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Women undoubtedly rocked 2018. It has even been called the “Year of the Woman.” Women of color, indigenous women, trans women, immigrant women, and disabled women are leading the movement. In 2018, women of all identities and backgrounds continued to make history and reach new heights in our society. From the ballot box to the music industry, women shaped history this year. Here’s how women rocked 2018.

Pink Wave Sweeps the Nation

Women made historic gains in state and federal offices, winning elections from Congress to state houses around the country. A record number of women were elected to the United States House of Representatives, with women of color holding more seats than ever before and record numbers of women in the incoming class. Women were also elected to governorships in nine states, and even more women were elected to state and local offices across the country.

A Pro-Reproductive Rights Majority Won the House

When newly elected members of the 116th Congress are sworn into office on January 3, 2019, Congress will be joined by 43 new women, 22 new people of color, and 5 new openly LGBTQ people.

The House of Representatives will have a record-breaking 103 women total, including the first Muslim-American women, the first Native-American women, and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Unprecedented in its diversity, this pro-reproductive health majority in the House will help protect our rights and freedoms in 2019.

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Testifies in Front of the U.S. Senate

In an incredible display of courage and patriotism, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified under oath in front of the United States Senate, sharing her personal and heartbreaking testimony of being sexually assaulted. Her bravery inspired supporters to come forward and share their own stories and experiences; many folks reporting that they had never felt comfortable sharing before. Though Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed, Dr. Ford’s bravery was an important moment around which many women united in solidarity to speak up against sexual assault and emphasize the importance of believing and listening to survivors.

Historic Wins in Minnesota

Minnesota voters turned out in record numbers and elected women up and down the ballot. 

Minnesotans took back the state House of Representatives by electing record numbers of women and people of color, and will welcome a new speaker of the house, Planned Parenthood champion Melissa Hortman.

With her election to Lieutenant Governor, Peggy Flanagan became the highest-ranking Native American woman ever elected to executive office.

Minnesota remains one of only four states with two female senators with the election of Tina Smith and re-election of Amy Klobuchar to the U.S. Senate.

Half of the Minnesota Congressional delegation will be made up of women representatives after Minnesota voters elected Angie Craig (MN-02) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and re-elected Betty McCollum (MN-04) to Congress.

Global Victories for Reproductive Rights

There were many historic global victories for reproductive rights in 2018. Ireland voted by an overwhelming majority to repeal their country’s longstanding abortion ban after women-lead organizing groups spent years bringing people together and encouraging them to raise their voices.

A Salvadoran woman’s sentence was commuted after being jailed for 11 years under an incredibly harsh law that allows people who have abortions to be tried for homicide. Teodora del Carmen Vásquez experienced a stillbirth in 2007 and sentenced to 30 years in jail. El Salvador’s Supreme Court commuted her sentence, freeing her and setting a precedent for future women facing similar circumstances.

While there is still work to be done in many parts of the world, many counties made progress worth celebrating. In 2019 and beyond, people all over the world will keep fighting to protect and expand reproductive rights.

Time’s Up

Women across the entertainment industry came together to send a message to men in positions of power who had historically harassed and abused women. The message? Your time is up. Time’s Up is now a 501(c)(4) organization “working to create solutions that cross culture, companies and laws to increase women’s safety, equity and power at work.”

U.S. Senate Rejects 20-week Abortion Ban

At the end of January, the United States Senate rejected a federal 20-week abortion ban. The proposed ban was a dangerous piece of legislation that yet again sought to insert politics into the doctor-patient relationship and deny health care to pregnant people. The reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is very rare and often happens under complex circumstances—the kind of situations where a person and their doctor need to consider every medical option available. Women in the senate were vocal opponents of the bill during the floor debate, speaking up about the impact of anti-reproductive rights legislation. The measure fell short of the 60-vote threshold it needed to pass. 

We Won’t Go Back 

On the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the company Wildfang launched a fundraising campaign to raise funds for the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood clinic, the lone provider of abortion in South Dakota. In states like South Dakota where there is only one remaining provider of abortion—and where legislators have worked tirelessly to make it as difficult as possible to access abortion—many people can’t get the care they need. Wildfang’s campaign helped ensure that people across the country have access to safe, legal abortion. 

Barbie Glow Up

For International Women’s Day, Barbie released a collection of dolls based on inspirational women. The dolls were modeled after athletes, journalists, chefs, activists, and other inspiring women leaders from all over the world. Shout out to Barbie for highlighting the accomplishments of a diverse group of women and helping to teach young girls that the sky is the limit to what they can achieve.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s First Majority Opinion

In a milestone for her expansive judicial career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had the honor of assigning her first majority opinion for the United States Supreme Court in 2018. The justice with the most seniority who is voting in the majority on any given case is responsible for assigning the majority opinion—and for RBG, this happened for the first time in April. We hope RBG is able to assign more majority opinions in the future, and thank her for her dedication to protecting our rights and freedoms on the bench. 

Laverne Cox: Cosmo Cover Girl 

In February, Laverne Cox was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan, becoming the magazine’s first trans cover girl. The theme of the edition was #SayYesToLove, and the issues of the magazine focused on LGBTQ issues. Laverne Cox slayed on the cover in a black leotard.

Planned Parenthood is the Most Popular Political Institution in America

A political poll surveyed the opinions of Americans on political institutions and guess who came out on top? Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood ranked ahead of institutions such as the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, showing that Americans understand and value the high quality, inclusive, nonjudgmental reproductive health care services and advocacy provided by Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. And this isn’t the only poll that showed how popular Planned Parenthood is among the American public—even Fox News reported a poll that showed most Americans stand with Planned Parenthood. 

This poll also underscores how out of touch politicians that vote to defund and attack Planned Parenthood are with the views of the American public. Thankfully, many of them lost their seats in the 2018 midterms, and we’re going to keep fighting to elect leaders who will fight to protect reproductive health and rights going into 2019 and 2020.

Tammy Duckworth Makes History

Tammy Duckworth, a decorated veteran and Democratic Senator from Illinois, made history this year by being the first sitting Senator to give birth while in office. But she didn’t stop there. She also advocated for a rules change to allow newborns on the Senate floor, paving the way to create a more accessible environment for future Senators who may be new moms. Then, she brought her newborn daughter with her to the Senate floor to cast a vote.

Many other Senators, including Senator Tina Smith, came forward to congratulate Senator Duckworth and greet her newborn daughter. While Senator Duckworth was the first new mom to vote with her child on the floor, we know she won’t be the last.

Planned Parenthood Expands Access Across the American South

In spite of the relentless attacks on reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood is committed to providing high quality care to those who need it—no matter what. That’s why the Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced plans to expand access to care by opening 14 new health centers in the American south, an area where reproductive health care has been historically inaccessible. Planned Parenthood has been fighting to protect and expand access to health care for more than 100 years, and 2018 was no different. 

Oprah at the Golden Globes

While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry, Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful and inspiring speech. She reflected on being the first black woman to receive the award, shared stories about her mother and her family, and emphasized the struggles of women “whose names we’ll never know,” highlighting domestic workers, farm workers, people working in factories, in restaurants, and more. She closed her speech with an impactful message to women and girls watching at home: A new day is on the horizon.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wins on Grassroots Activism 

By now you probably already know her name, but early in 2018, most people hadn’t heard of Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That’s because, in an upset fueled by months of grassroots organizing, the 28-year-old progressive woman of color unseated a 10 term incumbent congressman in New York’s 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez continues to inspire people across the country and has hit the ground running advocating for bold new ideas. We can’t wait to see how she shakes things up once she’s sworn in. 

Federal Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Abortion Ban

In November, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a scathing opinion with a ruling that struck down a 15-week abortion ban that was passed in the state of Mississippi. Highlighting the state’s abysmal national rankings for the health of women, infants, and children, as well as their lack of interest in allocating funds for expanding access to health care for these groups, Judge Reeves ruled that the strict and extreme abortion ban was not passed in the interest of “protecting the health of women” as the state of Mississippi and called the ban “pure gaslighting.” Thank you to Judge Reeves for pointing out what many women already know to be true from their lived experiences—attacks on abortion access are not about protecting women at all.

Welcome Dr. Leana Wen

Planned Parenthood announced new President and CEO, Leana Wen, M.D. Dr. Wen is the first physician to lead the organization in nearly 50 years and is also an immigrant and former Planned Parenthood patient. As the former City of Baltimore Health Commissioner, she brings her expertise in expanding health care access to the organization.

As health access continues be threatened, Dr. Wen instinctively knows how to respond, and what works. She's the right leader for this moment and our future.

Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota


Flipping the U.S. House of Representatives

After two years of anti-women’s health politicians controlling all three branches of government, your hard work paid off. When the new class of representatives is sworn in in January, Planned Parenthood champions will have a majority in the House—thanks in part to the army of grassroots Planned Parenthood volunteers that worked tirelessly to elect leaders that stand up for reproductive health and rights. The new class also includes record numbers of women.

Supreme Court Declines to Review Lower Court Decisions that Favor Planned Parenthood Patients

In a victory for Planned Parenthood, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of two appellate court decisions which found that terminating Planned Parenthood providers from the Medicaid program violated the rights of patients. While the majority of Justices on the Supreme Court still have troubling stances on reproductive health and rights, this decision was a victory that upheld access to health care for many Planned Parenthood patients.

Simone Biles GOAT

Simone Biles continues to dominate the sport of gymnastics and shatter records by becoming the first American gymnast to win a medal in every event at gymnastics world championships. With only one year of training under her belt following some well-deserved time off after her similarly dominant performance at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Biles cleaned up at the 2018 World Championships, winning medals in the team event, the individual all-around, and every individual event. She won 6 medals in total, 4 of them gold. This kind of comeback is almost unprecedented in women’s gymnastics, especially given her relatively short amount of time back in the gym. Following this performance, fans started referring to Biles as the GOAT—the greatest of all time. And she’s just getting started.

Ayanna Pressley Defeats 10-term Incumbent and to Become First Black Congresswoman from Massachusetts

Representative-elect Ayanna Pressley won her primary election in September against an incumbent who held the seat for nearly 20 years in Massachusetts’ 7th District. Along with other newly elected women of color like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Pressley is poised to make a big difference in 2019 and beyond.

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Anti-rape Activists

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. This honor recognized their important and difficult work done in high conflict areas where people experience sexual violence regularly. Recognizing the importance of this work on an international stage is an important milestone.

Democratic Women Big in Michigan, Cause Republican Meltdown

Following national trends in the 2018 election, Democratic women won big in Michigan. So big, in fact, that Republican men in power felt threatened enough to try and change the rules and mitigate the power of the offices about to be held by Democrats. Outgoing incumbent Governor Rick Snyder has yet to sign the legislation, but still has time. Similar “power grabs” were passed in Wisconsin and North Carolina, reminding us that elected leaders who value fair democratic processes is more important than ever.

We’re just getting started.

Because of supporters like you, 2018 was a remarkable year. On the phones and at the doors, your dedication is the reason behind so many amazing wins. Going into 2019, it is more important than ever to continue to work to stand up and fight back against attacks on reproductive rights and work to pass proactive policy and uplift women at the state and local level. Are you with us? Sign up to receive updates and stay informed about opportunities to take action, get involved, and make sure the pink wave extends through 2019, into 2020, and beyond.

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