Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers

Farmington Daily Times
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Never stop looking for missing Flight 370

After more than two years of searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials now doubt they even have been looking in the right part of the vast Indian Ocean. There is the likelihood of suspending the enormously expensive search unless fresh evidence gives a better indication of the plane’s resting place.

If they do give up the search, officials never should stop seeking new evidence that could jump-start it again. That’s the least that can be done for the families of the 239 people on board. They have had no answers of any kind.

While the plane’s fate remains unknown, one point is clear: All international airliners should be required to carry sophisticated location monitoring and recording equipment so there’s a better chance of finding them if something goes awry. Malaysia Airlines has been criticized for having less sophisticated equipment than some other airlines.

Flight 370 It veered off of its flight path and traveled for hours after its last contact with air traffic controllers, then vanished without hint of a mechanical problem or other trouble on board. Theories about the plane’s fate abound, with some speculating that the captain intentionally crashed the plane into the ocean.

At a cost of $160 million, Australia, Malaysia and China have been scouring a 46,000-square-foot area west of Australia, a search area based on an analysis of satellite data. However, last week, officials said a re-examination of that data and an analysis of new ocean drift data indicated that the plane’s location might be farther north instead. Without more precise information, however, they are reluctant to begin a new phase of the search.

Families previously have expressed concern that suspending the search essentially would mean throwing in the towel. That must not be the case. Investigators should continue seeking clues that might prompt a new search and crack what has been called one of aviation’s grimmest secrets.

​Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 27


More family planning access

A new rule from the Department of Health and Human Services makes it clear that state agencies should not be determining how to distribute millions of dollars of federal Title X family planning funds based on anything other than a health clinic’s ability to provide those services. This is a provocative but smart move that aims to restore federal funding for health care centers serving lower-income populations that have been disqualified by some states simply because they also provide abortions.

This regulation does not suddenly fund abortions. By statute, no federal funds can be used to pay for such services. Instead, it bars recipients of federal family planning dollars — usually state health departments — from refusing to pass that money along to health care providers for reasons unrelated to their ability to deliver Title X services.

According to HHS, more than 4 million people get these services, which include contraception, pregnancy testing, preconception health services, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, basic infertility services, and screenings for cervical and breast cancer. Planned Parenthood officials estimate that about a third of the people getting Title X services are getting them at their clinics.

However, a dozen states set irrelevant criteria for eligibility, effectively cutting off funding for private clinics that also offer abortions. Those restrictive laws have eroded services, especially for low-income women. As a result, HHS says, the number of people receiving Title X services has decreased in those areas. Often, the clinics that are best able to reach a large swath of lower-income people end up hamstrung by state regulations. For example, after Kansas passed a law prohibiting private family planning clinics from getting Title X funds, HHS reported, the number of clients served under Title X dropped more than 37 percent from 2011 to 2015.

The rule won’t take effect until Jan. 18, and it could be blocked by a GOP Congress primed to reverse regulations adopted in the waning months of the Obama administration. Or states could decide to forgo federal family planning dollars, to the detriment of the clinics that millions of lower-income people have come to rely on for basic health care. Some congressional Republicans are even talking about killing the entire Title X program.

But lawmakers shouldn’t hold women’s health services hostage to their crusade against abortion, which women have a legal right to seek. The HHS rule will help more lower-income women get the reproductive-health and screening services they need. That’s a goal both parties should embrace.

Los Angeles Times, Dec. 27