Iowa winnowing of health care begins

Iowa winnowing of health care begins

Gazette Column
News that health care advocates had been dreading came Thursday: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland will shutter a third of it’s Iowa clinics. Locations in Bettendorf, Sioux City, Burlington and Keokuk will close at the end of June. Only one of those locations offered abortion services, and it will continue to provide those procedures until the building is sold. Soon to be lost is what more than 70 percent of Iowans supported — access to family planning services like contraceptives, prenatal vitamins and cancer or other disease screenings. More than 14,000 Iowans utilized the clinics now slated for closure. Planned Parenthood clinics statewide serve nearly half of residents who use publicly-funded family planning services. Looking only at the four counties impacted by the closures, Planned Parenthood clinics served, at a…
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In turbulent times, Des Moines’ Roosevelt gets it right again

In turbulent times, Des Moines’ Roosevelt gets it right again

Gazette Column
Fairness isn’t owned by any political party, which sometimes trips up adults who aim to keep their political footing firmly on the side of justice. Those who often find themselves straddling divergent political views could learn a lot from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. The school is in the news again, this time for a message from Principal Kevin Biggs. Delivered via the school intercom and shared with parents via email, the message came on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order to prohibit immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States at least for now. “To all of our students who are immigrants or refugees — and to their friends and classmates and teachers who are also concerned because of these recent events —…
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Extreme measures rarely last

Extreme measures rarely last

Gazette Column
In politics, there’s at least one thing you can always count on: Power exists on a pendulum. Public sentiment is always shifting. For years this inconvenient fact kept most politicians, and especially the dominant political parties, tilting toward center. They’ve understood that whenever massive force is applied in one direction, the back swing is as equally severe. Iowa’s Republican Majority is brazenly testing fate. [caption id="attachment_411" align="alignleft" width="640"] Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, gives opening remarks Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, at the start of debate on Senate File 2. The bill ends a long-standing federal-state cooperative program for family planning, and creates a solely state-funded program. The new program, if approved, will exclude health providers that provide abortion services. The bill passed the Iowa Senate on a party-line vote and will…
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Vaccine bill risks health for freedom

Vaccine bill risks health for freedom

Featured, Gazette Column
A bill working its way through the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature casts public safety concerns aside, and relies on “freedom” as justification for putting children’s health at risk. On Thursday, a three-member House subcommittee approved a bill sponsored by Iowa Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Cedar Rapids. The bill inserts a “personal conviction” clause into state law regarding childhood vaccinations. If passed, no parent will be required to vaccinate children enrolled in care facilities or public schools. A news article in The Gazette noted “Republicans argued the immunization mandate violates Iowans’ religious liberties and personal freedoms.” Hogwash. Iowa Code 139A.8 addresses vaccination requirements for children enrolling in “any licensed child care center or elementary or secondary school.” It lists the various immunizations children are required to obtain before enrolling — diphtheria, whooping cough,…
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Video: Conversations from the Iowa Women’s March

Video: Conversations from the Iowa Women’s March

Featured, Gazette Blog
DES MOINES — Thousands of Iowans gathered at the State Capitol last weekend as part of the Women’s March, a movement that began as post on social media and grew into an international force. [caption id="attachment_401" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Participants in the Iowa Women's March gather on the steps of the State Capitol in Des Moines in January 21, 2017. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_402" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Thousands of Iowans filled the sidewalks and streets surrounding the State Capitol in Des Moines in January 21, 2017. It's estimated more than 25,000 people participated in the Iowa Women's March. (Lynda Waddington/The Gazette)[/caption] In this video, a few of those Iowans explain why they needed or wanted to be part of the demonstration. This is why they marched. This blog post and video…
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Is it OK to coddle, or not?

Is it OK to coddle, or not?

Gazette Column
Few things are as frustrating as legislative hypocrisy. Remember a few months ago, just after the presidential election, when Iowa Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, floated the possibility of a bill to strip funding from state universities that offered services like counseling or safe spaces to students? “I’ve seen four or five schools in other states that are establishing ‘cry zones’ where they’re staffed by state grief counselors and kids can come cry out their sensitivity to the election results,” Kaufmann explained. “I find this whole hysteria to be incredibly annoying. People have a right to be hysterical … on their own time.” “Suck it up, buttercup” would be the condescending name of the bill, Kaufmann said, and it would be a reactionary measure on behalf of those who believe students…
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Just about abortion? Not hardly

Just about abortion? Not hardly

Gazette Column
Has contraception use or pictures of babies on social media contributed more to Iowa’s declining abortion rate? Jennifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, thinks it’s baby pictures. When the Iowa Department of Public Health announced a dramatic drop in abortion rates alongside steady birthrates, KCCI asked Bowen about the trend. After a nod to baby pictures, she said contraception was not a factor because of its “huge failure rate.” The most popular methods of contraception, with the exception of male condoms, have a failure rate of less than 1 percent. Condoms have a five percent failure rate, which most would not refer to as “huge.” But Bowen isn’t really interested in failure rates, nor advocating for more effective birth control. Mainstream contraceptives are viewed by Iowa Right…
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State funding too tight for unnecessary Voter ID

State funding too tight for unnecessary Voter ID

Gazette Column
Secretary of State Paul Pate says a slate of expensive proposals will clinch the future integrity of Iowa elections. Now he needs to prove it. As telegraphed by key GOP lawmakers last month, a key component of Pate’s upgrades is Voter ID. This piece requires voters to produce approved forms of identification before casting ballots. Pate suggests Iowa-issued driver’s licenses, military-issued identification cards and passports. [caption id="attachment_358" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Iowa State Capitol building is seen after short snow storm the day after the caucuses in Des Moines on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)[/caption] As I wrote in a column three weeks ago, this is a solution in search of a problem. The voter fraud witch hunt conducted by Pate’s Republican predecessor scrutinized 1.6 million Iowa votes and…
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Iowa lawmakers’ top priority is moot point

Iowa lawmakers’ top priority is moot point

Gazette Column
Instead of tackling a host of thorny issues before the state, lawmakers are poised to offer a solution to a non-existent problem when they convene in January. Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, and House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, told the Des Moines-based Westside Conservative Club this week that when they convene the 2017 session on Jan. 9 lawmakers will push through unnecessary laws that will require Iowans to present state-issued identification in order to cast their ballots. And while I understand that Voter ID has been a GOP goal for some time, I’ve yet to understand why. Voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege. As such, it is protected by more constitutional amendments than any other right Americans enjoy. It is especially a mystery to…
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Good for Regents to explain

Good for Regents to explain

Gazette Column
Pretty soon the Iowa Board of Regents will need to explain its actions. A Polk County lawsuit by University of Iowa alumnus and former staffer Gerhild Krapf questions the methods used by certain Regents during the University of Iowa presidential search. Specifically, the suit takes aim at actions that appear to show favoritism to Bruce Harreld, the man ultimately awarded the job despite significant staff and community concerns and opposition. In the suit, Krapf says multiple private meetings afforded to Harreld — and not to other applicants — were violations of the state’s open meeting law. While there was no majority of Regents at any one meeting, she argues, the meetings were held close enough together to constitute majority attendance either in person or by proxy. [caption id="attachment_137" align="alignright" width="640"]…
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