Goodbye 2009: Stories We Loved, Hated, and Sometimes Missed

Amie Newman

The 2009 reproductive and sexual health and rights stories we covered, obsessed over or completely bypassed!

Rewire will resume regular daily publication and real-time coverage on January 4th, 2010.  Happy New Year to all! 

As much as Rewire works tirelessly to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of reproductive and sexual health and rights news, we sometimes, occasionally, possibly, might miss an important or newsworthy story about this broad range of issues.

There are other stories, of course, that we have covered in hundreds of ways, because they are truly enlightening, appalling, engaging or just appeal to the rubber-necking or celebrity-obsessive urges (who among us hasn’t been enticed by the stories of Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin, or Nadya Suleman?) that reside in most of us.

That’s why, this year, we’re giving ourselves – and you all – one last chance to muse over those stories that Rewire omitted to cover the first time around, or did cover but are worth another shout out because of their ability to capture our attention, however crass they might be!

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Below, you’ll find the top stories we’ve compiled with the help of our posse of prosaic writers: Sarah Seltzer, Pamela Merritt, Amanda Marcotte, Cristina Page, Robin Marty, Rachel Larris and, of course, Rewire Editor Jodi Jacobson and New Media Director, Brady Swenson. 

Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section so we know what you all are thinking about as 2009 comes to an end.

Of course, it’s inconceivable to think of starting this list off with anything other than the recognition of the life of a man who dedicated his life to improving the lives of women in the United States. Dr. George Tiller braved consistent threats, harrassment, and violence from domestic terrorists who oppose legal abortion for most of his professional life. It didn’t stop him from providing pregnancy terminations to women in the later stages of pregnancy, under very specific conditions legally-defined. Sadly, Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his church in May 2009 by Scott Roeder, a man who identified as an activist within the anti-choice, anti-legal abortion movement. As we ride towards a new year, we hold the memory and good work of Dr. Tiller close to our hearts; we are both empowered and humbled by his work and offer our most heartfelt holiday wishes to his family. 

The 2009 Reproductive/Sexual Health and Rights Stories We Loved, Hated, Missed or Loved to Hate, Love or Hated to Miss…

  • Secretary Hillary Clinton defends reproductive rights and family planning
  • The
    mystery $200 million dollar budget item in the stimulus package
    proposal that never actually was in the proposal and the accompanying
    Republican tittering over getting to say "stimulus" and "condoms" in
    the same sentence on television…and Rep. John Boehner getting schooled by real reproductive health experts.
  • The RNC discovers halfway through their temper
    tantrum over private insurance coverage of abortion in the health care proposal that they have, in fact, been
    paying for abortion coverage in their own insurance package…and then promptly pulls the coverage for their female employees. 
  • Governor Paterson signs an anti-shackling bill into New York state law, joining only a handful of states in outlawing the cruel and unusual punishment of shackling pregnant prisoners during labor and childbirth.
  • Women’s health advocates rally together behind the I Am Not a Pre-Existing Condition campaign and succeed in ensuring, in health care reform legislation, the exclusion of harmful pre-existing conditions that discriminate against women: cesarean sections as reasons to deny coverage; lack of maternity coverage in individual plans; using rape as a "pre-existing condition" and more.  
  • "The Monumental Setback" also known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment enrages women, health advocates of all ages, providers, and religious leaders one and all.
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state adds a provision to the Senate health care reform bill that would require Medicaid to reimburse licensed birth attendants who provide services in licensed birth centers benefiting Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and expanding birthing and provider options for U.S women. 
  • Uganda’s anti-gay law on the table, in front of their Parliament, will impose the death penalty on homosexuals, in certain circumstances, if enacte. But thanks to the good work of Political Research Associates, the American influence is exposed highlighting how U.S. fundamentalist Christian churches play a part in fomenting the homophobic environment in African nations, via African churches, that leads to violent legislation like this (with Rwanda not far behind).
  • Repeal of the global gag rule and reinvestment in UNFPA after eight years of withholding of funds for family planning efforts internationally, and U.S. censorship on reproductive health centers. 
  • Keeping tabs on female soldiers in the U.S. millitary and the ways in which reproductive health care and treatment are denied to them.  
  • Afghanistan’s midwives work to address critical Afghan
    women’s maternal health issues, as American troops and American influence remains (In Afghanistan a woman dies in childbirth
    every 30 min; the country has the second highest death rate in women during
    pregnancy and childbirth in the world)

  • Women’s health advocates, feminists and journalists raise
    and expose the ways in which the mainstream health care
    delivery system has built barriers to women’s safe birthing options,
    paving the way for expanded birthing and care options for pregnant and
    laboring women.  


Enjoy the romp down the 2009 reproductive rights news road.
And, of course, as we enter into this new year, Rewire will continue
to publish the progressive perspectives, evidence-based commentary and
investigative reporting on these global issues so important to all of our
lives! Happy Holidays!

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