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Monday
Jun272016

How the Supreme Court Ruling Will Impact Abortion Laws in the US

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court on Monday struck down the Texas law that imposed strict new requirements on abortion clinics in the state.

The 5-3 decision in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will likely have sweeping implications for abortion regulations throughout the United States.

What Happened

In a major win for abortion rights advocates, the court ruled that the state’s regulations imposed an “undue burden” on women’s right to seek an abortion.

“We agree with the District Court that the surgical center requirement, like the admitting privileges requirement provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer for the majority.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy also joined the majority opinion knocking down the Texas law.

In 2013, Texas passed HB2, which contains the two provisions: one, a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital; and two, a requirement that abortion facilities comply with the requirements for ambulatory surgical centers.

The plaintiffs in the case argued that there’s no evidence that the law promotes women’s health and that it is really about impeding women’s access to abortion.

On Monday, the majority of the Supreme Court agreed.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing that the court's abortion jurisprudence is fundamentally misguided.

He wrote that the court Monday "radically rewrites the undue burden test ... and applies [that test] in a way that will surely mystify lower courts for years to come."

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a separate dissent, which Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts joined, on technical and procedural grounds.

What It Means

Abortion advocates were overjoyed at the court’s decision.

“I came here to show support for what's actually right, women's rights, women's privacy and women's right to their bodies. I have no words. I sobbed when I heard that we won," said Ashley Plinkhorn from Austin, Texas, outside the court after the decision was announced.

Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in the case, said that “justice was served.”

In terms of on-the-ground impact, all of Texas' 19 clinics will remain open. Some of the clinics that closed when the law partially went into effect may ultimately reopen, though advocates stress that this will take time.

"Today's decision is a real game changer in what have been years and years of attacks on women's health and rights and we are going to turn things around and fight to get rid of these laws in all the states," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), in an interview with ABC News.

Clinics in Mississippi and Louisiana will also remain open while the litigation in those states continues, according to CRR, which brought the case to the Supreme Court.

Proponents of the Texas law said that the regulations were put in place to protect women’s health and safety.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that Monday’s decision “erodes States’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women.”

“Texas' goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women,” he said in a statement.

Where Things Go From Here

Justice Breyer made it clear in the court’s opinion that abortion regulations that are not justified by medical necessity are going to get a very close look in the lower courts. This ruling will have an impact well beyond this one case.

Some challenges to similar laws in other states are already ongoing; others will likely be brought in court very soon, as advocates vowed to keep “fighting until access is restored for all women in the U.S.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch also said that the Justice Department, which filed a brief in support of the clinics, “will continue fighting against laws like this one.”

"When we filed a brief in this case, the Department of Justice made clear that we believe laws like the one at issue here unfairly restrict women's rights, negatively impact women's health, and undermine the state's interest in protecting the safety and welfare of its people,” she said in a statement.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

The Health Hazards of Severe Flooding

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Deadly floods in West Virginia have already killed at least 23 people and officials fear the heavy rains could put others in danger. But floodwater can be noxious even after it recedes, according to medical experts.

Standing water can contain harsh chemicals as waters wash over roads and other industrial areas. Bacteria can infect open wounds, causing dangerous infections, and infectious diseases including E.coli, norovirus and tetanus can spread easily in areas with flood damage, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who escape their homes amid standing water or who go back to their homes to deal with flood damage should be extra vigilant about the safety risks.

“Disease producing bacteria are often carried by flood water and sewage,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer, said in a statement last week. “These bacteria can remain alive and dangerous for long periods of time on items covered or exposed to flood water or sewage.”

Bleach and other cleaning supplies should be used to kill bacteria that can build up after a flood.

“It is important to remember that clothing and some furniture and household furnishings can be salvaged by cleaning and disinfecting,” Gupta added. “However, residents should discard whatever item cannot be cleaned and dried. Mattresses, for example, should be discarded.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in an earlier interview that mold or debris left behind due to muddy water can exacerbate asthma or breathing problems.

"You can get mold growing up on things that you’re then trying to clear out," Schaffner said.

As mud dries, it can turn into dust and affect the lungs, said Schaffner, who recommends wearing a surgical mask during cleanups.

Anyone who had a wound exposed to floodwaters should seek medical attention to determine if a tetanus booster shot is necessary, he said.

In addition to short-term problems, Schaffner said, there's another hazard that could last long after the floodwaters recede. He said he's concerned that standing water could mean an increase in the West Nile virus carried by mosquitoes.

"All this floodwater is going to leave puddles and pockets of water that will be great breeding grounds of mosquitoes," Schaffner said. "If there are a lot of mosquitoes, more mosquitoes will bite birds and then bite people," spreading the virus.

A list of ways to stay safe after a flood can be found here.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

The Best Approaches for Binge-Eating Disorder

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Binge-eating disorder is the most prevalent eating disorder in the U.S., affecting about 3 percent of American adults at some point in their lives.

You’ve had it if you’ve ever had brief episodes of binge-eating at least once weekly for three months, accompanied by psychological distress and perceived lack of control.

In a new review found in Annals of Internal Medicine of previously published research, scientists wanted to learn the best ways to treat this problem. Looking at 34 controlled trials, they found that cognitive behavioral therapy (a kind of talk therapy), the drug lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), second-generation antidepressants (SGAs) and topiramate (Topamax) reduced the frequency of or eliminated binge-eating.

Lisdexamfetamine also decreased obsessions and compulsions linked to binge-eating and reduced weight, and SGAs helped with depression symptoms. Topiramate also helped with weight loss.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

American Red Cross Apologizes for Poster That Some Found Racist

Danuta Otfinowski/American Red Cross(NEW YORK) -- The American Red Cross issued an apology Monday for a poster that some people found offensive because it appeared to portray what appear to be white children as "cool" and children of color were "not cool."

The poster, entitled "Be Cool, Follow the Rules" -- meant to promote pool safety -- labeled children as "cool" or "not cool" depending on whether they followed pool rules.

The issue that many pointed out, however, was that all of the children labeled "cool" were white, while all of the children labeled "not cool" appeared to be people of color.

This sparked outrage on Twitter, with one user tweeting at the Red Cross -- "send a new pool poster" because the current one is "super racist."

The Red Cross responded on Twitter, and issued a full apology Monday, saying it is very sensitive to the concerns raised.

"We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organizations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day," the Red Cross said in a statement.

The organization also announced it has removed the poster from its website and Swim App and discontinued production, as well as requested partner facilities to take it down.

"We are currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward," the organization added.

In its apology, the Red Cross mentioned its campaign to reduce the drowning rate in 50 high-risk communities by teaching at least 50,000 children and adults to swim. "With this campaign, we are focusing on areas with higher-than-average drowning rates and participants who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to take swim lessons," the group said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

Eat Fish, Lower Your Risk of Deadly Heart Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fish used to be called “brain food”, but it may be heart food instead.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, when obtained through foods in the diet, appear to reduce the risk of fatal heart attack, death due to coronary artery disease (CAD), and sudden cardiac death by about 10 percent, according to new research.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the three forms of these fatty acids: α-linolenic acid (ALA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have all shown beneficial effects on things like blood pressure and oxygen demand by heart muscle cells.

Some may reduce the likelihood of the dangerous heart rhythms during a period of reduced blood flow to heart muscle cells (what happens during heart attacks).

Researchers at Stanford and Tufts University studied data on 45,637 patients from more than 15 countries who had not had previous coronary artery disease.

EPA, DPA, and DHA are found in salmon, trout, anchovies, sardines, and herring, while ALA is found in walnuts, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

Study Says Adolescent Suicide Down, but Still Second Leading Cause of Death

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rates of suicide have decreased 28 percent since a peak in 1990, but it remains the second leading cause of death in teenagers, according to a new report published in Pediatrics.

The study said the important risk factors for these suicides were bullying, sexual orientation, access to guns at home and mood changes. And a new addition: "pathologic" internet use (self-reported daily Internet use exceeding five hours) was also associated with teenage suicide.

The report found that although adolescent girls were two times more likely to attempt suicide, boys were three times as likely to actually complete suicide. LGBT youth have double the incidence of suicidal thoughts.

The mere presence of guns in homes is associated with increased risk of completed suicide, although this can be reduced with safety measures like gun locks and storage.

Bullying was also highlighted as a risk for suicide in both victims and perpetrators, especially with the prevalence of cyber-bullying.

This research suggests doctors should watch for these factors, and for teenagers who are depressed and require medication, the report recommends close monitoring and possible referral to additional mental health support services.

The authors also noted that despite the 2004 FDA "black box" warning regarding potential increase suicide risk with antidepressants in adolescents, subsequent studies of the specific mood medication Fluoxetine did not show significant increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

Your Body: Talking to Teens About Safe Driving

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Talking to your teens about being smart and safe behind the wheel can be a real challenge. But according to a new study, you might not need to say that much. It may be all in your actions and how you talk to them.

The president of Safe Kids Worldwide says when it comes to learning how to drive, teens told them that they really valued the time behind the wheel with their parent.

Now when my son started driving, I was nervous but also relieved -- it meant less taxi service for me. I also found that letting him drive a few miles to and from school helps get him experience in short doses.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun272016

Study: Preventative Measures May Decrease Cancer Risk by as Much as 45%

iStock/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) — Medical experts have asserted for decades that certain behaviors including smoking and eating an unhealthy diet can increase the risk of developing cancer. In the report published Thursday in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers attempted to understand how reducing these behaviors and living a healthy lifestyle could affect a person's chance of developing cancer.

The researchers examined 12 ongoing cohort studies, looking at the health of people between the ages of 25 to 79 and their habits. They found those who adhered to cancer prevention guidelines -- including living a physically active lifestyle, eating five or more servings of vegetables per day and limiting alcohol consumption -- were not-so-surprisingly less likely to develop cancer.

What was striking was the significance of the decrease. Those who followed the guidelines had a 10 to 45 percent reduction in the risk of developing cancer, decreasing with healthier lifestyle habits. Similarly, researchers saw a 14 to 61 percent reduction in deaths from cancer among the people who adhered to these guidelines. More research is needed to see if these initial findings continue to hold firm past the seven to 14 years of monitoring done during this analysis.

“If you adhere to these guidelines, you may reduce your risk of getting or dying from cancer, though the risk is not totally eliminated,” lead author Lindsay Kohler, a doctoral candidate at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, said in a statement. She noted that family history and environmental factors also play a role in cancer development and death.

“However, following these recommendations will lead to healthier lives overall and, in turn, reduce the risk for many major diseases," she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jun262016

Contract Dispute Continues for Minneapolis Area Nurses Despite End of Strike

iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Thousands of nurses at five hospitals in the Minneapolis-area have finished their week-long strike over a contract dispute.

Although the strike is over, the nurses' contract fight is not.

The nurses in the Minnesota Nurses Association believe hospital operator Allina Health wants to switch nurses to a plan with lower monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.

Almost 5,000 nurses joined the picket lines starting last weekend, calling for Allina to hold contract talks.

"We're asking Allina, come back and actually negotiate with us," said Angie Becchetti, one of the nurses on strike, last Sunday. "We're asking for health insurance to keep intact and we're asking for better staffing and workplace violence prevention."

It was unclear when the nurses and Allina Health would hold talks, and if and when the nurses were planning a second strike.

“We’re eager to get back to the bargaining table,” said Dr. Penny Wheeler, Allina CEO, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but “both sides need to be willing to talk about a health plan transition.”

Allina Health brought in 1,400 replacement nurses this week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, and Allina officials said emergency rooms at four of the hospital were near capacity often. Officials also said Allina decided to cancel elective surgeries at Unity Hospital and close some recovery floors, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jun262016

Officer Killed On Duty Honored by Police Force in Widow's Maternity Photo Shoot

iStock/Thinkstock(GREENVILLE, N.C.) --  A widow, who lost her police officer husband in the line of duty while she was expecting, decided to honor him in a maternity photo shoot that's gone viral.

Officer Allen Jacobs died March 18 in Greenville, South Carolina.

His widow Meghan Jacobs is pregnant with their third child -- a baby girl to be named Lennox -- who is due in July.

 To honor her late husband, Meghan Jacobs, with the help of a friend of more than 15 years, photographer Jessie Ellex, planned a maternity photo shoot that resulted in more than 600 photos.

"The tone of photo shoot was very mixed," Ellex, 29, told ABC News. "It was, of course, very somber, but bittersweet, knowing Meghan and Lennox have the support of the Greenville Police Department."

 Ellex said the six-hour photo shoot started with just Meghan Jacobs and her mother, but they were later joined by officers.

"When the police officers met us around 7:30 [p.m.] all I could do was fight back tears. But we all pushed through," she recalled.

In many of the photos, Allen Jacobs' fellow officers and a police dog posed behind the widow. The photo shoot also featured her late husband's patrol car, his uniform, his badge and even the flag that had been on his casket.

 In a caption on Facebook, Ellex noted that the "flag was never disrespected and never touched the ground."

Ellex said Meghan enjoyed the photos and that she is relieved because "Meghan is like a sister to me, so when she met Allen he became an important part of my life just like Meghan."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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