounts for Companies to Stand Against Texas’s Near-Total Abortion Ban: “Time to Get on Board,” Says Cecile Richards

Texas’s S.B. 8. has laid bare the precarious nature of abortion rights. Even still, it’s hard not to notice a relative silence from corporate America. Cecile Ricards, former president of Planned Parenthood from 2006 to 2018 and daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, calls this silence “unthinkable.” 

“This was the moment for corporations, businesses and employers, to stand up on behalf off the people that they employ, the people that they sell products to, and the places where they do business, on an issue like abortion rights, which has been a constitutional right in this country for [nearly] 50 years,” Richards told Ms. “Now in one state, Texas, essentially, that constitutional right effectively no longer exists.”

“Equal Rights May Ring Hollow”: The Precarious State of Abortion Rights

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, federal abortion rights enter a precarious state. States around the country have also set up “trigger laws”—abortion bans—that are ready to go into effect the moment Roe gets overturned. As attacks on abortion rights escalate, federal legislation guaranteeing reproductive rights is needed more than ever.

Danger in the Shadows: Supreme Court Uses Shadow Docket to Threaten Abortion Rights

Reproductive rights—once perceived to be a hallmark of late 20th-century American democracy—may soon give way to conservative states enacting unconstitutional anti-abortion provisions with procedural barriers so thickly and cleverly intertwined that the ability to challenge them may be unattainable, including at the Supreme Court.

The result of the Court’s shadow docket opinion is not just an end, essentially, to the legal right to an abortion in Texas—it sets in motion a workable blueprint for all other conservative state legislatures bent on stripping away abortion rights.