With another year almost behind us, we asked The 19th’s reporters to tell us some of the biggest or most important stories they covered this year. From the fall of Roe v. Wade to the first Black woman sitting on the highest court in the land, here are some of the stories that stuck with us.
2022 was a big year for news on reproductive rights, from the overturning of Roe to states changing their constitutions around the issue of abortion. One aspect of reproductive rights that has been less covered, but is no less important, is the issue of forced sterilization. In February, the National Women’s Law Center published the first report on the status of forced sterilization for people with disabilities in all 50 states. I interviewed the report’s authors, as well as individual women with disabilities who were told by strangers, family and even their own doctors that they were unfit to have children. I think it really exemplifies the kind of reporting we try to do at The 19th. — Sara Luterman, caregiving reporter
I knew in April that I wanted to write about what had happened to the military justice system in the two years since the murder of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén, who was murdered by her fellow soldier in 2020. Guillén’s story reflects a larger crisis within the military: More than half of women report harassment. Still, her high-profile murder sparked public outcry and significant legislative reform. Sexual harassment was defined as an offense punishable according to military code. Independent prosecutors are now involved in sexual harassment cases. Sexual assault cases will now be prosecuted outside the chain of command.
Guillén’s older sister told me: “I know she’d be very happy to see what we’ve been able to do. I can already picture her telling me just how proud she is that we were able to put our feelings aside and not take no for an answer.” — Mariel Padilla, general assignment reporter
This year Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made history, becoming the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her appointment to the nation’s highest court fulfilled a campaign promise President Joe Biden made in early 2020. Despite Jackson’s clear qualifications, the tone of her confirmation process highlighted the increasingly divisive political climate surrounding today’s judicial nominees, particularly nominees of color. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas asked Jackson at one point if she believes babies can be racist. Other Republicans attempted to paint Jackson as a supporter of criminals because of her public defender background. In the end, the Senate confirmed Jackson. For the first time, the liberal wing of the Supreme Court is represented by a multiracial group of women. Jackson as the newest justice has already demonstrated her willingness to be an active participant in cases concerning voting rights, affirmative action and other major issues. — Candice Norwood, breaking news reporter
I spent a lot of 2022 thinking a lot about Vice President Kamala Harris and her leadership. Two years into her historic role, Harris became a much more visible figure who engaged more frequently with the press and began to find her own voice and lane in the administration. She brought her lived experience as a Black woman and a prosecutor to politics and policy, making the case for voting rights and reproductive rights in a consequential election year that felt existential for many Americans. — Errin Haines, editor-at-large
2022 will go down in history as the year that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — a monumental decision to take away a right that had been protected for almost 50 years. The ruling unleashed chaos across the country, as states implemented new bans and restrictions on the procedure and courts debated what abortion prohibitions might now be allowed. At The 19th, we built a dashboard that we updated in real-time to help people understand what was legal in their state, and whether they could get an abortion where they lived. This project exemplified our commitment to center our readers, emphasizing how the news affects people’s day-to-day lives. And it sets a roadmap for us to follow in the coming years, as we continue to track the battle over abortion rights. — Shefali Luthra, health reporter
One of the biggest news moments this year — for everyone, but especially The 19th — was the loss of federal abortion protections. I covered how transgender men and nonbinary people are among the most vulnerable groups to be hurt by the loss of those protections. Understanding how abortion access and reproductive health policies affect transgender people is crucial for anyone who wants a full picture of the current political and medical landscape. As a trans man, and as a reporter who interviewed trans and queer protestors outside the Supreme Court after the Dobbs draft opinion leak, I intimately understand how important covering this issue is. Trans men are not used to being centered in the major political news stories that impact their lives. I hope to change that. — Orion Rummler, LGBTQ+ reporter
After President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, debt cancellation activists had one question: When would he honor his campaign promise to forgive student loan debt?
In August, Biden answered, announcing that the federal government would forgive $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for borrowers earning no more than $125,000 annually. His administration also announced plans to ease the debt burden on borrowers in income-driven repayment and public service loan forgiveness programs.
Widely met with enthusiasm, Biden’s loan relief package would chip away at the student debt of an estimated 43 million individuals, most of whom are women. But nearly four months later, lawsuits have stopped his administration from forgiving student loan debt. In February, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about Biden’s debt relief plan before deciding the financial fate of millions of borrowers. — Nadra Nittle, education reporter
In August, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a historic $400 million for climate action. While the bill was widely lauded as a significant job creator, and a step toward transitioning the country to clean energy, it failed to account for who will benefit most from these dollars. With most of the job creation happening in industries that employ electricians, construction workers and renewable and solar energy development, these good paying union jobs President Joe Biden keeps touting will disproportionately go to men.
In addition to that fact, funding for care workers— an industry that mostly employs women, was cut out of the final bill. Still, women are carving out their own space in the solar industry, and addressing issues of harassment and discrimination on the job. Some job sites have begun to offer child care, another barrier to parents looking to work in some of these fields. — Jessica Kutz, gender, climate and sustainability reporter
Five years ago, reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed the serial sexual misconduct of Hollywood film scion Harvey Weinstein. But as attention turned to Weinstein, the “Silence Breakers” whose stories helped spark a national reckoning often found themselves reduced to the worst moment of their lives, stripped of any identity beyond “Weinstein survivor.” To commemorate the five-year anniversary of when the news first broke, and on the heels of the start of Weinstein facing trial for his actions, I spoke with four of the women to first come forward. I let them speak in their own words about what the lives they have built for themselves as they have reconciled healing in the public eye, and how that has shaped the women they are today. — Jennifer Gerson, breaking news reporter
Earlier this year, young people were moved to Angola prison, the largest maximum security in the country and the site of a former plantation. This decision did not happen in a vacuum, but is an example of how mass incarceration impacts entire families. At the center of the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline are Black mothers who want their children to have access to mental and educational resources that will better equip them to succeed. — Rebekah Barber, editorial fellow
This piece, co-written with my colleague Jennifer Gerson, is a snapshot in time of the dynamics going into Election Day. At The 19th, we tried to tell part of that story through the lens of election administrators — a predominantly women-led workforce that we’ve covered throughout the year. As our state politics and voting reporter, I wanted to give readers a clear picture of what was at stake going into that Tuesday: trepidation, yet hope, from election workers that democracy would remain standing despite the ongoing effects of the Big Lie. I hope we captured the realities around election and voting in 2022, which will continue to be a major story to follow in the new year and beyond. — Barbara Rodriguez, state politics and voting reporter
For most of this century, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s name has been synonymous with House Democrats and Democratic leadership. Her November announcement that she planned to step down from House Democratic leadership, while long-anticipated, sent a jolt through Washington. Pelosi, the first and only woman to serve as House speaker, distinguished herself as one of the most consequential figures in American politics with a historic two-decade tenure leading House Democrats under four presidents. With her razor-sharp legislative skills and adept ability at wrangling and marshaling the members of her caucus, Pelosi secured the passage of legacy-defining policies like the Affordable Care Act and major components of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. Pelosi’s exit from leadership represents a major shakeup in Washington and the passing of the baton to a younger and more diverse generation of leaders to take the reins and define the future of the Democratic Party. — Grace Panetta, politics reporter
The Colorado Springs massacre laid bare a sobering reality: Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric can spur the same kind of violence it did four decades ago. Forty-two years to the day after the West Street anti-gay mass shooting in New York shocked the community, the Colorado Springs massacre claimed five lives.
In both cases, the violence was attributed to a backlash against the progress and prominence of LGBTQ+ people in politics. The most recent violence also came after many extreme right activists spent the year labeling LGBTQ+ people as “groomers.” The parallel stories illuminated for us that history will repeat unless we interrupt dehumanizing tropes about LGBTQ+ people. — Kate Sosin, LGBTQ+ reporter