Donald Trump's new gag rule is disastrous policy that will disproportionately impact communities of color, making existing barriers to health care for people of color even worse. It "gags" doctors and prevents them from telling patients about all of their options, including abortion. It also threatens to block access to birth control, cancer screenings and other basic services at reproductive healthcare clinics.
As a physician, the idea of withholding information or knowingly not offering patients access to available services is antithesis of patient-centered care and, in this case, disproportionately impacts people who can become pregnant who would not otherwise be able to identify and access those services on their own. These kinds of policies are very, very dangerous.
Due to structural inequalities and the role of systemic racism in access to care, women of color rely on the Title X program at higher rates than white women. Of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette's Title X patients in Oregon, 5 percent identify as black or African American and 22 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.
There is already a massive divide between who does and doesn't have health care in Oregon. Research shows that the barriers to health care that many women of color face often result in delayed diagnoses, higher rates of breast and cervical cancer, and increased mortality rates for breast cancer.
It's clear that the current administration is punishing community members who are the most impacted by health, education and economic inequities — the communities who continue to be targeted by racist, homophobic, xenophobic and ableist policies and laws.
We must reject Trump's attack on the nation's family planning program and fight back against this new attempt to deny communities in Oregon access to reproductive health care.
Zeenia Junkeer, ND
Director, Oregon Health Equity Alliance
Closure of OCAC loss for community
The loss of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, a bachelor's- and master's-degree institution right here in Washington County, Oregon, is a blow for the celebrated diversity of our county. In fact, the only other four-or-more-year, nonprofit college in Washington County is Pacific University in Forest Grove.
In 2017, the population of Washington County was almost 600,000 — just short of the population of the entire city of Portland, itself rich in non-profit colleges and universities. Yet as it stands now, Washington County will be losing fully one-half of its nonprofit, undergraduate and graduate educational institutions with OCAC's last graduating class this May.
And the key to this fiasco is likely the word "nonprofit." Along with its vibrant and unusual programs, OCAC has long struggled with the finances of maintaining its beautiful, retreat-like campus just up the hill from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
What support can Washington County itself offer to retain 50 percent of its nonprofit colleges? What support can the mega-profit "campuses" of high technology offer? What support can county residents offer to stem this tragic loss of diversity, one which rips "art" right out of the push for STEAM in education (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics)?
Alongside its degree offerings, OCAC also maintained a "studio school," where non-graded art and craft workshops and courses were offered to one and all. And each summer for the last 20 years, OCAC has operated quite a unique opportunity for youth and families, the "Jordan Schnitzer Family Art Adventures" hands-on day camp.
But that's not all. High school teachers often brought their students to utilize the specialized OCAC facilities in the disciplines (and cross-disciplines) of metals, woods, book arts, photography, drawing/painting, and fibers. These community resources disappear when OCAC shutters its doors.
Hey, Washington County — can we reverse this loss?
Money narrows field of politics
As a new voter, I see new candidates stifled simply because they cannot gain the funding necessary to competitively run for office.
Politics should not be dictated by the few with the most money.
In the run-up to elections, candidates are eliminated because they lack big-money support. This limits the influence of the voter on Election Day. Creating a system that boosts the voice of small donors would impact which candidates make it to Election Day.
Across the party divide, hard-working Oregon politicians and hopefuls are discouraged from running on the basis of finances.
I urge the legislators of Oregon to take action to diversify elections by dampening the influence of big money in politics. Reducing the impact of big money would create an elected body that is more representative, responsive and transparent.
Let's create a system that truly represents us.
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