The Incarcerated Woman Who Wishes #MeToo Had Arrived Earlier

Celeste Blair landed in prison after a series of abusive relationships. She hopes the #MeToo movement saves younger women from a similar fate.

“They literally degraded me to the point that I felt like I was a convict and nothing more. … I’m hoping my granddaughter and my nieces are living in this new world where a girl has a lot more say.”

The Change Needed to Stop Saddling Young Black and Brown People with Massive Debt

In addition to being sentenced to juvenile hall, many young people are ordered by the court to pay money—otherwise known as restitution. Hefty restitution orders are common and saddle young people and their families with crushing debt, while failing to provide the intended relief to survivors. Restitution also makes it harder for overpoliced communities to break free from the carceral system. If a family cannot pay, parents can be subjected to wage garnishment, tax refund interceptions and property liens—threatening the financial stability of the entire family.

California’s youth restitution system is in dire need of re-imagination so that it can be functional and effective. The REPAIR Act, authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta and backed by Debt Free Justice California, does this by placing crime survivors on a secure pathway to receive accessible and timely funds through a newly formed fund.

Meet Three Women Peace-Builders and Peacekeepers

Three women who challenge traditional gender roles in peace-building and peacekeeping on a daily basis: Anny Modi, Téné Maimouna Zoungrana and Colonel Stephanie Tutton are at the forefront of the humanitarian responses, mobilizing communities, advocating for human rights and the restoration of peace. Their stories testify to their contribution to fostering positive change within peacekeeping operations and demonstrate why we need more women in peace- and political processes and U.N. Peacekeeping.

April 2023 Reads for the Rest of Us

My hope is that each of you reading this column will do some research in your own communities to find out where the threats to the freedom to read lie. Talk to your local school and public librarians. Call your legislators, sign the petitions, run for your local school board, raise hell. 

And also, keep reading. Read the 34 books on this list or whatever else you can get your hands on. Then pass those books on to your friends, your kids, your friends’ kids, or donate them to your libraries and schools.  

The ‘Anti-Life’ Implications of State Abortion Bans

In rural northern Idaho, Bonner General Hospital announced it had made the “difficult decision to discontinue providing obstetrical services.” Although the press release does not use the word “abortion,” there is no doubt it’s calling out the state’s lawmakers for enacting laws that “criminalize physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care.”

Medical providers say they are facing impossible situations that pit their ethical obligation to patients who are dealing with traumatic and dangerous pregnancy complications against the fear of lawsuits, loss of their medical licenses and incarceration.

When Women Are Safe, We Will Finally Be Free

Safety is our most fundamental need, but the U.S. denies it to women—especially women of color. Every attack on our safety stands in the way of our freedom. We need to get serious about the problem with serious policy solutions. 

Securing safety for women is possible. State legislatures across the country are proposing legislation to ensure that people who have committed violence can’t get access to guns, support families who experience domestic violence, improve investigative processes for missing Indigenous people, and fund mental health crisis services.

(This essay is part of The Majority Rules project—an artful essay and op-ed series from Ms. and Supermajority Education Fund.)

Abortion Legal Assistance Network Launched: ‘A Strong Defense Against Bullies’

Six leading reproductive rights organizations formed a new Abortion Defense Network to connect people facing legal threats related to abortion with attorneys who can provide legal advice and representation in civil and criminal proceedings. 

“This initiative brings together some of the best lawyers in the country to provide legal advice, as well as criminal and civil defense. In this daunting post-Roe reality, we want everyone to have legal support and to know their rights.”

Proposed California Law Would Block Digital Surveillance of People Seeking Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

Republicans in multiple states have introduced bills that would allow authorities to criminally prosecute women and pregnant people who have abortions and prosecute parents for obtaining gender-affirming care for their children. Reproductive justice advocates are concerned that police and prosecutors in these states will attempt to find these people using digital dragnet surveillance of their search histories and location data.

On Feb. 14, California Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced Assembly Bill 793 to protect people from unconstitutional searches of their data. “No one should face or fear criminalization for their abortion or gender-affirming care. When we decide to end our pregnancies, we should be able to do so with dignity, and without fear of being arrested, investigated or jailed.”