Editorial Excerpts
March 2021

It’s a relief to see the Biden administration swiftly begin to dismantle the crippling rules and regulations put in place by the Trump administration to prevent health care providers not just from offering abortions but from even offering information about the procedure to patients. …

The Global Gag Rule has been alternately invoked by Republican presidents and withdrawn by Democratic ones ever since it was first imposed by President Reagan at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Mexico City in 1984 (which is why it is also known as the Mexico City policy). …

The Global Gag Rule is onerous enough when it prevents family planning organizations in foreign countries from providing abortions or counseling on abortion. But under the Trump administration, the rule was extended to any health care organization that also happened to provide reproductive care. That meant organizations providing care in the fields of HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal and child health—which also may have provided reproductive care to women and girls, abortions, or abortion counseling—were at risk of losing billions of dollars in U.S. aid unless they stopped any and all levels of their abortion care. When organizations agreed to the terms, they couldn’t provide reproductive-age women with information on abortion even if they requested it. When organizations refused to comply and lost much-needed aid, they sometimes had to scale back public health programs. One study in 2019 showed reduced access to contraception, prenatal care, HIV testing, and screening for cancers across several African countries, including South Africa, as a result of turning away funds. …

[The Biden administration] should work with Congress to pass legislation that will prevent the Global Gag Rule from ever being put in place again. The health care organizations that desperately need this funding do not need to be put through a back-and-forth of building up and whittling down their capacity every four to eight years.

Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2021

Continuing down their list of poor priorities during a deadly infectious disease pandemic, Iowa Republicans are offering a radical measure to limit abortion access.

The proposal would declare that the Iowa Constitution “does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.” If it earns final approval, it would give future legislators the ability to pass extreme abortion restrictions and leave the courts with little ability to intervene. …

The GOP campaign against family planning appears to be backfiring. After a decades long decline in the number of abortions performed in our state, the figure jumped up by 25 percent between 2018 and 2019, the Associated Press reported last year.

There’s a clear line between the increase in abortions and Iowa’s decision in 2017 to turn down federal family planning funds. State officials set up their own program, allowing them to exclude organizations that also perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. …

All that has made it harder for low-income Iowans to get birth control counseling, contraception, testing, and exams. We know those very same services are associated with lower abortion rates. Instead of making them more accessible, legislative Republicans are determined to restrict abortion rights. …

Iowans are narrowly divided on abortion rights. While 48 percent believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 45 percent believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released last year, support for an anti-abortion constitutional amendment is paltry: Just 33 percent support it, while 54 percent oppose. …

The Gazette, January 28, 2021

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