Health Care — Spotlight on governors after leaked abortion decision
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Today in health, we’re looking at the role governors will play in abortion access if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
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Abortion fight puts spotlight on governors
The leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion striking down landmark precedents that protect the right to an abortion has upended the nation’s capital and the battle for control of the U.S. House and Senate.
But it has increased pressure to an even greater degree on Democrats and Republicans vying to win governor’s mansions and state legislative chambers across the country, where the outcomes of this November’s midterm elections will determine just how far abortion rights advocates and opponents can advance their positions in the coming years.
Virtually no electoral outcome at the federal level can change the stalemate in Washington, where abortion rights remain locked in a partisan feud.
In the states, the balance of power is far more precarious. The loss or gain of a governorship or even a few state legislative seats this year could shift an entire state into the abortion-denying or abortion-affirming column.
“These governors are critical,” said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman.
Midwest battles: In two states, Michigan and Wisconsin, Democratic governors are running for reelection alongside Republican-controlled legislatures. Both states have abortion bans on the books dating to the years before Roe v. Wade.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has filed a lawsuit challenging her state’s 1931 abortion ban, and both Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) have vetoed bills that would have further restricted abortion access.
Becerra: Women will get care they are ‘entitled to’
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday said his department planned to “double down” on efforts to provide American women with access to “the care they are entitled to” when asked about continued family planning services in the wake of the bombshell leaked Supreme Court draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
During a subcommittee hearing for the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic members asked Becerra what his department and the administration planned to do if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked Becerra for an update on the work of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force, expressing concern over the future of family planning in light of the leaked draft.
“We are going to double down on the effort to make sure that the legal rights all Americans, women to access the care that they’re entitled to continues forward. I yesterday had an opportunity to address a number of representatives of many of the insurance plans, health insurance plans in America, and made it very clear that we intend to continue to enforce the law,” said Becerra.
“We will also make it clear what the law requires of anyone who accepts federal funding through Medicare, Medicaid to provide services to all Americans without discrimination. As I said, we’re gonna double down and make sure no one goes without the care they’re entitled to.”
‘JANE ROE’ DAUGHTER: ENDING ROE ‘COULD TAKE US BACK 50 YEARS’
The eldest daughter of the woman who brought Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court in 1973 warned on Tuesday that overturning the landmark decision that established the constitutional right to an abortion “could take us back fifty years.”
Melissa Mills, the eldest daughter of Norma McCorvey, who was known as “Jane Roe,” said in an interview with MSNBC that she was in “disbelief” by the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court showing the court’s conservative majority could overturn Roe v. Wade and abortion rights.
Mills said it should be a “woman’s given right to be able to handle her own body.”
“That shouldn’t be anybody else’s choice but that woman,” Mills added. “We came all this way and 50 years later … we’re stepping back from all these strides for women.”
McCorvey was a working-class mother of two in Texas when she became pregnant with a third child. She wanted to terminate her pregnancy, but could not legally do so under the state’s abortion ban.
She found legal representation and took her case all the way to the Supreme Court as an anonymous plaintiff, with “Jane Roe” as an alias. But she gave birth to Mill’s younger sister, Shelley Lynn Thornton, before the final ruling.
NEW YORK COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS NEARLY TRIPLE IN PAST MONTH
COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York almost tripled in the past month as figures exceeded 2,000 on Tuesday.
The spike in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which was first reported by NBC New York, marked the first time since late February that the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations were over 2,000. The latest figures showed a 153 percent increase from this time last month.
A COVID-19 update from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Wednesday said that the state had 2,119 total hospitalizations, which is still well below numbers seen when the omicron variant contributed to a major uptick in infections and nearly 13,000 hospitalizations in the state earlier this year.
Just this week, New York City upped its COVID-19 alert level from “low” to “medium.” The change did not impact much in terms of restrictions, but should the warning level rise to “high,” the city’s mask mandate could return.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Hochul said at the time. “You don’t know, every single variant that comes, is it going to be worse than the last one?”
COVID’s cognitive impact equal to 20 years of aging
A recent British study found that people who suffered from severe cases of COVID-19 to the extent that they received critical care experienced cognitive impacts equivalent to about 20 years of aging or a loss of 10 IQ points.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London and involved 46 patients who received critical care for COVID-19 at a Cambridge hospital between March and June of 2020.
Participants in the study took part in a “custom computerised cognitive assessment battery” in which they completed eight tasks with an iPad. On average, the participants took part in these assessments about 179 days — almost six months — after the onset of COVID.
“Participants who had been hospitalised due to COVID-19 scored significantly lower and were slower in their responses than would be expected given the control population,” the study read.
According to the researchers, participants displayed a “consistent pattern of cognitive underperformance” in regards to accuracy and processing time when completing the given tasks. They noted that the cognitive impact appeared to be strongest in patients who required mechanical ventilation.
Researchers compared the observed impact to the normal cognitive decline that people experience over the 20 years of aging between the ages of 50 and 70. However, an improvement in cognitive test scores and reaction times was observed in the study participants, though the recovery was described as “at best” gradual.
WHAT WE’RE READING
With usual suspects ruled out, disease detectives try to crack mystery of viral hepatitis cases in kids (Stat)
The biggest health risks women would face if Roe v. Wade is overturned (NBC News)
WHO: COVID continues to decline, except in Americas, Africa (AP)
STATE BY STATE
With Supreme Court considering Roe v. Wade, Oklahoma governor signs abortion ban into law (The Oklahoman)
For women, despair and joy as overturning of Roe appears imminent (The Washington Post)
‘We’re now into our sixth wave’: Coronavirus gains in California spark new concerns (Los Angeles Times)
OP-EDS IN THE HILL
Ready or not, here it comes: We are unprepared for long COVID
Congress must create ‘a DARPA’ for independent health research
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.
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