It was a mixed day for abortion rights advocates. We’ll look at the details. Plus: Why the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant drop in global measles vaccinations for children.
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Georgia’s top court passes six-week abortion ban
The Supreme Court of the State of Georgia on Wednesday reintroduced the state’s abortion ban after around six weeks of pregnancy.
The court granted the state’s urgent request and suspends a lower court ruling from last week, in which a judge described the ban as “unconstitutional.”
Reproductive rights groups had argued that the state’s abortion ban violated the state’s constitution.
They won a decision from the Fulton County Supreme Court, where Judge Robert McBurney ruled earlier this month that the ban was invalid.
According to the ACLU, patients who made abortion appointments last week are being turned away.
- Georgia’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, passed in 2019, would ban abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat was detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.
- After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, a complex patchwork of state laws emerged in which conservative states, particularly in the South and Midwest, quickly imposed new abortion restrictions and even almost total bans.
Many people do not yet know that they are pregnant after six weeks. This is the earliest time that fetal cardiac electrical activity can be detected. Electrical activity is not the same as a heartbeat, although the legislation is often referred to as the “heartbeat law.”
Read more here
Kansas court allows telehealth for abortion pills
A Kansas state court blocked a 2011 law that prohibited doctors from performing medical abortions via telehealth.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson issued a restraining order that precludes enforcement of a state law that requires doctors to administer abortion-inducing drugs while they are in the room with the patient.
Still, the Kansas Supreme Court could ultimately weigh in before telemedicine abortions are allowed to resume.
- Since the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal Roe v. Wade in June, women are increasingly turning to abortion pills when they need to end a pregnancy. It was found to be extremely safe.
- A medical abortion requires two pills, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Mifepristone, a drug that blocks hormones necessary for pregnancy, was approved in 2000. This is followed by misoprostol.
The FDA temporarily lifted the requirement that mifepristone must be dispensed in person at a clinic or hospital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Biden government made the change permanently in December, paving the way for doctors to digitally prescribe the drug and then ship the pills to patients.
In 2020, medical abortions accounted for 54 percent of all abortions in the US.
However, 18 states have laws that prohibit the use of telehealth for medical abortions.
BACTERIAL INFECTIONS LINKED TO 1 IN 8 DEATHS IN 2019
In a study published in The Lancet on Monday, a large group of employees report the first global estimates of mortality rates from bacterial pathogens.
The study found that 7.7 million deaths around the world were linked to bacterial infections in 2019. That estimate accounted for 13.6 percent, or about 1 in 8 of all deaths worldwide this year.
This analysis underscores the importance of understanding how many deaths are due to bacterial infections and the associated problem of antibiotic resistance, which has steadily increased over the last few decades.
A global view puts into perspective how many more deaths could occur if the antibiotics currently used become less effective.
The team used 343 million individual records and pathogen isolates to estimate deaths and the type of infection responsible.
Read more here
A SHORTAGE OF MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDERS MAY RAISE ADOLESCENT SUICIDE RATES: STUDY
According to the results of a new study, the increase in suicide rates among adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 coincided with the increasing shortage of psychiatric carers at the district level.
The results were published in JAMA Pediatrics and reflect data from 2015 and 2016.
However, national data shows that more than 157 million Americans currently live in an area that has a shortage of mental health professionals.
A total of 5,034 adolescents died by suicide within the study window, most of whom were male and white.
Before adjusting for confounding factors, the researchers found that districts with a lack of providers had a 41 percent higher suicide rate among adolescents, with 5.09 deaths per 100,000 adolescents, compared to 3.62 deaths per 100,000 in areas without shortage.
Of the 3,133 counties included in the study, more than two thirds had a shortage of mental health providers. In these counties, they were more likely to have more uninsured children, had lower educational attainment, higher unemployment and poverty, and were more often rural.
Read more here
Missed measles infections put up to 40 million children at risk
According to a joint report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), global measles vaccinations among children declined significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the disease an “immediate threat.”
In 2021, nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose: Almost 25 million children missed their first dose, an increase of 11 percent over 2020. According to the report, a further 14.7 million children missed their second dose, the lowest vaccination rate since 2008.
Delays increase the risk of measles outbreaks, and authorities said it was now time for public health officials to speed up vaccination efforts and increase surveillance.
- Measles is extremely contagious, but can be almost completely prevented with vaccinations. A country needs a vaccination rate of at least 95 percent to achieve herd immunity and eliminate the virus.
- However, the world is far from the case, as only 81 percent of children have received their first dose of measles vaccine and only 71 percent of children have received their second dose of vaccine.
“With a disease such as measles, which is so highly contagious, we really have an enormous number of unvaccinated children and a very high risk of outbreaks occurring and the disease crossing borders… Measles everywhere is a threat everywhere,” said Cynthia Hatcher, one of the report’s authors, who oversees CDC work to eliminate African measles.
Read more here
WHAT WE READ
- Trickle of Covid relief money helps fill gaps in mental health services for rural children (Kaiser Health News)
- A third of US laboratories no longer use race-based equations to diagnose kidney disease (Stat)
- Adderall and amoxicillin shortages raise questions about transparency and accountability in Big Pharma (NBC)
STATE BY STATE
- A work-from-home culture has taken root in California (Sacramento Bee)
- term of office is drawing to a close. Baker reappointed the chief medical examiner, the highest-paid employee in his government (Boston Globe)
- Mom of the Oklahoma State Health Department, due to non-existence of a pandemic center, problems in the health laboratory (KRMG)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out CNNBreakingNews’ health page for the latest news and coverage. I’ll see you next week.