Keeping Score: New Mexico’s Plan for Free Childcare; U.S. Median Age for Giving Birth Hits 30; Feminists Reckon With Likely Roe Reversal

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: A leaked Supreme Court draft decision would overturn landmark Roe v. Wade ruling; new library program will secure access to “banned books” for teens; Oklahoma Heartbeat Act bans abortion after six weeks; Karine Jean-Pierre appointed first Black White House press secretary; and more.

Our Gilded Progress: ‘Great Gowns,’ Pop Culture and Reproductive Freedoms

This year’s Met Gala invited A-list celebrities in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, racial divides, rising inflation costs, and the widening gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else. 

During this event a leaked draft of the majority opinion from the Supreme Court immediately sent shockwaves, as the public learned that our highest court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to abortion. Suddenly, the extreme wealth on display at the Met Gala seemed to represent all the “gilded” hubris of an historical era that seemed more “golden” than it really was—as we are now thrust back to a dystopian and despairing future we must confront and resist at all costs. 

The Anti-Abortion Movement Has a Long History of Terrorism. A Roe Repeal Will Make It Worse.

For nearly 50 years, as anti-abortion legislators in states around the country have chipped away at the constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion, they have done so with the steady drumbeat of violence at their back. In the face of the recent leak of a draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito that confirmed that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates and providers are bracing for a surge in clinic violence.

May 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

Whether you read for knowledge or leisure, books are so important. May is a big month for new releases by women and writers of historically excluded communities; I’ve highlighted 60 of them here, but there are many more. I hope you’ll find some here that will help you reflect and act in whatever ways you can. 

What Would Alito’s Draft Opinion Mean for Women’s Rights?

The Alito opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson fails to mention how lack of access to abortion might disrupt education, employment or other aspects of women’s lives—giving America a glimpse into a dystopian future where the Constitution would offer no protection for women’s rights because they are not “deeply rooted in the country’s history and traditions.”

If Alito has his way, the police and politicians could very likely once again be searching our bedrooms for those telltale signs of illegal sexual behavior.

SCOTUS Wants Reproductive Rights Left Up to the States—Whose Representatives Are Still Overwhelmingly White and Male

The Supreme Court says it is time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” But state legislatures are overwhelmingly white and male: Women hold just 31 percent of statehouse seats, and only 9 percent are women of color. Rates of women’s representation are much lower in states that will ban abortion if and when Roe is overturned.

Luckily, we know how to transform the demographics of U.S. law-making bodies. We just need the political will.

Why Roe Was Never Enough—and What Comes Next

Late Monday night, a leaked version of the draft of the majority decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was made public. When the final decision is issued, there will no longer be a federally guaranteed right to abortion in America for the first time in nearly 50 years.

What are the democratic dysfunctions that have led to this pivotal point? How should we consider parallel affronts to participation and representation—the wave of voting restrictions and outsize role of big money in politics—and the anti-abortion agenda? Can we look to state courts to provide new avenues for protecting reproductive rights? And what is the legal and societal impact of criminalizing pregnancy and abortion, especially on communities of color?

The Patriarchs’ War on Women

Assaults on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights—and attempts to put women “in their place”—constitute a backlash against feminist progress expanding women’s full inclusion in public life.

As women’s participation becomes more prominent in domestic and international politics, here’s why political sexism and gender policing are also becoming more virulent—and what to do about it.

‘Vagina Obscura’ Author Rachel E. Gross Takes Us on a Daring Anatomical Voyage

Rachel E. Gross, in her debut book Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage, takes us on a journey around “the organs traditionally bound up in baby-making―the uterus, ovaries and vagina,” elaborating both on what science knows, and what it doesn’t. (Did you know it wasn’t until 1993 that a federal mandate required researchers to include women and minorities in clinical research?)

Gross recently spoke to Carli Cutchin by phone from her home in Brooklyn. Thoughtful and erudite, she talked about the female and LGBT researchers who’ve made scientific inroads against the odds, the myth that the “clitoral” and “vaginal” orgasms are distinct from each other, a princess who relocated her clitoris, koala vaginas and much more.