More than reactionary gun violence plans needed

More than reactionary gun violence plans needed

Gazette Column
Pro-gun legislation in the Iowa Statehouse has succumbed to a barrage of bullets. Unfortunately, this is not a metaphor. The nation’s latest mass shooting, this time at a Florida high school, contributed to the demise of an Iowa bill aimed to loosen gun-permitting regulations. Instead, lawmakers want school districts to adopt security plans that address “active shooters” and other disasters. Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, who managed Senate File 2106, said the untimely and unnecessary deaths of 17 Floridians “apparently changed the optics.” Well, it’s about damn time. [caption id="attachment_1934" align="aligncenter" width="690"] Students, friends and family gather at the memorial crosses at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla., to remember those where were killed and injured in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)[/caption]…
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Family planning services thin under Iowa GOP program

Family planning services thin under Iowa GOP program

Gazette Column
Despite Republican promises to the contrary, changes to family planning services has resulted in less access that will cost Iowans more. Last spring, Iowa Republicans crafted a new family planning program funded only with state dollars. They did so for the sole purpose of excluding providers that perform abortions or are part of a health network that does. Although abortion providers could accept public money under the previous program that was primarily funded at the federal level, none of the funds could be used for abortion services. The state’s new rules not only resulted in the expected exclusion of Planned Parenthood, but of other significant health care providers like the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the statewide UnityPoint network. Promises of expanded access haven’t materialized, according to a…
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Iowa Republicans are devaluing women – again

Iowa Republicans are devaluing women – again

Gazette Column
Iowa Republicans are once again making clear that they value the potential of pregnancy more than they value women. Their latest missive is Senate Study Bill 3143: “An act relating to the prerequisites for and prohibition against an abortion related to the testing for, and following the detection of, a fetal heartbeat, providing for a repeal, and providing penalties.” A nearly identical bill, HF2163, was introduced in the Iowa House: “An act recognizing the rights and protections accorded each life from the moment of fetal heartbeat detection, prohibiting the performance of an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, providing for licensee discipline, and providing a repeal.” Both bills basically state that, once a fetal heartbeat is detected by ultrasound, a pregnant woman cannot legally obtain an abortion. Doctors who defy the…
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Iowans memorialized as face of opioid epidemic

Iowans memorialized as face of opioid epidemic

Gazette Column
Seven Iowa men are featured on a national map that has become a living memorial to the thousands of Americans lost to opioids. The Iowa list of victims is noticeably incomplete. From 2002 to 2014, as many as 1,239 people died from a prescription opioid overdose in Iowa, according to the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center. And, in each year since, the state has witnessed an increase in the number of people lost in opioid-related incidents. In 2016 — the year the seven men featured on the map died — there were 180 opioid-related deaths across the state. The Iowa Department of Public Health has projected 201 such deaths for 2017. The online map, developed in 2016 by ESRI engineer Jeremiah Lindemann, relies on users to add images and…
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Lawmakers hope to buy votes with your tax dollars

Lawmakers hope to buy votes with your tax dollars

Gazette Column
How will it cost taxpayers if the Iowa Legislature approves, and Gov. Kim Reynolds signs, a bill targeting so-called sanctuary communities? Let’s count the ways. The bill, Senate File 481, earned 32 votes and a nod of approval in the Iowa Senate last year. This week, it received a 2-1 vote in a House Public Safety subcommittee — despite law enforcement officials from across the state lobbying and speaking against it. The proposal must still advance through the full committee before it can be brought to the House floor. If approved by the Iowa House without any changes to what the Senate approved last year, it would be sent to the Governor’s Office where it could be signed into law. On Thursday night, the Reynolds-Gregg campaign used the bill as a fundraising plea, falsely…
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Layperson standard for emergency care is under attack

Layperson standard for emergency care is under attack

Gazette Column
Hundreds of Americans who recently sought treatment in emergency rooms have had insurance claims denied, leaving them owing thousands of dollars in medical bills. Is this the next health care battle in Iowa? Those with denied claims live in Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky and are insured by Indianapolis-based insurance giant Anthem. In Iowa, the company operates as Amerigroup, which provides Medicaid managed care. A letter, sent last year, spells out Anthem’s new emergency room policy in bold, blue text: “Save the ER for emergencies — Or you’ll be responsible for the cost.” Those with denied claims believe the insurance company is making decisions based on medical diagnosis instead of problems that led to emergency care. A 27-year-old Kentucky woman, for instance, sought care for what she believed to be potentially lethal…
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Theology as advocacy on death row

Theology as advocacy on death row

Gazette Column
Intersections luncheon features former Wartburg professor A former Wartburg College professor returns to the Hawkeye State this week to tell the story of a friend and theology scholar who was put to death by the state of Georgia in September 2015. And she has some questions. Jennifer M. McBride was board of regents chair in ethics, assistant professor of religion and director of peace and justice studies at Wartburg, a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in Waverly. She now is associate dean of doctor of ministry programs and continuing education, and assistant professor of theology and ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. McBride first met Kelly Gissendaner — at the time, the only woman on Georgia’s death row — while directing a theology certificate program for the Atlanta…
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Sisterhood explains it very well

Sisterhood explains it very well

Gazette Column
As a young girl, Jeanne White was rocked by a neighbor who softly cried and spoke a strange language. What White remembers most is wetting her finger tips with her tongue and trying to rub away the bluish-black numbers on the neighbor’s arm. “I didn’t know until years later what those numbers meant,” White said as her eyes welled with tears. I pivoted our conversation back to the pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution fanned atop the folding table in front of White and her friend, Sharon Poplawski, hoping to calm emotions so that I could hear the rest of her story. After a few minutes, White resumed and said, when she was older, her mother confided that the neighbor’s children were murdered during the Holocaust. [caption id="attachment_1881" align="alignright" width="500"]…
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Maybe the answer is fewer rural hospitals

Maybe the answer is fewer rural hospitals

Gazette Column
Midwestern health providers and stakeholders are speaking out, and what they have to say is surprising. Could fewer hospitals bridge the widening urban-rural health gap? A new report highlighting the challenges and opportunities in rural health care across Iowa and six other Midwestern states says small communities need more flexibility to customize health care services, workforces and facilities to meet individual needs — even if, in some communities, it results in the loss of a full-service hospital. The Bipartisan Policy Center and the Center for Outcomes Research and Education spoke with more than 90 thought leaders and key stakeholders in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming to compile the report, which was released this month. [caption id="attachment_1874" align="alignleft" width="500"] Stethoscopes hang in a clinic hallway on May…
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Interior department’s draft plan splits Iowa

Interior department’s draft plan splits Iowa

Gazette Column
Most of state grouped with land along Mississippi River Reorganization plans within the U.S. Department of the Interior call for the creation of 13 regions not limited by state boundaries. Like many states, Iowa is divided — eastern and central portions of the Hawkeye State grouped with lands along the Mississippi River, and western Iowa aligned with Nebraska, the Dakotas and pieces of other states. The plan, which department officials say isn’t finalized, was rolled out to senior Interior executives this month at a leadership summit titled “Planning for the next 100 years.” In a video published to the Interior’s YouTube channel, Secretary Ryan Zinke said his plan moves “decision-making authority to the front-line superintendents and managers so right actions can be quickly made without excessive paperwork or burdensome administrative requirements.” Gritty…
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