RH Reality Check Readers’ 10 Favorite Stories of the Year


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 RH Reality Check, but some stood out. We picked the top ten most popular stories on RH Reality Check 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.

  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 RH Reality Check’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.

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  • scott-swenson

    Reading this top ten list is telling, not only for the range of issues, writers and opinions, but for the strength of the community being built here at RH Reality Check. The top two stories about the Bush HHS refusal clause were a result of our ability to rapidly respond to opportunity (within a few hours in each case), and Rev. Veazy’s number three piece was a pitch perfect repudiation of McCain’s attacks on age-appropriate sex-ed that became a social networking sensation. The Veazy piece garnered tens of thousands of reads from StumbleUpon and Reddit — proving that the right combination of relevant personalization and policy implication is what works best — writers speaking passionately from expertise, experience, and touching others in the process. The number four story demonstrates the growing popularity of our every Friday columnist, Heather Corina, and her Get Real! sex advice column for youth. Coming in at number five, the Barack Obama questionnaire was one of the most consistently referenced articles throughout the primaries and general and was the result of diligent work by Andrea Lynch reaching out to all the campaigns to discuss these important health issues. The staff time and energy put into the Election 2008 coverage was significant and paid off this year with record growth reaching 50,000 readers per week at the peak, up from about 10,000 per week at the start of the year. The top ten is completed with some of our favorite writers and important issues like the controversy over late-term abortion and the most egregious campaign tactic by the far-right the “born-alive” allegations. These pieces rose to the top because of the personal and political accounting and the policy that impacts real people’s health. Seeing a piece on violence against women make this list is also telling as the role of emotional and physical violence in reproductive health decisions is too often over looked by politicians, especially on the far-right, who focus only on the very narrow issue of abortion. They do this at the expense of all the complexities of sexual and human health – physical and emotional – that should be the starting place for any adult wanting to make wise decisions about bringing new life into the world.

    What an amazing year. Thanks to our community of readers, listeners and writers. The real work of successfully implementing a progressive pro-education, pro-prevention, pro-choice set of policies has begun, online at Change.gov and with coverage, debate and analysis here at RH Reality Check. Our challenge in 2009 is to keep ahead of rapidly changing events impacting the sexual and reproductive health of all Americans. Your challenge is to engage this debate online, right here at RH Reality Check where our new mantra is — Do it online in 2009!


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor