Guest Columnist

Hinson: Make women's health care more accessible

Gov. Kim Reynolds shakes hands with Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson in Cedar Rapids on Monday, May 6, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gaze
Gov. Kim Reynolds shakes hands with Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson in Cedar Rapids on Monday, May 6, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

While many of us are relieved the chaos of the caucuses are behind us, Iowa families deserve more than just politics from their representatives, they deserve sound policy.

Among these areas of policy focus in 2020 should be affordable, accessible health care.

Last session in the Iowa House, we put Iowans’ priorities ahead of politics and made progress to be proud of. I worked across the aisle with my colleagues to support critical access to rural hospitals, secure funding for local women’s health centers and expand our mental health care system for adults and children.

While we made important headway, one critical policy initiative remains on the table: We must pass Gov. Reynolds’ bill that allows women to get birth control directly from their pharmacist.

This legislation is a safe and effective way to expand health care choices for Iowa women. It would simply make contraceptives available directly from the pharmacist and require that a follow up visit be scheduled within a year.

As a woman legislator, I believe I have a responsibility to make sure Iowa women get the care they need, even if it means putting party aside. That is why I went against some in my party to support this important legislation and it’s why I will continue this fight.

Both Republicans and Democrats should stop playing politics with this important issue. I have been attacked for talking openly about getting birth control from Planned Parenthood when I first moved to Cedar Rapids and couldn’t get an appointment with an OB-GYN. I don’t want other women to have to make this choice. We must provide better access to birth control without driving women to the largest abortion provider in the country.

Women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy are faced with enormous responsibility and emotional turmoil they often have to deal with alone. We need to work to make these difficult situations rare and surround these women with love, support, and all the resources they need to choose life. That’s why in addition to pushing for easier access to birth control I will continue to be an advocate for more funding for women’s community health centers and adoption services.

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While it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of the 2020 Presidential race, this session, Iowa representatives owe it to their constituents to remain focused on moving the ball forward. We must continue to break down barriers that stand in the way of all Iowans getting the care they deserve.

That is why I’m calling on my colleagues — Republican and Democrat — to step up and put Iowa women first by passing this important legislation.

State Rep. Ashley Hinson is a Republican from Marion.

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