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Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

By The Associated PressJune 3, 2019

Des Moines Register. May 30, 2019

No one knows better than a doctor that abortion must be safe and legal

Dr. Robert Ashman, 80, was a professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of Iowa from 1980 until he retired in 2007. In 1965, he was a medical student on a surgical ward in New York City. Abortion was illegal, and he saw firsthand what that meant for women.

Those determined to end a pregnancy “had no options but to have a neighbor poke their uterus with a sharp instrument, like a straightened coat hanger, or do it herself,” he told a Register editorial writer.

This often resulted in serious infections. During his two months on a 30-bed ward, he took care of five women with infections that began with unsterile abortions. Three of them died. “So-called ‘pro-life’ advocates never admit this was a frequent problem, but you can do the math,” he said.

One of his patients was a 14-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.

“She told me she did her abortion because she wanted to finish her education, start a career, marry a nice man, and raise a family. She said if she hadn’t ended her pregnancy, she would have had to drop out of school, use public assistance and been poor forever like her mother.”

The girl died.

Another of his patients already had three children, including one with cerebral palsy.

“She and her husband knew that if they had another child, they wouldn’t be able to afford his expensive care.”

That patient died too.

When Ashman told that story to an acquaintance who oppose abortion, he responded: “Yeah, I guess making abortion illegal causes the death of some women, but half the babies who are aborted are male.”

Such a response, the retired doctor said, was an indication that outlawing abortion is really about men dominating women.

Ashman observed that politicians who oppose abortion and use the word “child” or baby” to refer to embryos and fetuses frequently lose interest after birth. Many vote against the needs of poor children, such as food assistance, raising the minimum wage and funding for affordable housing, health care, education and a cleaner environment.

“They also complain loudly about ‘intrusive, big government,’ while passing laws to make the government dictate family-planning decisions.”

Ashman had a close relative of his own who contracted rubella early in her pregnancy. This disease can cause severe and deadly birth defects.

The woman was very religious and did not want to explain her circumstances to anyone. Abortion was illegal in her state, so she went out of state for an abortion and went on to have three more children.

“If you can’t afford to go out of state, you’re stuck,” he said. “If we wind up with a patchwork of states with different laws, it’s going to be very difficult.”

Ashman said the decision about whether to give birth is complicated and one that should be left to each woman, her family and her doctor, “not a bunch of mature, white men in the Legislature.”

The Register editorial board asked Iowans to share their memories and experiences before abortion became legal in 1973. Dr. Robert Ashman was among those we interviewed. Read other stories here.

This editorial is the opinion of the Des Moines Register’s editorial board: Carol Hunter, executive editor; Kathie Obradovich, opinion editor; Andie Dominick, editorial writer, and Richard Doak and Rox Laird, editorial board members.

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Dubuque Telegraph Herald. June 2, 2019

Drugged driving standards needed — and soon

Thirty-five years ago, the notion of legalized marijuana seemed like an idea whose time would never come.

Sure, there was discussion. And there were proponents.

Usually wearing hemp necklaces and NORML T-shirts. “It’s no more dangerous than alcohol,” they would say.

“But who needs more problems like alcohol abuse and drunken driving crashes?” came the typical reply.

Instead, we fought what President Reagan called a war on drugs. We spent a trillion dollars to try to keep American citizens from “frying their brains” on drugs, as one commercial implied. We ended up with prisons bursting with incarcerated drug offenders. Yet there is little evidence to indicate drugs were any less available.

Then, in this decade, the national conversation changed directions altogether, opening the door to legalization of marijuana, first for medicinal purposes and eventually recreational use.

Decriminalization of marijuana offenses came with the cultural turn. Thirty-three states have some form of legalization.

Now, legal recreational use of marijuana could soon be in the tri-states. The Illinois Legislature on Friday passed the measure, which is expected to receive Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature. Illinois thus would be among 11 states with legal weed.

(Meanwhile, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed a bill that would have expanded the use of medical marijuana.)

Illinois law enforcement organizations are already lobbying for more money to address anticipated safety issues.

Chief among them: Driving under the influence.

Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, vehicle crashes there are up about 6%. Other statistics are worse: The percentage of drivers under the influence of marijuana involved in fatal accidents in Washington increased from 8% in 2013 to 17% in 2014.

In national surveys of drivers pulled over on weekend nights, the percentage of drivers under the influence of marijuana went from 9 in 2007 to 13 in 2014. That percentage has likely grown in the years since, considering more states have legalized recreational use.

Determining marijuana impairment among drivers is difficult. Unlike alcohol, THC remains in the system, so a positive test for this marijuana component doesn’t necessarily indicate the person was under its influence when behind the wheel.

Some states (including Iowa and Wisconsin) have opted for a zero-tolerance policy for THC presence among drivers. Just last week, though, a Wisconsin Senate committee discussed a measure that would loosen the law, allowing for trace amounts of THC — much to the consternation of law enforcement.

Five states — including Illinois, currently — have per se laws that limit the amount of THC in a person’s body to a specified amount. The Illinois bill calls for the creation of a task force through the Illinois State Police to study enforcement of DUI laws involving marijuana use.

Meanwhile, there’s no agreed-upon measure of marijuana impairment as there is with alcohol, and no widely accepted breath analyzer.

It’s a conundrum that needs to be addressed — ideally before pot shops start popping up in Jo Daviess County.

While the dangers of drinking and driving have been part of public health campaigns for decades, the same isn’t true for drugged driving. Studies show that marijuana users for some reason tend to think driving while high is less risky. It’s time to dispel that notion and establish marijuana impairment standards.

If recreational pot is legalized in Illinois as expected, an increase in stoned drivers is just around the corner. Until law enforcement has the tools required to strictly enforce impaired driving laws, tri-state residents can anticipate a spike in drugged driving crashes.

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Fort Dodge Messenger . June 1, 2019

Fort Dodge teens show patriotism

Anyone who thinks that today’s American teenagers don’t care about patriotism or honoring the nation’s veterans received a heartwarming surprise recently.

Members of the Fort Dodge Senior High School girls golf team went to Veterans Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge just before Memorial Day to tidy up the site, ensuring it would look its best for the anticipated visitors. The young women immediately realized that doing so would be an honor.

“It felt like a great honor because the place has a special meaning to my family and to other families who have loved ones’ stones put there,” said Taylor Smith, an FDSH junior.

Smith has a personal connection to the place. One of the many markers dotting the park on edge of Badger Lake is dedicated to her grandfather, who served in the Army during World War II.

Much of the golfers’ work at the park consisted of replacing worn-out American flags near all the markers. They also disposed of some trash and did some general cleanup work.

In addition to Smith, the participating golfers were Brooklynn Bailey, Alexis Kenney, Maddie Major, Estella Moffitt, Makayla Newsom and Anne Treep.

“It was an amazing opportunity to participate in this with my team and it was an honorable way to wrap up our golf season,” Smith said.

Everyone who visited the park on Memorial Day saw a clean, well-kept site thanks to the work of the golfers.

We’re not surprised that Fort Dodge teenagers would pitch in to do something to honor our veterans.

We’re grateful for the patriotism and willingness to go the extra mile demonstrated by the members of the Fort Dodge Senior High School girls golf team.

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