Rewire Readers’ 10 Favorite Stories of the Year

Emily Douglas

You read about all kinds of reproductive health care stories on Rewire, but some stand out. Read the ten stories our readers have been buzzing about all year long.

2008 saw highs, lows, and everything in between on reproductive health.  Americans elected a pro-choice, pro-prevention President committed to bringing people to the common ground on reproductive health. Anti-choice ballot initiatives in Colorado, California, and South Dakota were roundly defeated. Congress appropriated record levels of funds for reproductive health care services in foreign aid, and indicated their opposition to the global gag rule. State after state recognized that spending taxpayer funds on abstinence-only programs was ineffective, if not downright harmful, and turned down federal money. But Bush’s term is not yet done, and that means we closed out the year with new regulations strengthening health care providers’ ability to refuse to provide needed health care services.

You read about all those stories on Rewire, but some stood out. We picked the top ten most popular stories on Rewire for you here. See what our readers have been buzzing about all year long (in ascending order of popularity!).

  1. Jackson Katz: Violence Against Women Is a Men’s Issue, T.M. Lindsey
  2. Jackson Katz, an internationally recognized educator on violence prevention among men and boys, asks why rape is a "women’s issue" when over 99 percent of rapes are perpetrated by men.

  3. With State Approval, Nurses Uneducated on Contraception, Amanda Marcotte
  4. A continuing education program for nurses in California indoctrinates providers with anti-contraception ideology — part of the larger project to stock health care professions with anti-choicers who hide behind religion to refuse health care.

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  5. When Obama Voted No, Dana Goldstein
  6. Obama’s opposition to the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” serves as the basis of anti-choice rhetoric against his candidacy. The BAIPA isn’t really about protecting infants; it is anti-abortion rights legislation crafted by the hard right.

  7. Obama’s Late Term Abortion Comments Ignore Stark Realities, Lynda Waddington
  8. If Obama knew my story, or the story of any woman who has sought a late term abortion, he wouldn’t make such careless comments on the legality of exceptions to abortion bans.

  9. What If Your Mother Had Aborted You? A Daughter’s Perspective, Frances Kissling
  10. Far too much is made of a mother’s obligations to her children and far too little of a child’s love for her mother. If fetuses could love, I think they would be as passionate in defense of their mothers as born children become.

  11. Sen. Barack Obama’s Reproductive Health Issues Questionnaire, Sen. Obama’s campaign staff
  12. Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign staff responds to Rewire’s questions on reproductive health — sharing his position on the Hyde Amendment, crisis pregnancy centers, the global gag rule, and much, much more!

  13. Get Real! The Great No-Orgasm-from-Intercourse Conundrum, Heather Corinna
  14. On Get Real!, Heather responds to the dozens of teens who ask about young women and orgasms.

  15. Learning About Sex Ed Before Learning to Read, Rev. Carlton W. Veazey
  16. John McCain, a proponent of abstinence-only education programs, is at odds with 80 percent of the American public who support comprehensive sex education. He can sensationalize the issue, but the fact remains that this is an issue of public health and safety.

  17. An Outrageous Attempt by the Bush Administration to Undermine Women’s Rights, Sen. Hillary Clinton
  18. Senator Hillary Clinton is sounding the alarm and calling out President Bush and his administration for "quietly putting ideology before science and women’s health."

  19. HHS Moves to Define Contraception As Abortion, Cristina Page
  20. The Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception as abortion.

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

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Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”