The Week in Women
Americans overwhelmingly support abortion rights, but a tiny misogynist minority is ruling us all.
Hi readers, and welcome to the Week in Women. First up this week: An enormous national poll on Americans’ abortion views has yielded a single, clear conclusion: Americans overwhelmingly support abortion rights, and only a teeny-tiny minority wants to see abortion outlawed. But that teeny-tiny extremist minority is making the law in large swaths of the US.
If you lined up 100 Americans, just 7 would want to outlaw abortion in all cases — the standard position of “pro-life” advocacy groups. By contrast, 65 of those 100 Americans would want abortion legal in all or most cases.
For every one American who opposes abortion rights, there are nine who want abortion to remain legal.
The Washington Post put it in the clearest terms. “On average, there are 8.7 people in a state who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases for every one who thinks it should be illegal. In states that voted for Trump in 2020, the average ratio is 5.6 to 1.”
Even close to four in ten Republicans want abortion to be legal in most cases. And majorities in most states say abortion should be legal.
A majority of Americans want Congress to pass a law protecting abortion rights nationwide. Only 12% want Congress to ban abortion — which is what the Republican Party is trying to do.
Stunningly, nearly a third of Americans say they don’t know if abortion is legal or not in their state. There are, of course, several states where abortion rights are caught up in the courts, and there are ongoing battles over the procedure’s legality. But for 30% of Americans to not know if abortion is legal or illegal where they live is pretty troubling — and part of what the anti-abortion movement wants, and why Republican candidates have been so tight-lipped on their own political efforts.
Dying to Give Life: According to a new UN report, global progress on maternal mortality has been stalled since 2015 — and in the US and Europe, rates have gotten worse. Roughly 300,000 women die giving birth every year; the overwhelming majority of these deaths are preventable.
Misogynist Government, Misogynist Outcomes: As of August 2022, Afghanistan has the most maternal deaths in the Asia-Pacific region with 638 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 394 deaths in prior years before the Taliban takeover. The Taliban have also ordered the ban of sales of contraceptives at pharmacies in two of Afghanistan’s largest cities. The Taliban have said that contraception is a “western conspiracy” to control the population growth of Muslims and its use is forbidden under their interpretation of Sharia law. This will have devastating impacts on Afghan women and families, as the country already suffers from a high maternal and infant mortality rate.
Pro-Lifers for the Death Penalty: You know that old abortion rights chant, “Pro-life your name’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”? Well, the “pro-life” movement has quickly moved beyond not caring if women die to legislating that women who have abortions should die. In South Carolina, a proposed anti-abortion law called the “Prenatal Equal Protection Act” would define a fetus as a person and charge women who have abortions with homicide. And one punishment for homicide in South Carolina: the death penalty.
Female African Leaders Take the Reins: Some 400 female leaders from 15 African nations gathered in Juba, South Sudan to strategize solutions to broad gender inequities across the continent.
Workers’ Rights are Women’s Rights: An anti-strike bill in the UK would disproportionately affect female workers, feminist groups say.
Abortion Solidarity in the States: Governors in 20 states are launching a network intended to strengthen abortion access. Led by California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Reproductive Freedom Alliance is a network for governors and their teams to share best practices and ensure access to care for people living in restricted states. This will include sharing model statutory language and executive orders protecting access, strategies to maximize federal financing for all reproductive health care, and support for manufacturers of medication abortion and contraception.
Leopards Eat Another Face: Nikki Haley is running to lead a virulently misogynist party in the race for the presidency. Donald Trump seems almost guaranteed to launch sexist attacks on her. But Haley is trying to secure votes from people who don’t believe sexism is a thing.
Sexism Live on TV: Some women’s rights groups are calling on CNN to suspend Don Lemon from covering politics after his sexist and ageist comments about Nikki Haley not being “in her prime.” They claim that this is not the first time that Lemon has deployed sexist comments and that he has used his position to undermine women. Lemon has apologized for the comments publicly.
Gender Bias in Japan: A survey in Japan found that women politicians and leaders in Japan are much more likely to experience sexual harassment and gender bias than male politicians. Only 43 of the 1,741 municipalities in the country are led by women, and half of the women responded to the survey saying it was challenging to run for office. Most of the reasons cited for these barriers were related to gender, including online harassment, opposition from their families, discrimination based on gender, and familial obligations.
Stat of the Week:
46% of Republican men strongly agree that “people of the opposite political party as me are threatening my entire way of life.”
Just 30% of everyone else say the same.
Abortion Leave for Service Members: In a new policy, the Pentagon will allow up to three weeks leave for service members to travel for abortions and other reproductive health care for themselves or their spouse. The policy also provides guidance for reimbursement of travel and how approval authorities are required to enforce the policies without any additional requirements.
Weinstein Sentenced: Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sex crimes committed in Los Angeles. The court directed he serve this sentence after his 23 year term he is currently serving in New York. The sentencing most likely means that Weinstein will spend the rest of his life in prison for crimes of sexual assault and abuse.
Undue Burdens: Texas women now have to travel ten times as far for an abortion than they did pre-Dobbs — even when abortion was already limited in Texas.
Abortion Pill in Court: Misoprostol, a common ulcer drug, may be a whole lot of women’s last option for abortion if a Texas judge outlaws mifepristone, which could happen as early as today. Misoprostol is often used in combination with mifepristone for abortion. The good news is that misoprostol only is still highly effective for terminating a pregnancy, but a miso-only regimen may not be most health care providers’ first choice for the safest and most effective at-home abortion. Vice President Kamala Harris is defending mifepristone’s legality. And in the meantime, the abortion pill market is booming — some 20,000 packets of pills were shipped to American households in the six months after Dobbs.
Democratic AGs Fight Back: As far-right groups try to outlaw mifepristone, Democratic attorneys general are suing the FDA over its mifepristone regulations, too, arguing (rightly) that those regulations are too strict. The attorneys general point out that the FDA is “singling out” mifepristone for additional levels of regulation that are simply not warranted by its
Paris Hilton on Abortion: Here’s a thing I never thought I’d say: Good for Paris Hilton. The socialite and reality TV star is speaking out about having an abortion in her 20s, saying she was “just a kid” who wasn’t ready for motherhood. Hilton just had a baby boy, and it’s worth noting that if she had been forced into motherhood in her 20s, she wouldn’t have this much-wanted baby in her more-stable 30s. Every woman who is forced into motherhood also loses — opportunities, dreams, and, yes, often future children she would have had when she felt ready.
Abortion Still Banned in Kentucky: The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled to keep a trigger ban and a six-week ban in place while the case proceeds in a lower court. The state’s high court heard oral arguments over the two bans last year, just a week after Kentuckians rejected an anti-abortion constitutional amendment. In her opinion, Kentucky Justice Debra Lambert said that the state court was wrong to issue an injunction against the bans in the first place and that the appeals court was right to reinstate the laws.
…and that’s it for this week.
The Week in Women comes to you thanks to research from Tamar Eisen (she/her/hers), an advocate for reproductive justice and gender equity. She lives in New York City and works for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
We were pregnant shortly after getting married and we knew it was the wrong time. 5 years later our daughter was born and 5 years after that her brother arrived. Like Paris Hilton, neither one would have had the same experiences which made them the two 30+ people they are today.
Agreed, though PH is 42