Health Care — Abortion activists emboldened by successful election
Popstar Doja Cat is the latest celebrity to become victim to the recent Twitter chaos, changing her username to “christmas” before realizing the change could be permanent — “i don’t wanna be christmas forever…”
Today in health, we hear from abortion rights activists in the wake of voters across five states deciding in favor of abortion access and against more restrictive measures.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter?
Advocates look to expand on key midterm wins
Voters across the country handed decisive victories to abortion rights advocates on Tuesday, as results from elections just months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade showed access to abortion was a key issue for voters.
Abortion rights groups are already looking to replicate their successes in 2024, while anti-abortion activists are regrouping.
Every state that put abortion on the ballot voted in favor of making sure the procedure is protected in some way, including Republican-leaning Kentucky. Voters there rejected a ballot measure aimed at denying any constitutional protections for abortion.
Abortion rights advocates were energized earlier this summer when voters in Kansas rejected an attempt to strip abortion protections from the state constitution, the first statewide vote on abortion since the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We now see a clear path forward for defending the right to choice: through ballot measures,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, a progressive group that helps organize ballot measures. “When voters have a chance to decide on this issue, they choose to protect their rights.”
Melissa Fowler, chief program officer at the National Abortion Federation, said she was encouraged by the midterm results, but managing the fallout post-Roe will take time.
“It’s going to take more than one election or any one court decision to really undo the harm that we’ve seen since the Dobbs decision and to build a future where there’s even more access than there was before Roe vs. Wade,” Fowler said.
Kentucky AG: Vote shouldn’t affect state’s court
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) on Wednesday said his state’s rejection of an anti-abortion ballot measure should have “no bearing” on how the Kentucky Supreme Court rules in an upcoming hearing to determine the future of the state’s abortion ban.
Kentucky voters this week rejected a proposition that would have amended the state’s constitution to expressly say that the state does not require the right to an abortion or require abortion funding.
Fifty-two percent of those voting in Kentucky voted “no” on the proposed constitutional amendment. It was one of several measures on abortion that ended with victories for abortion rights proponents.
- On Wednesday, Cameron released a statement responding to the results of the ballot.
- “While this result is disappointing, it does not change our belief that there is no right to abortion hidden in the Kentucky Constitution and that the regulation of abortion policy is a matter that belong to our elected representatives in the General Assembly,” said Cameron.
Though the results of the ballot signified a victory for pro-abortion activists who campaigned against the measure, abortions in most circumstances are still illegal in Kentucky after two laws went into effect that banned the procedure after six weeks except for in life-threatening cases.
The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week over whether the state’s abortion ban violates constitutional rights to privacy, bodily autonomy and self-determination.
FEARS OF CATCHING COVID LOWEST SINCE SUMMER OF 2021: GALLUP
Less than 30 percent of Americans are currently worried about catching COVID-19, marking the lowest total reported since June of 2021, according results of a new Gallup poll.
A year ago: At that time, 17 percent of Americans reported being worried about catching the disease compared with 28 percent who said the same in October 2022.
- The results also found 6 in 10 Americans are not attempting to isolate themselves at all, while a new record, 78 percent, advise healthy individuals to live life normally to avoid interruptions to work and business.
- In comparison, around 1 in 5 still say the best advice for healthy people without symptoms is to stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting and spreading the disease.
- A record low number of Americans also said they’re avoiding certain situations because of the threat of infection, and just 40 percent report using a face mask outside of their home in the past week, marking another new low of the pandemic.
SOTOMAYOR WON’T STOP MANDATE FOR NYC PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS
Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday denied a request from a group of New York City public sector workers who sought to block their employers’ COVID-19 vaccine requirement on religious grounds.
Sotomayor, who handles emergency matters arising from New York, appeared to reject the request herself without referring the matter to the full court, according to the brief order.
- The challengers comprised a group called New Yorkers for Religious Liberty, as well as public schoolteachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and law enforcement officers.
- They claimed that New York City’s policy runs afoul of religious protections by forcing workers to choose between their jobs or taking the vaccine in violation of their religious beliefs.
The court has previously denied vaccine mandate challenges by Maine health care workers, New York City public school teachers and a group of Indiana University students.
WHO: Global COVID deaths down 90%
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that global COVID-19 deaths have dropped 90 percent since February.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said at a media briefing that only 9,400 COVID-19 deaths were reported to the organization last week, down from the more than 75,000 deaths reported in February.
“We have come a long way, and this is definitely cause for optimism, but we continue to call on all governments, communities and individuals to remain vigilant,” he said. “Almost 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many, for a disease that can be prevented and treated.”
Some caveats: Tedros said testing rates remain low globally, vaccination gaps are wide and the continued creation of new variants is concerning. He said WHO urges everyone to become fully vaccinated and get their next dose if they are eligible.
Domestically: COVID-19 cases in the United States have consistently fallen since the end of July before plateauing in recent weeks. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of weekly cases topped 900,000 at the end of July and has hovered around 265,000 since last month.
Deaths from the virus in the country have also dropped dramatically since February, falling from more than 10,000 nine months ago to about 2,500 per week.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Nonprofit scores with progressive health ballot measures in red states (Axios)
- Legal at one clinic, illegal at another: How abortion bans make gestational age even less precise (Stat)
- CDC tells pregnant people, seniors to stop eating deli meat, cheese amid listeria outbreak (CBS News)
STATE BY STATE
- South Dakota voters approved Medicaid expansion, but implementation may not be easy (Kaiser Health News)
- Kansas elementary school temporarily closes due to rise in respiratory illnesses (ABC News)
- Mass. General Hospital doctors describe ‘bed crisis’ amid ‘unprecedented pediatric surge’ of RSV (WCVB)
THE HILL OP-ED
To fix the doctor shortage, we must create new pathways for residency
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.