Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

Des Moines Register. Dec. 6, 2019

Planned Parenthood’s new online tool helps connect Iowa women with abortion services

A rose to Planned Parenthood for using a new online tool to help Iowa women connect to needed health care. The database, called the "Abortion Care Finder," locates clinics for people seeking abortion services.

It also provides information about options based on state regulations and helps women determine how far along they are in a pregnancy.

Such a tool is helpful when anti-choice politicians have made it more and more difficult for women to access a needed surgical or medication abortion.

Iowans can visit the website and enter their age, zip code and date of their last menstrual period. The website offers a list of health providers and informs visitors whether a medication-induced abortion, rather than a surgical one, may be an option.

For example, a woman in Ames is given names and addresses for clinics from 35 miles away in Des Moines to 112 miles in Iowa City to clinics in Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.

"It can be hard for folks to know what their options are, you know, based on where they're located, how far along they are in their pregnancy and their age," said Erin Davison-Rippey, the executive director for Planned Parenthood in Iowa. The tool helps them navigate restrictions and understand current law.

It's hard for the average person to keep up with the actions of Iowa's GOP-controlled Legislature and governor’s office. Lawmakers passed a so-called "fetal heartbeat" abortion law, which would have banned abortions as soon as about six weeks after conception, often before a woman realizes she's pregnant. But that law is not in effect because the courts overturned it.

Planned Parenthood, a tireless advocate for women, is making sure Iowans know their reproductive rights. The rest of us should remember to vote for political candidates who protect those rights.

A rose to Joe and Virginia Barksdale, owners of one of the Iowa State Fair’s most popular food stands: Barksdale Chocolate Chip Cookies.

After serving buckets of delicious sweets for 26 years, they are stepping down and giving the business to the fair, which will take over the four cookie stands and expand production. Visitors enjoyed 2 million cookies during the Iowa State Fair this year — two for each visitor.

"We are giving back to the people because they're the ones who bought the cookies," said Joe Barksdale, who is 92.

The cookies come from a recipe that was passed down from his paternal grandmother, Maggie Barksdale, to his mother and eventually his wife. Now the family, with help from fair officials, will ensure the warm, tasty tradition continues.

A rose to Des Moines Water Works as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. The entity was formed in 1919 as a public utility under a new section of Iowa Code. The first Board of Trustees meeting was held Oct. 13 of that year.

The utility’s century-long history encapsulates the history of the metro area and the changing times — from the 1929 construction of the Allen Hazen Water tower at 48th and Hickman to the Moffitt Reservoir to the fluoridation of water in 1959 after numerous studies recognized the health benefits to the eventual focus on nitrate removal.

Central Iowans should not take for granted the entity’s strategic planning, investment in infrastructure and especially the clean water it has provided for so many years.

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Sioux City Journal. Dec. 5, 2019

Keep studying ways to improve medical cannabis in Iowa

ll indications point to more debate during next year's legislative session about ways to strengthen Iowa's medical cannabis program.

That's a discussion we support.

From the beginning of this conversation in 2014, we have for reasons of compassion supported a medical marijuana program in our state. We acknowledge significant progress on medical cannabis in Iowa over the last five years, but we believe opportunities exist to make the program better and urge state leaders to keep working on them.

Moving forward, we urge the state to focus on the following: 1) Further expansion of approved illnesses. 2) Expansion in the number of dispensaries. 3) An increase in the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cap.

As we have said before, we were disappointed Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this year vetoed a bill we believe would have improved the state's medical cannabis program. The bill, which passed 96-3 in the House and 40-7 in the Senate, would have: 1) Removed the cap on how much THC (the compound in a cannabis plant associated with getting a high) is contained in medical marijuana and instead limited the amount of medical cannabis a patient can be prescribed to no more than 25 grams in 90 days. 2) Softened language through which Iowans could be recommended for the program, changing "untreatable pain" to "severe or chronic pain." 3) Allowed physician assistants and nurse practitioners to recommend patients for the program.

Reynolds said she vetoed the legislation because the 25-gram cap would allow an individual to consume more THC per day than a recreational marijuana user. She said the state's medical cannabis advisory board recommends a cap of 4.5 grams for 90 days. Supporters say the 3 per cent THC cap limits the effectiveness of medical marijuana.

Because we acknowledge reasonable questions exist about cannabis (in particular, about THC), we will not quarrel with those who advocate for a cautious approach to expansion of medical marijuana in Iowa.

In our view, the key is for state leaders to keep studying and talking about ways to build upon the state's strong foundation of commitment to safe, effective relief through cannabidiol for afflicted Iowans.

To their credit, that appears to be their strategy.

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Fort Dodge Messenger. Dec. 6, 2019

AFES to the rescue of Christmas

We’ve said it before, but it certainly bears a repeat: Athletics For Education and Success is saving an important Fort Dodge holiday tradition: Operation Christmas.

For more than six decades a volunteer project in Fort Dodge made Christmas a bit merrier with gifts for youngsters and others in need. In October 2017, Ruth Reed and Gwen Anderson, the co-chairs of Operation Christmas, made the sad announcement that it had been decided to end the program. They expressed the hope, however, that some other group would come forward to resurrect this worthwhile undertaking.

That wish was fulfilled.

"When they decided to close it down we decided that if nobody else would, we would take it over," Charles Clayton, executive director of Athletics for Education and Success, said a year ago. "We didn’t want to see it go."

So it was AFES to the rescue.

Last year, the program, renamed Community Christmas, served 256 children. That was an impressive start in the first year that AFES led the program.

This year, Clayton and Sarah Hatley, the Community Christmas co-ordinator, are asking donors to sign up to buy gifts and clothing for a specific family. AFES will provide the food that will also be given to the families, while local churches will supply paper products.

Community Christmas will be run out of the AFES building, 712 Third St. N.W.

Public support through donations is also a key to the viability of Community Christmas. To donate, send checks to AFES, 712 Third St. N.W., Fort Dodge, IA 50501. Please write Community Christmas on the memo line of the check.

The Messenger has always been a fan of Christmas, in general, and Operation Christmas for the entirety of its existence. Now we take pleasure in supporting this latest iteration of seasonal spirit: Community Christmas.

For as long as AFES has been in existence, we have seen its good works multiply and ripple out into the city. Here is another example in this crucial commitment that AFES has made.

We urge our readers to help out in whatever ways they can.

Keeping the tradition of service and giving is so important for Fort Dodge.

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