Keeping Score: CEO of the NRA Resigns; Texas Lawyers Call on Texas Medical Board for Abortion Guidance; Two Pending Abortion Supreme Court Cases

Gun Rights

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.

Lest We Forget

“For 54 years they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it and I’m proud to have done it. We did something that was a miracle.” 

Donald Trump, at a Fox News town hall.

Other people’s beliefs are not license to discriminate, to deny essential care, or force people into life-threatening situations. As politicians work harder than ever before to take away our bodily autonomy, we must continue demanding bold action from our elected leaders and fighting until every person in this country is able to get the healthcare they need.”

—Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, after the Biden administration partially repealed a Trump-era rule allowing healthcare workers to deny patients based on religious or moral beliefs.

“What happened to Brittany Watts is a grave example of how Black women and their bodies face legal threats simply for existing. No one’s pregnancy should ever be criminalized. Brittany’s painful story, which should have never even been made public, reveals what so many Black women have to contend with in the medical system. Abortion restrictions directly lead to inadequate reproductive health care, resulting in traumatic pregnancy and birth experiences.”

—Dr. Regina Davis Moss, In Our Own Voice president and CEO

“If a child came into the ER and was having kidney failure, no hospital would require that his mother donate one of her kidneys to him. Hospitals don’t require that a parent donate blood to their child. They don’t require that a parent who dies in a tragic accident donate their organs to a surviving but in-need child, or to anyone at all. It is only pregnant woman who are consigned to a special, sub-standard category of person not entitled to a standard level of health-preserving care.”

Jill Filipovic, “Do Pregnant Women Have the Same Rights Under the Law as Everyone Else?”

“The overturning of Roe v. Wade, which was planned and executed by Donald Trump, marked the first time in American history that a constitutional right—one that isessential to women’s autonomy and dignity—was ripped away. As I’ve said before, this isn’t something Republicans can fix with spin, or rebranding, or by sticking their heads in the sand. For women across America where politicians now control their pregnancies—and doctors who are now barred from practicing the quality health care they were trained to provide—the post-Roe world is a living hell, and a personal nightmare.”

—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), during her opening statement hosting a Senate briefing on the state of abortion rights in America.

“I want to thank me—for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do. And I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful people, ‘Go on girl with your bad self. You did that.’”

—Niecy Nash, accepting an Emmy for her role in ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’

Milestones

+ Yosha Iglesias became a Woman International Master in Chess, the first trans woman to ever earn that title. It is the second-highest title in women’s chess, a remarkable achievement for Iglesias after she received transphobic pushback from FIDE, the international chess competition organization, last year.

“For me, it’s a life achievement. And it turned out that I had underestimated the impact on trans players and also trans non-players. I’ve received so many lovely messages. One of the most moving was from a trans player who told me she had quit chess to transition but that my story inspired her to return to competition,” said Iglesias.

+ Republican presidential candidates are attempting to avoid discussing abortion, fearing that openly pushing for abortion bans will mobilize voters against them. 

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+ Twenty-nine states and D.C. have now passed laws allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives. This could greatly increase access to birth control, with over 70 percent of women aged 18-44 reporting interest in pharmacy-based contraception.

+ An Ohio grand jury decided not to indict Brittany Watts, who was under investigation for “felony abuse of a corpse” after having a miscarriage at home. Watts attempted to go to a hospital for care three times, but treatment was delayed because of restrictive abortion laws. Her case is one more example of how abortion bans harm everyone—and are often weaponized against Black women and other marginalized groups. 

+ Pope Francis spoke out against surrogacy, calling for a global ban on the practice. The Vatican also opposes IVF, and views surrogacy as a “commercialization” of pregnancy.

+ A trans woman running for office in Ohio was removed from the ballot for not including her deadname on her candidate application. A law passed in 1995 requires candidates to include previous names if they were legally changed within five years, but includes exceptions for name changes due to marriage. However, none of the candidate paperwork included information about the requirement. Now, Vanessa Joy can’t even run as a write-in candidate. 

“It’s a barrier to entry for many trans and gender-nonconforming people,” says Joy. “Where I personally would have just bit the bullet and allowed my deadname to be on the petitions and likely on the ballot, for a lot of trans people, they don’t want their deadnames printed. It’s a safety concern for many.”

+ On the first day back after winter break, a student in Iowa killed a sixth-grader and injured five others in the first mass shooting of 2024. There were 627 mass shootings in 2023, and President Biden recently called for gun reform on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. But congressional Republicans continue to block gun control bills.

+ A West Virginia bill would ban gender-affirming care until age 21 and mandate that therapists and social workers try to “cure” transgender people. Even harsher than the current under-18 gender-affirming care ban, this bill would mandate conversion therapy, a horrific and harmful practice currently banned in 27 states.

Community organizer Ash Orr responded, “Trans people know … there is nothing to ‘cure.’ The truth is, trans people of all ages are living happy, complete and joyful lives. This contradicts the false narrative created around our community by extremist politicians. This piece of legislation attacks our most basic values of privacy and control over our own bodies, and is based on misleading or even outright false ideas. …This is a blatant attempt to criminalize and erase the trans community of West Virginia.”

Raymond (last name omitted for privacy) lives in Mississippi and is one of the 35 percent of transgender youth living in states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care. (Rory Doyle / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

+ House Republicans launched impeachment hearings for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and hope to remove him from office. If impeached, Mayorkas will likely be acquitted by the Senate, as Democrats argue that the impeachment is a political stunt that won’t resolve the border crisis. 

+ The first all-female city council in St. Paul, Minn., was sworn in this month. The seven council members are now the youngest and most racially diverse city council ever, with all of them under 40 and six women of color.

This event made national news, as millions of Americans (not just Minnesotans!) are thrilled to see a major U.S. city installing an all-female governing body, which was also the youngest and most culturally diverse in that city’s history (or in most U.S. cities’ histories, frankly). Vote Run Lead deputy state director for Minnesota Kate Lundquist was in attendance at the swearing-in event, along with dozens of Vote Run Lead alums and contributors. In fact, one of Vote Run Lead’s speaker-trainers was responsible for planning the ceremonies: Doua Young-Hernandez. Vote Run Lead has trained and connected with hundreds of Minnesota women, and has many connections in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Capitol and local governments across the state. We are proud of this paradigm-shifting leadership in St. Paul and the North Star State!

+ NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre announced his resignation as he stands trial in New York for financial misconduct and corruption. 

Demonstrators rally with senators outside the U.S. Capitol to demand the Senate take action on gun safety on May 26, 2022, in the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas. (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

+ Florida abortion advocates have collected enough signatures to add an abortion rights amendment to the ballot in 2024. The state Supreme Court will hold a hearing in February to approve or reject the wording of the amendment. 

+ An ad campaign in Beverly Hills is calling for expanded access to abortion. The billboards, sidewalk decals and digital ads direct supporters to a petition, in response to the city blocking an all-trimester abortion clinic’s lease.

“The right to abortion only exists if every person can meaningfully access abortion care at any point during pregnancy. Elected leaders in California cannot claim to be pro-abortion champions while remaining silent and complicit when abortion clinics are blocked from opening. We call on the city of Beverly Hills to expand access to Californians and any person seeking care in this critical access state,” explains Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, vice president of communications of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

+ Four more women joined a Tennessee lawsuit after being forced to flee the state while suffering dangerous pregnancies.

+ Trump won the Iowa Republican primary caucus with record margins, thanks in part to unprecedented support from evangelical Christians. After coming in below Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, both Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson have dropped out of the race.

+ Two significant abortion cases are now awaiting input from the Supreme Court.

  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on Idaho’s abortion ban, and allowed the state to enforce the ban while the case is pending. The near-total ban has resulted in emergency room patients being denied medically necessary abortion care. The Biden Administration argues that the ban conflicts with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) that requires hospitals to stabilize patients. Eighty-five percent of voters support requirements to provide emergency abortions when medically necessary. 
  • Another pending Supreme Court case is challenging access to medication abortion. The Court could decide to ban telemedicine abortion care, and restrict who can prescribe mifepristone, drastically reducing access to abortion, especially for those in states with few remaining abortion clinics. 

+ In 2018, Liuba Grechen Shirley (Vote Mama Foundation founder and CEO) ran for Congress and petitioned the Federal Election Commission (FEC), becoming the first woman in history to receive federal approval to spend Campaign Funds for Childcare (CFCC). This unanimous, bipartisan decision paved the way for more parents to run for office—68 federal candidates have since used CFCC, both moms and dads, Democrats and Republicans. The FEC ruling made it easier for parents to run at the federal level, but it does not apply to candidates campaigning for state and local office.

  • CFCC saw a 662 percent increase in usage from 2018-2022; 68 individual candidates utilized CFCC in 90 federal races

+ Michigan must redraw its legislative maps, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. A lower court struck down the districts for racial gerrymandering. While the state appeals the lower court’s decision, it must draw new maps in the meantime. 

+ South Carolina swore in Tameika Isaac Devine as the sixth woman to the state Senate, meaning the state no longer has the lowest percentage of women in its upper chamber in the United States.

+ Pandia Health recently announced its expansion into hormonal treatment for menopause. They are also the only women-founded and -led company providing customized birth control treatment and delivery.

+ Two Austin lawyers are petitioning the Texas Medical Board asking for guidance on state laws restricting abortion after the board gave no response to lawmakers, doctors and the Texas Supreme Court’s calls to clarify what medical exemption are allowed under the state’s severe abortion ban.

An abortion-rights rally on June 25, 2022 in Austin, Texas, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 50-year-old Roe v. Wade case and erased a federal right to an abortion. (Sergio Flores / Getty Images)

+ Spellman, a historically Black women’s college, received a $100 million donation, the single largest gift ever to a historically Black college.

+ Remote votes. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would allow women serving in Congress to vote by proxy for six weeks after they give birth. Luna, a conservative who voted against proxy voting in general last year, credits her own absence from Congress after giving birth last August as inspiration for the bill.

+ President Donald Trump is on trial for the second time over his defamation of E. Jean Carroll, who said he raped her in the 1990s. A civil jury already found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in his statements about Carroll. This time, the trial will decide how much he owes in damages, up to $10 million.

+ Fertility freedom. A new bill introduced would cement national access to in vitro fertilization, regardless of potentially restrictive state legislation. The bill, introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D–Ill.) and Rep. Susan Wild (D–Pa.) would make sure that state abortion bans do not infringe on the practice.

+ The Golden Globe Awards had both highs and lows, from disappointing jokes to major wins for women in film and TV.

  • Host Jo Koy’s performance fell flat, with sexist jokes about Barbie and Taylor Swift getting awkward silences. After reducing Taylor Swift’s incredible achievements in 2023 to a joke about her boyfriend, and focusing on Barbie’s “big boobies”, Koy pivoted to blaming his writers and the short prep time for the negative reactions from the audience. 
  • Lily Gladstone became the first Indigenous person to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress, for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon”. She is only the second Native actress to even be nominated by the Globes, after Irene Bedard in 1995. 
  • Ali Wong was the first Asian actress to win in her category, Best Actress in a Limited TV Series, for her work on “Beef”.
  • Ayo Edebiri accepted the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series for her role in “The Bear,” while also shutting down sexist questions on the red carpet and thanking the assistants who answer her emails.
  • “Oppenheimer” took home 5 Golden Globes, while “Barbie” won Best Song for Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” as well as the award for Best Cinematic and Box Office Achievement.
  • “Succession,” “The Bear,” “Beef” and “Poor Things” were also big winners.

How We’re Doing

+ Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe crime increased last year, but homicides and other violent crimes actually decreased significantly.

+ People who experience depression during pregnancy or their first year postpartum are at increased risk of attempting suicide, even years later. One study found that women with perinatal depression had three times the risk of suicidal behavior, and another found that women with perinatal depression are more than six times at risk of dying by suicide.

+ A majority of Americans say medication abortion should be legal in their state, with only 22 percent saying it should be illegal. 

+ Black women are at a higher risk of miscarriage than white women, according to a new study. In turn, people who have experienced miscarriage are vulnerable to long-term effects like heart disease, stroke, thrombosis, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

+ Democrats performed extremely well in special elections in 2023, leading to increased optimism about the 2024 elections. FiveThirtyEight found that in 38 special elections, Democrats outperformed the normal partisan lean by an average of 10 percent. In comparison, Democrats outperformed the partisan lead by 4 percent between 2018 and 2020.

+ A survey of executives in the U.S. found that a majority have expanded DEI efforts, despite increased backlash since the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision.

+ Almost 40 percent of Black people report seeing racist news coverage about Black people often, and another 40 percent see insensitive coverage sometimes. In comparison, only 21 percent of white Americans report seeing racist news coverage frequently. Overall, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to report seeing racist or racially insensitive news coverage.

Up Next:

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

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