As Rewire.News’ vice president and managing editor, I’m proud of the investigative work published by Rewire.News in 2018 to expose how those in power exploit the most vulnerable.
At every turn, the Trump administration has empowered conservative religious organizations to deny individuals health care or civil rights. Rewire.News has repeatedly shown the effect these denials can have on patients by restricting their access to birth control, miscarriage care, and abortion care. This fall, investigative reporters Amy Littlefield and Laura Gottesdiener traveled to Mexico as part of the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Adelante Latin America Reporting Initiative to report on the spread of U.S. Catholic health-care giant Christus to Mexico. Their piece, published on Rewire.News this November, is the first to interrogate how the Catholic Church stands between patients and their medical needs in Mexico. One patient, Sonia Gutiérrez Leon, told Rewire.News that she had wanted a tubal ligation after her second child so she could achieve her dreams, including travel. Instead, doctors at Catholic hospitals repeatedly denied her the operation. Today, Gutiérrez Leon has four children.
The influence of conservative Christianity on health care puts patients in unnecessary danger. In March, Littlefield reported on how a new needle exchange program in Kentucky couldn’t offer condoms to patients because of Catholic hospital rules—even as the region faced an uptick in HIV cases. Making matters worse, as Littlefield has noted, many women don’t know whether their hospitals are Catholic, meaning they may be unable to access necessary medical services in the most dire circumstances.
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Rewire.News goes beyond the headlines to dig into how those in power abandon people who need help, even after other media outlets have moved on. As the family separation crisis loomed, Littlefield, along with immigration reporter Tina Vasquez, reported in June about how the Trump administration tapped Bethany Christian Services—which has a history of coercive adoptions—to foster migrant children who had been ripped away from their parents. This is also evident in Littlefield’s reporting on East Chicago, Indiana, whose residents still suffer the debilitating effects of decades-long industry. These residents worry that if Mike Pence ever takes power, he could leave the country behind, just as he left them behind in 2016.
Rewire.News has also been one of the few outlets to consistently report on how people with disabilities are especially vulnerable to mistreatment. In September, reporter Liz Brazile published an extensive look at how Cincinnati Public Schools are neglecting their legal mandate to protect students with disabilities. One student, Arrington Payne, told Rewire.News that her teachers had repeatedly mocked her disability or questioned its existence. A parent of another child with disabilities described how her son repeatedly failed spelling tests his kindergarten teacher insisted on giving him—even though he could not yet read.
Our reporting makes a real impact. In April, Littlefield broke the story of how North Carolina crisis pregnancy centers use federal funds to “share Christ,” in apparent violation of federal law. When Rewire.News alerted the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to the way this public money was being used—including, in some cases, to buy DVDs intended to help men “discover authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus Christ”—the department said it would strengthen oversight of the program and explore repayment options.
Rewire.News readers, we couldn’t do this without your help. I’m so incredibly proud of the work we put in here this year at Rewire.News and grateful to work with this team, and I’m already excited about what’s next.