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Welcome to the May issue of The Highlight

In this issue: The anti-abortion movement’s post-Roe future, the plant peddlers of Appalachia, the real effect of the child tax credit now that it’s gone, and more.

Illustration by Julia Kuo for Vox

Roughly a year ago, the government began dispatching payments of hundreds of dollars a month, no strings attached, to a broad swath of American parents. A response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the expanded child tax credit had an immediate and striking effect on the economic security of millions of children, briefly lifting them out of poverty — until, that is, the payments stopped late last year.

The abrupt end of America’s successful experiment to help families and children is just one of the national conversations we’re exploring in this month’s issue of the Highlight.

One of the most pressing stories of our day is the future of legal abortion; the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion this month has left many Americans contemplating the fall of Roe v. Wade and the effective end of abortion in approximately half of US states. Experts say medication abortion will become the best option for those wishing to end their pregnancies in the early weeks, in the privacy of their homes, sometimes without ever visiting a clinic — making pregnant people both patient and provider. All of these developments, writes Anna North in our cover story, are creating a schism within the anti-abortion movement, with a new, more radical guard preparing for the next battles just as the movement attains one of its biggest victories ever.

For centuries, butterfly collectors — also known as lepidopterists — have pursued their quarries with a standard set of equipment: vials of alcohol, cyanide bricks, metal pins, jars, a butterfly net. Now, as scientists are beginning to document what appears to be an alarming rate of insect death, many are questioning that strategy. Is it simply time to take advantage of technological advancements and pin down butterflies with binoculars and cameras, instead?

Herbalism has a long history in the Appalachians, and today, despite the increasing popularity of plant supplements in American medicine cabinets — think: echinacea, ginseng and St. John’s wort — those who grow and forage native herbs in Appalachia are facing the end of an era. We dispatched a reporter to the forests of Kentucky to learn more about herbalism and how overharvesting and population declines are threatening this long-held practice.

And finally, we look at the rise of the emo muscle boys of our biggest movies and TV shows. From John Cena to Jason Momoa to Dave Bautista, this new trio of bulky himbo friends embraces our growing understanding that men can cry, too. So does this new wave of anhedonic Adonises represent a substantial break from the past?

Séan Alonzo Harris for Vox

The profound impact of giving American families a little more cash

Six months of payments lifted millions of children out of poverty. Then they stopped.

By Marin Cogan

A blue butterfly specimen is pinned to a yellow board. A small, white label beneath the butterfly reads Moreno Dibius Peru. Amanda Northrop/Vox

To kill or not to kill: Butterflying during the “insect apocalypse”

Is it still ethical to collect butterflies for science?

By Joanna Thompson

Photo illustration of three men crying. Beth Hoeckel for Vox/Getty Images

The rise of the sadboi big man

From John Cena to Jason Momoa, our most muscular movie stars are increasingly our most vulnerable, too.

By Emily St. James

Stacy Kranitz for Vox

In Appalachia, a race to preserve the practice of plant healing

Even as ginseng, St. John’s wort, and other herbs grow in popularity, the region is struggling to keep its age-old practice of herbalism alive for a new generation.

By Alex Schechter

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

The anti-abortion movement is about to win. Even they aren’t ready for what comes next.

The post-Roe landscape will look like nothing before.

By Anna North

Future Perfect

How the US is preparing to fight — and win — a war in space

Even Better

How to make your anger work for you

Future Perfect

We have treatments for opioid addiction that work. So why is the problem getting worse?

View all stories in The Highlight

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