Year in Broadsheet

From the HPV vaccine to the federal abortion ban, these are the women's-related stories to remember 2007 by.

Published December 22, 2007 1:00PM (EST)

Broadsheet's writers are busy stuffing suitcases, sluggishly making their way through airport security checkpoints or, you know, stuck in a deserted office writing the last blog post of the year while polishing off a holiday food basket. That's right, we're officially headed home, or elsewhere, for the holidays, and we'll return in the new year. We're sure there will be plenty of glittery gems of injustice waiting for us on the other side. (Yay!) Until then, we leave you with a Broadsheet year-end roundup. These are just a wee few of the women's-related stories to remember the year by. Feel free to chime in with those we didn't include.

Happy holidays to all! Even you, Brightstar and Anonymous (you know who you are).

Reproductive rights. It's been a roller coaster of a year for women's repro rights. Just a few weeks into the new year, conservative South Dakota legislators reintroduced a bill banning abortion within the state, except in life-threatening cases and DNA-supported instances of incest and rape. Soon thereafter, South Dakota introduced a bill forcing women to "review" an ultrasound image of their fetus before having an abortion. But the worst was yet to come: In April, the Supreme Court upheld the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. The act potentially, depending on its interpretation, banned some of the most common second-trimester abortion procedures and carried no exception for health risks to the mother. (In a cruel twist, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned just a few months too late.) Also: Planned Parenthood was attacked, again and again, and activists pushed for constitutional human rights to be granted to fertilized eggs and birth certificates for still-born babies.

On the global front, we learned that illegal abortions were on the rise in Iraq (along with gender-based violence against women). Mexico City legalized abortion and Portugal overturned its abortion ban. Amnesty International declared support for global abortion rights and refused to budge in the face of criticism from the Vatican.

On the birth control front, an eensy-weensy glitch in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act made it too costly for drug companies to continue offering birth control discounts for college health clinics and community health centers. The result: space-bound birth control costs.

Sex education. Veronica Mars' writers received a much-needed lesson on the difference between Plan B and RU-486; so did Reuters. The ACLU took on abstinence-only education, we learned that an overwhelming percentage of Americans support comprehensive sex ed, Democrats abstained from renewing abstinence-only funding, a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee approved a multimillion-dollar boost to abstinence education, while a growing number of states told the federal government to, please, just keep their abstinence-only funds. Abstinence-only zealot Eric Keroack finally resigned from his post overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in family planning funds, only to be replaced by Susan Orr, who once declared contraception medically unnecessary.

HPV vaccine. Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered mandatory vaccinations against the human papillomavirus for all girls entering sixth grade. Some argued that this would make girls in the Lone Star State sexually "loose" -- as though the threat of cervical cancer was the one thing keeping kids from having sex. Canada allocated federal funds for vaccinations with Gardasil, making it accessible to all. Meanwhile, some U.S. doctors decided against carrying the HPV vaccine because it was too expensive. Others debated the safety of the vaccine, while some argued it was time to guard boys with Gardasil, too.

Rape. This was the year of outrageous courtroom commentary during rape trials. For starters, a Nevada judge said that men are naturally attracted to 1-year-old girls. A Maryland judge quoted 17th-century rape laws in defending parental rights to men who father a child through rape. An Australian judge declared that a 10-year-old "probably agreed" to sex with nine males and then let the accused walk. A Philadelphia judge determined that a prostitute cannot be raped and then, thankfully, was harshly criticized. And, finally, a judge banned the word "rape" from the courtroom ... during a rape trial.

Most notably, though, we followed the case of the Girl of Qatif, a 19-year-old Saudi woman who was gang-raped and then sentenced to 90 lashes. She appealed her sentencing and then was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in the company of an unrelated male prior to the attack. Ultimately, King Abdullah bowed to international pressure, it seemed, and spared her.

We also asked whether virtual rape is a crime and if rape is ever funny.

The politics of gender. This year, we were faced with more women in Congress than ever before, Rep. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as the first-ever female speaker of the House, and Hillary Clinton took to the campaign trail. Instead of celebrating this milestone, some declared it had brought about "the return of the alpha male Democrat." Then came endless debate over Clinton's popularity among women, whether feminists should vote for her simply because she's a woman, and whether this country is ready and willing to elect a female president. Of course, also up for debate were Clinton's laugh, clothes, wrinkles and ... cleavage.

And who could ever forget the Hillary nutcracker?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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