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 Journalists from VICE, Mashable, Out Magazine, Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal Among Planned Parenthood’s 2019 MEA Winners

Molly Austin, comedian and writer, served as host

 For more photos of the event, please contact Planned Parenthood’s media office.

New York, NY — Last night, Planned Parenthood Federation of America presented the 2019 Media Excellence Awards to journalists and media outlets for their exceptional coverage of reproductive rights, social justice, and health care issues.

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America 

Statement from Melanie Roussell Newman, Senior Vice President of Communications and Culture,  Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

At a time when 12 states have passed abortion bans that leave access to health care for millions hanging in the balance, the work of journalists to uncover the truth and provide accurate information about reproductive rights, health, and justice is more crucial than ever. We are so thankful for their fearless and honest reporting about what is at risk when people are denied one of their most fundamental human rights — their access to health care. We are also honored to recognize our courageous leaders and providers in Missouri. We know this fight isn’t over. We must continue to sound the alarm because we are in a state of emergency for women’s health in America. Together, we will continue to fight in the courts and beyond to protect access to abortion care for all Missourians and people all across the country.

This year’s Media Excellence Awards winners covered a spectrum of issues, including trans and non-binary representation, expanding access to abortion in rural communities, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and conditions for pregnant women in ICE detention. 

Samantha Bee thanks Planned Parenthood for Media Excellence Award

Samantha Bee, the comedian and host of the late-night comedy news show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, was among the awardees for her insightful and funny coverage of the current state of access to reproductive health care in this country. In a video clip, she said, “It is an honor to receive this award for something we really are passionate about: reproductive rights! We have to thank the Republican legislators for getting us into this position with no way out. Truly what they’re best at. We wish we could thank Mike Pence in person, but he’ll never be allowed in a room with us, so this will have to do. But mostly we’d like to thank Planned Parenthood for always fighting the good fight, for always staying open, and for always having our backs.”

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The highest honor of the evening — the “Care. No Matter What.” Award — went to the abortion providers and staff of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, in recognition of their bravery and tenacity in the current fight to provide reproductive healthcare in the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri. Just last week, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) weaponized a regulatory process to deny an abortion facility license to these courageous colleagues, who are operating the last remaining health center in Missouri that provides abortion. After public outcry and the medical community coming out strongly against the state-mandated, invasive pelvic exams, DHSS admitted that the pelvic exams are medically-unnecessary and backed down from this requirement, but denied the license anyway. This does not yet mean that the health center has to stop providing abortion, but rather that the fate of abortion access in Missouri now rests in a court’s hands. The preliminary injunction issued by the Missouri Circuit Court remains in effect, so the fate of abortion access in Missouri now hangs in the balance until further notice from the court.  

Planned Parenthood Drs. Colleen McNicholas and David Eisenberg, Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, and M’Evie Mead, director, Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, were in attendance to accept the award.

Statement from Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region: 

We are so grateful to Planned Parenthood for this recognition of our work in Missouri. While it has been a difficult and harrowing time for all of the staff here at PPSLR, we are simply doing our jobs, which is to take care of our patients, no matter what. We are fueled by our love of our work and our patients who rely on us to fight on their behalf. We refuse to be bullied and silenced by the state of Missouri. It is an honor to receive this award, and we are so thankful to all the journalists and news outlets here tonight, without whose honest reporting these stories and the voices of those most impacted could never be heard.


Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Media Excellence Awards recognize exceptional contributions by the media that enhance the public's understanding of reproductive rights and sexual health issues, including abortion, contraception, sex education, health care equity, HIV, LGBTQ identities, sexually-transmitted infections, sexual assault, and international family planning, among other issues. Inaugurated in 1978, the annual awards include work done in the areas of print, radio, magazines, online reporting, commentary, television news, and social media.

The 2019 Media Excellence Award winners are:

  • Mashable: For outstanding coverage of Planned Parenthood’s digital health tools and general reproductive health and sex education reporting, including their Sex Ed 2.0 series.
  • Marie Solis, staff writer, Broadly / Vice: For her exceptional coverage around abortion and health policies, including stories covering six-week abortion bans, miscarriages in ICE custody, and how anti-abortion language has shaped the national debate around access to abortion care.
  • Amanda Gomez, health policy reporter, ThinkProgress: For her powerful coverage of reproductive and sexual health issues, going beyond the basics and digging into the details and effects of specific health policies, including physician-only laws and sexual assault survivors’ Medicaid coverage for abortion.
  • Harron Walker, staff writer, Out Magazine: For the article, “How Medical Institutions Drive Trans Women Underground,” which brought to light how medical gatekeeping can affect trans women’s health, and how vital non-institutional medical care is for trans patients.
  • Sherronda Brown, managing editor, Wear Your Voice Magazine: For the article, “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ And The Reproductive Rights Movement’s White Supremacy Problem,” an insightful critique of missteps the reproductive rights movement has made in addressing gender and race.
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor, Slate: For her coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court last year, highlighting the threat Kavanaugh posed to Roe v. Wade, and to access to reproductive health overall.
  • Laura Bassett, freelance writer: For the article, “Republicans are pushing another false claim about abortion to rile up voters” in The Washington Post, an explainer of how language about abortion affects access to reproductive health care, piecing together the GOP electoral strategy on abortion.
  • Virginia Gaglianone, editor-at-large, La Opinión: For exceptional coverage of current attacks on  reproductive health care, including pieces on Title X and the gag rule, and their impact on the Latino communities across the U.S.
  • The Gender Spectrum Collection, Broadly / Vice (Zackary Drucker, photographer, Alyza Enriquez, photo assistant, Sarah Burke, special projects editor, Diana Tourjée, staff writer, Lindsay Schrupp, editor-in-chief, Rachel Schallom, managing editor, Elizabeth Renstrom, senior photo editor): For Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection stock photo library, featuring trans and non-binary models and made available to the public for free, a major step toward creating gender-inclusive content and advancing representation of trans and non-binary people.
  • Samantha Bee, Full Frontal: For insightful and funny late-night coverage of issues affecting women, including abortion, birth control, the 2018 midterm election, and the impact of healthcare policies. 
  • Gray Chapman, freelance writer, Atlanta Magazine: For the article “Who stands to lose the most under Georgia’s anti-abortion bill?” highlighting those who will be most affected by Georgia’s recent ban on abortion after six weeks, and detailing how and why this bill is so dangerous. 
  • Sara Jerving, East Africa correspondent, Devex: For excellent coverage on the impact of the global gag rule and global health issues, including the article “Q&A: 'Global gag rule' hits Kenya's largest reproductive health organization,” which outlined the devastating impact of the global gag rule on patients.  

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The night was hosted by Molly Austin, a comedian, writer and performer known for her performances on MTV, Comedy Central, and truTV.

Photo credit ©Planned Parenthood Federation of America 


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.