Editorial Excerpts
June 2021

How big a deal is it that California’s congressional delegation will drop from 53 to 52, the first such loss in representation since statehood in 1850?

Census figures released Monday showed that 39,538,223 people lived in the state in 2020, continuing a population-growth plateau that began 10 years ago.

It’s a turning point to be sure, and of course no state would prefer a smaller share of power to a larger one.

But it’s hardly a stunning setback. In fact it’s part of a long-running shift not away from us, but toward us. In the last 10 years, California grew by 2 million people. That’s more than the total populations in 14 other states. California’s congressional delegation remains by far the largest and will continue to be for quite some time. California has been the nation’s most populous state since 1962 and is likely to remain so for many decades.

Yet all that growth, which fueled what some have called the California dream, has paradoxically endangered that dream by straining our natural and economic resources. The state has matured and could use a little breathing room to catch up with itself.

Texas, the population runner-up, gained two seats and will get a roughly corresponding share of those federal funds. Along with a tip of the hat, California might want to offer a measure of commiseration. Growth spurs optimism but also challenges, including disparities in wealth and opportunity — and those inequities can turn into undercounts the next time around.

Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2021

As Joe Biden picks up the pieces in the aftermath of the Trump administration, the U.S. President on January 28 rescinded the … Global Gag Rule (GGR). By signing the Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad Biden affirms the policy of the new administration to support “women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. as well as globally,” a welcome step in undoing the regressive GGR.

Although advocacy groups and NGOs have been quick to support Biden’s action, it is believed that the long-term effects of the GGR have set back efforts to provide integrated HIV/AIDS services in affected countries by years. Long-term relationships with NGOs who chose not to accept U.S. funding have been disrupted, and many NGOs may be wary of accepting funding going forward.

… The Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights Act has been reintroduced to Congress by a bipartisan group of U.S. legislators. If passed, the Act would permanently prohibit the GGR by allowing foreign NGOs to provide safe abortion care, counseling, referrals, and advocacy by using their own non-U.S. funds, removing the threat of the GGR by executive order.

The GGR has been a flawed health policy squarely aimed at appeasing a right-wing political agenda and ideology, a policy steeped in inequity where predominantly white male decision makers had scant regard for the lives of thousands of mostly Black girls and women. Repealing the GGR is an important step in addressing the new U.S. administration’s commitment to women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and the global HIV response. However, further action must be taken to end the specter of the GGR for good and the damage done to the health of women and girls affected by the policy.

The Lancet, March 1, 2021

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