Feminine hygiene product drive began with dignity

Feminine hygiene product drive began with dignity

Gazette Column
As Iowans extend a helping hand to those in need, feminine hygiene supplies are too often forgotten. A local group is stepping up to help. Members of the Cedar Rapids National Organization for Women are collecting pads and tampons to help support homeless and incarcerated women and girls. “The idea for the feminine hygiene product drive followed discussions on initiatives like the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act,” said Bailey Mendenhall, chapter president. “Throughout our last few meetings we had been discussing legislative solutions, as well as other organizations’ efforts to assist women abroad and at home with access to these products. We decided that we should be doing something right here, within our own community.” The women learned that there is a near constant need for feminine hygiene products in local transitional housing…
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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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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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Iowa Republicans blinded by abortion

Iowa Republicans blinded by abortion

Gazette Column
However shortsighted, expensive and harmful the resulting policies may be, Iowa Republicans remain obsessed with abortion. Last legislative session, they chose to scrap the Iowa Family Planning Network waiver, primarily funded by the federal government, and replace it with a new program funded solely by the state. That initiative, now known as the Family Planning Program, took effect July 1. Both programs provide men and women of childbearing age who do not qualify for Medicaid a cost-effective way of accessing reproductive health services including contraception, exams, screenings and testing. The Iowa switch wasn’t proposed because the original program was riddled with fraud or otherwise ineffective. In May 2016, the University of Iowa Public Policy Center concluded that more than 80,000 women had used the Iowa Family Planning Network waiver since…
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Sexual harassment report urges action

Sexual harassment report urges action

Gazette Blog
Nearly five years after complaint 'there is nothing that has changed' On Friday, the Iowa Republicans shared a four-page report by Mary Kramer, which included specific recommendations “for achieving the goal of creating and maintaining a safe, respectful and professional workplace in the Iowa Senate.” Kramer, a former Republican lawmaker, U.S. ambassador and human resource professional, was asked by GOP leadership to prepare the report after a wrongful termination lawsuit was successfully brought against the state, placing taxpayers on the hook for $1.75 million. Although Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, has yet to acknowledge or express remorse for it, a court ruled GOP leadership retaliated against a female employee by terminating her employment hours after she had submitted a formal complaint of sexual harassment. Court documents, as well…
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Reynolds’ address offered renewed optimism

Reynolds’ address offered renewed optimism

Gazette Column
This week was for the doubters and the naysayers. This week was for those who continue to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it makes no difference when women lead. With her first Condition of the State address, Gov. Kim Reynolds proved to all Iowans why well-rounded states value and embrace the strengths and experiences of all residents. Her remarks were generally inclusionary and conciliatory. They stood in stark contrast to last year’s contentious legislative session, and in defiance of the bungled Statehouse sexual harassment scandal. “All of us in public office must ensure not only a safe workplace but serve as a model for the public and private sector,” she said. “What we do here matters. Iowans are watching. We can’t change behavior everywhere, but we have…
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Rubashkin supporters have forgotten Postville. I can’t.

Rubashkin supporters have forgotten Postville. I can’t.

Gazette Column
Greed knows no religious boundary. On May 12, 2008, the day federal immigration officials raided the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, I was two hours away at a hospital, waiting for my husband to have surgery. The call came, and I, the only nearby reporter for the national news outlet that employed me, couldn’t go — wouldn’t go. A few hours later, as I sat beside my husband in a post-surgery recovery room, he made the decision. “Go,” he said. I did — not just that day but nearly every day over the course of the next year, and for months after that. The story of Postville, told from the tiny town in northeastern Iowa and points beyond, forever changed me. [caption id="attachment_1470" align="alignleft" width="500"] The welcome sign in Postville, Iowa…
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1992 Iowa and the rebirth of feminism

1992 Iowa and the rebirth of feminism

Gazette Column
Some may view it as a setback, but I think renewed interest in the word feminism is women (and men) finally deciding for themselves. Each year, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary selects one word that received increased attention and interest throughout the year, naming it as the “Word of the Year.” Not surprisingly, given the current state of our union, the word for 2017 is “feminism.” The word was one of the top lookups throughout the year, increasing by 70 percent from 2016. “The general rise in lookups tells us that many people are interested in this word; specific spikes give us insight into some of the reasons why,” Merriam-Webster explains on its website. It began with the Women’s March last January, and continues amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault. That has…
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Alabama redefined pro-life

Alabama redefined pro-life

Gazette Column
Alabama election results made clear that anti-abortion no longer is the equivalent of pro-life. The professional number-crunchers will have their say in the days to come, tweezing out drilled down demographics. But the campaign strategy embraced by Roy Moore and his allies reveals new insights into an ongoing cultural shift, one expedited by religious conservatives’ embrace of President Donald Trump. In a nutshell, dire warnings about candidates’ stances on abortion don’t hold the weight they once did. Millions of dollars — $1.1 million from one pro-Trump super PAC alone — were pumped into the Alabama special election to remind voters that Democratic candidate Doug Jones favors abortion rights. The warnings were issued within ads on social media, television, newspapers and direct mail. “Jones is so liberal he supports abortion even…
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