'It wasn't planned': Twin brothers welcome baby boys hours apart

_jure/iStock(WOODBURY, Minn.) -- In an exciting coincidence, a set of twin brothers from Minnesota recently became dads on the same day.

Ashley and Pat Young's son Jack arrived at Woodwinds Hospital on Sept. 19 at 6:01 p.m.

Hours later, Jack's cousin Cooper Young, son of Felicia and Paul Young, was born at 11:49 p.m. The infants' fathers, Paul and Pat, are twins.

The happy coincidence surprised the babies' parents, especially since their fathers were born 2 minutes apart -- Pat Young is the older twin.

"When Pat texted and said, 'We're headed to the hospital,' Paul said, 'We're already here,'" Felicia Young told "Good Morning America."

"My doctor was [saying] a c-section was likely going to be needed. I was really hoping to avoid that," Felicia Young added. "We started pushing around 9. As we were getting to the end of it, everybody was looking up at the clock."

The Young families said despite what people think, they never planned for the boys to be born on the same day.

"Ashley and I had been trying to have kids for a year and it wasn't happening. We didn't even know they were trying," Pat Young told "GMA."

Ashley Young hopes Jack and Cooper grow up to be friends, she said.

"Now they'll get to share birthday parties," she said. "I think the kids will find it cool growing up, probably at least until they're teenagers."

Paul Young said he's thrilled about Jack and Cooper sharing birthdays, especially since he and his brother are so close.

"It's funny how fitting it is, especially since it wasn't planned," he said.

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Study reveals surprising link between DUI convictions and domestic violence involving guns

kali9/iStock(NEW YORK) --  Regulating firearm ownership for at-risk individuals, such as those with a prior felony or domestic violence convictions, is already written into federal law. Now, according to new research, there may be a reason to examine alcohol-related offenses as a precursor to partner violence, too.

Gun purchasers with prior convictions for driving under the influence were nearly three times more likely to be arrested in the future for domestic partner violence than gun purchasers who had no criminal history at the time of purchase, a study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs found.

The study utilized data from nearly 80,000 people between the ages of 21 and 49, who purchased a legal handgun in California in 2001.

"It shows very, very clearly that prior criminal history predicts future criminal history," Dr. Megan Ranney, professor at Brown University and chief research officer at the gun violence research group AFFIRM, told ABC News.

"People who have a tendency for risky behavior, continue to have a tendency for risky behavior," said Ranney, who was not connected to the new study.

Predicting risky behavior with firearms is particularly important in the context of intimate partner violence, Ranney explained, since victims are five times more likely to die if an abuser has access to a gun. Even when women don’t die, guns are a persistent threat to their collective safety and well-being. Nearly 1 million women say they’ve been shot at by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, and 4.5 million who report being bullied or coerced with a gun.

The study potentially helps fill a gap in our knowledge about violence, according to lead author Hannah Sybil Laqueur. While researchers have documented the connection between guns and intimate partner violence, and alcohol and intimate partner violence, there’s been less attention paid to the nexus of the three factors together, Laqueur, who is also an assistant professor at UC Davis Health, said.

In California, new research may prove to be more than hypothetical.

A 2013 bill that passed in the state would have prohibited firearm sales for 10 years to people who had two or more DUI convictions during a three-year period. The governor vetoed the bill at the time, on the basis that there wasn’t enough evidence linking non-violent crimes committed without a firearm to violent firearm crimes. A similar proposal was floated this year, citing a smaller UC Davis study with older data, that didn’t specifically examine intimate partner violence.

If the bill is put forth again next year, there’s much more robust data for policymakers to pull from.

"Given evidence that people who consume alcohol are at increased risk of violence, and intimate partner violence in particular, regulating firearm access may afford an important public health opportunity to reduce the risk and severity of that violence 10-year prohibition on firearm sales," the study authors wrote.

Loopholes that limit and hamstring background checks

While background checks are a popular policy, even among Republicans, 83% of whom support background checks for potential gun owners, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in early September, the evidence to support their effectiveness is moderate in some areas, and inconclusive in others.

The most glaring examples are recent mass shootings involving legal guns purchased by individuals who would have failed, or did fail, background checks and went on to kill. This summer in Odessa, Texas, for example, a gunman who was barred from buying a firearm because of his history of serious mental health problems and volatile behavior, was denied sale by a gun dealer, but went on to purchase an AR-15-style weapon privately, which he then used to shoot 32 people, killing seven of them.

In a review published in Health Affairs in conjunction with the domestic violence study Monday, Dr. Garen Wintemute set out to identify why background checks don’t seem to work at a population level.

One of the biggest problems is incomplete data, according to Wintemute, who directs the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program and the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center and has spent decades studying firearm violence.

For starters, except for federal agencies, a lot of the reporting on at-risk individuals -- from courts, psychiatric facilities, etc. -- is voluntary. Even when the information is available, not every state utilizes the state data they have to run checks. Some simply rely on federal data, meaning their examinations are less thorough.

Vague definitions of categories that would exclude someone from firearm ownership add a layer of subjectivity to the process, and even among those entities that are required to report, there’s a certain subset of sellers and buyers who don’t care about the rules.

A focus on DUIs, as shown in Ranney's statistics, may provide less subjectivity.

In so-called Second Amendment sanctuaries, where officials have publicly stated that they won’t enforce state background check laws, enforcement could be especially patchy.

Then there’s the loophole of private gun sales, once limited to gun shows, but with the internet, the private, background check-free marketplace is effectively everywhere.

In the face of these weak spots, Wintemute thinks the rules should be tightened. Re-education campaigns might drive down accidental non-compliance, and sting operations could target sellers who knowingly break the rules. Federal support for state and local reporting needs to continue, or increase, with a goal of 100% reporting -- and importantly -- timely reporting, since the risk of violence is highest after a disqualifying event.

"Any reforms to policy and practice will merit rigorous evaluation," Wintemute wrote in his review, stressing that making strides to plug those holes, could "substantially improve the checks’ effectiveness at the population level."

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3 infants die from bacteria at Pennsylvania hospital

RyanJLane/iStock(DANVILLE, Pa.) --  Eight premature infants were infected with a waterborne bacteria while in a neonatal intensive care unit. Three of the infants have died.

The babies were in the NICU at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Out of "an abundance of caution," the medical center will temporarily direct mothers who are delivering prematurely -- before 32 weeks gestation -- to other area facilities, the center reported.

The infants had contracted a pseudomonas infection caused by pseudomonas bacteria. This waterborne bacteria is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections and causes severe symptoms in those with compromised immune systems.

The center found no evidence of the bacteria throughout the hospital, said Dr. Mark Shelley, director of infection prevention at Geisinger.

Instead, hospital officials believe that the bacteria was limited to the intensive care unit.

"It's really too soon to say exactly where the organism is coming from," Shelley said. He said that the center has done extra cleaning, put filters on taps and changed its medical center processes. The facility is also working closely with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to eliminate the bacteria and prevent additional cases.

The hospital is dedicated to finding out why the infections occurred and not letting it happen again, Shelly said.

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What to know about chronic pain after Sia revealed multiple rare medical issues

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Pop singer Sia recently revealed in a tweet that she suffers from chronic pain due to a rare disorder that affects just one in 5,000 people worldwide.

"Hey, I'm suffering with chronic pain, a neurological disease, ehlers danlos and I just wanted to say to those of you suffering from pain, whether physical or emotional, I love you, keep going," she wrote. "Life is f------ hard. Pain is demoralizing, and you're not alone."

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton weighed in on the star's medical issues and explained the symptoms and what this reveals for others who suffer from chronic illness.

"The important thing is that it brings attention to two health conditions that affect a lot of people -- and this really helps them socially and emotionally," she said.

What is Graves' disease?

Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the overproduction of thyroid hormone and affects about one in 200 people.

Symptoms can include weight loss, heat intolerance, sweating or insomnia.

The disease can cause fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, weight loss and bulging eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a genetic syndrome and connective tissue disorder that can affect bones, skin, joints and blood vessel walls.

Most people with the disorder have overly flexible joints and fragile skin.

Dr. Ashton said that Ehlers-Danlos syndrome "could be as rare as one in 5,000 to one in 20,000."

How to manage several medical issues

To manage a diagnosis appropriately, Dr. Ashton said it can be helpful to look for areas that overlap, like a Venn diagram.

In this way, Ashton said, you approach the medical issues holistically and treat the whole person rather than a body part or a diagnosis.

She added that sometimes it can be difficult to make a diagnosis when a person already has multiple conditions.
Are there other aspects of the conditions to consider?

The emotional and psychological aspects of any condition are as important as the physical ones.

How to manage chronic pain

While there are more options than ever, Ashton said its about finding what works best for the individual and finding something with low risk and high benefits.

Some choices in managing chronic pain are cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, medication and hypnosis.

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6-year-old girl with cerebral palsy reacts to taking steps unaided

adamkaz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The moment a 6-year-old girl with cerebral palsy took steps without the aid of her walker went viral after her mother caught the scene on camera.

“Most of you know my daughter has cerebral palsy and needs her Walker to get around,” Lovely Janae wrote on Facebook. “She decided to get up and try walking without her walker and braces. My hero is not someone older than me it’s my 6 year old princess.”

The video quickly gained attention, and had over 925,000 views and 22,000 shares as of Monday morning.

"She’s a little hero," one viewer commented, while another said, "Her surprised face when she realized she was walking is priceless!"

“I’m so proud of my baby,” Janae later wrote. “She proved that anything is possible.”

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Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to trio who discovered how cells sense oxygen

Totojang/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Three scientists have been announced as the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how cells “sense and adapt to oxygen availability,” the Nobel Committee announced Monday.

William G. Kaelin, Jr, Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza will share equally the 9 million kronor ($918,000) cash award.

The Karolinska Institute said that the discoveries made by the three men "have fundamental importance for physiology and have paved the way for promising new strategies to fight anemia, cancer and many other diseases."

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3 things you might be getting wrong about the vaping epidemic, as lung injuries top 1,000 cases

Maricopa County Sheriffs Office(NEW YORK) --  Vaping-related injuries and deaths are continuing to mount, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting 1,080 lung injuries in 48 states and the Virgin Islands and 18 confirmed deaths from 15 states. A 19th death was reported in Connecticut.

The outbreak is "continuing at a brisk pace," Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC said during a news briefing Thursday.

In addition to the updated injury and death count, researchers from the Mayo Clinic said in a report released Wednesday that some patients’ lung damage resembled chemical burns.

"This is a critical issue," Schuchat said.

States have responded to the reports with force. Massachusetts banned all vaping products for four months. New York, Michigan and Rhode Island, as well as Los Angeles county, rushed to ban flavored e-cigarettes. San Francisco banned e-cigarette salts. And California’s health department issued a “stop vaping” advisory to the public.

As the legislative frenzy unfolds, some experts said separate problems associated with e-cigarettes and vaping are being conflated. The emergence of the lung injuries and deaths, seemingly out of nowhere, has sparked fear and confusion about what products may be dangerous and why as well as how many people are at risk.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have exploded on the market since they first started gaining popularity in 2007. And the sheer number and variety of products in the retail market as well as the black market, including products containing THC, have made determining the cause of the disease outbreak that much more difficult.

Here is what to know:

Problem no. 1: E-cigarettes or E-Joints?

While public health officials haven't identified a single culprit in the more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related lung injuries, officials say many of the people who have become sick reported vaping THC.

Acting FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless said agency testing led the FDA to believe people were mixing pure THC with other oils to dilute the product, creating illegal and untested vaping liquids.

Seventy-eight percent of the more than 500 patients sampled reported using THC products, Schuchat said during Thursday's news briefing.

“A significant fraction of the THC products are contaminated with vitamin E acetate,” Sharpless said during a congressional hearing Sept. 25. The oil, generally used on skin, has “no business being in a pulmonary product,” Sharpless said. He believes vitamin E acetate was added as a cutting agent.

THC is the active ingredient in marijuana and because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, products containing THC can’t be regulated by agencies like the FDA. Federal officials say states that have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana are responsible for regulating the safety of those products.

A crackdown on counterfeit or adulterated THC pods would require multiple federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, working with states to identify the sources of contaminated pods and eliminate them, arrest people manufacturing or selling them illegally, or block imported vaping products or supplies coming into the U.S. from other countries, Sharpless and Schuchat said in the Sept. 25 hearing.

So instead of lumping all vaping products into the “e-cigarette” category, Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health, refers to THC devices as “e-joints” or “vape pens.”

The distinction, he said, is important, given that a handful of states have already enacted emergency regulations banning e-cigarettes.

“Their whole rationale is that we have people dying from the outbreak,” Siegel said. “They’re declaring an emergency because of marijuana vaping products and the response is to ban e-cigarettes.

“It's a complete non sequitur.”

Problem no. 2: What is the 'vaping epidemic'?

Separate from the recent trend of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths, public health officials have used the phrase “vaping epidemic” to describe the popularity of vaping devices like Juul. Juul’s incoming CEO said the company’s future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry."

"We appreciate the work of the CDC, FDA, and other public health authorities, and are confident that they will get to the bottom of this issue," a Juul spokesperson told ABC News.

Until a late September news conference, when CDC officials pointed to the risks of THC devices, the CDC “completely conflated the two issues,” Siegel said.

“I think a lot of damage was done by that,” he said.

"While this investigation is ongoing, CDC recommends that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC," said Brian King, a spokesperson for the CDC.

While officials and advocates are especially concerned about the growing popularity of these products among young people, because they have a high concentration of nicotine, which can have harmful effects on the developing brain, including addiction, those worries appear to be separate from the spate of acute lung injuries and deaths gripping the nation.

Prior to the newfound popularity of e-cigarettes, agencies reported declining rates of tobacco use among middle and high school students, but teen e-cigarette use has risen sharply since 2017, according to a government funded survey released last month.

Research has also found that teenagers who smoked e-cigarettes were more likely to experiment with traditional cigarettes than non-smokers were.

The concern about flavored e-cigarettes is tied to this trend because many young people report being introduced to the devices through flavored products, and experts and officials say they are concerned that companies are actively trying to appeal to younger customers through flavors that mask the taste of tobacco.

The rising rates of youth use have also increased the focus on how e-cigarette companies are advertising their products, including on social media where young people are likely to be exposed to advertising that portrays nicotine products in a positive light.

Problem no. 3: Are e-cigarettes safe?

Apart from the vaping outbreak and federal investigation, there’s a third issue: experts know very little about how safe -- or unsafe -- nicotine e-cigarettes are compared to traditional cigarettes.

To that end, the CDC has warned that "the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs."

“I wish we could have these dramatic, awesome data sets showing us the answer,” said Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who researches the long-term effects of e-cigarette use on health.

While much of Crotty Alexander’s research is on animals, which can’t necessarily be extrapolated to apply to human health, Crotty Alexander said that based on her research, she believes daily vaping is going to cause disease over time.

However, while non-smokers shouldn’t pick up the habit, she said, “it’s hard to believe that e-cigarettes would be equally harmful or worse than conventional tobacco, because conventional tobacco is so bad."

The CDC advises that while e-cigarettes have the "potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products," scientists "still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking."

So while blanket bans may help deter teen smoking, they could potentially harm adult smokers trying to quit.

But forgoing a complete ban has greater risks, according to Crotty Alexander.

“We are setting up this whole new generation of non-smokers to become addicted to nicotine,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


73 Catholic schools in Washington end religious vaccine exemptions

skynesher/iStock(SEATTLE) -- The Archdiocese of Seattle ended religious vaccine exemptions for students in its 73 private Catholic schools across Washington state.

The new policy, which affects 22,000 students, will allow students to claim exemptions only for medical reasons. All other students must be vaccinated to attend school.

Less than 2% of those students currently claim a non-medical exemption, according to the archdiocese.

"It's great that the schools and the church are standing up for vaccines," said Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new policy goes into effect on January 1, but students have a grace period that extends until the end of the academic year to get vaccinated. Reasons for medical exemptions might include experiencing a severe allergic reaction after a previous vaccine or being immunocompromised.

2019 has been a crippling year for measles in the United States, with more than 1,200 cases, the most since 1992, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York City suffered a major measles outbreak this year, its worst in nearly three decades, and the national as a whole barely held on to its coveted measles elimination status.

The return of the highly infectious disease is indicative of a larger trend. During the past year, the United Kingdom, Greece, Venezuela and Brazil have all lost their measles elimination status, in part, due to misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.

"We're in this new normal," Hotez said. "The CDC feels that we've escaped calling off measles elimination, but I think it's relevant that we still have large pockets of kids who are not vaccinated."

"And in Europe," he added. "It's widespread."

In response to the U.S. outbreaks, New York, California, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia, have banned all non-medical vaccine exemptions.

While some Catholics believe that receiving a vaccine grown in a fetal cell would make them complicit in an abortion, the Catholic Church is not opposed to immunizations.

"Since this is the official position of the Catholic Church, and Catholic Schools reflect Catholic teachings, we decided it was time to update our policy," said Helen McClenahan, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, who has four kids currently enrolled in Catholic schools.

Not everyone is happy about the new vaccine policy.

A group of 20 protesters, led by Jena Dalpez, the program director of Informed Choice Washington, an anti-vaccine group, gathered earlier in the week to fight the decision.

"This policy strips parents of their constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion," said Dalpez, adding that individuals should be able to make their own medical decisions. While she doesn't have kids attending Catholic schools, Dalpez said families she's spoken with say they would rather pull their kids out of school than vaccinate them.

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Quadriplegic man walks with an exoskeleton he controls with his brain

iStock(PARIS) -- A quadriplegic man was able to move his arms and walk using an exoskeleton controlled by signals sent from his brain and a harness suspended from the ceiling, French researchers said in a new study.

The research centered on a 28-year-old man who was paralyzed from the shoulders down, and his first steps and arm movements were the culmination of a two-year project that was published in The Lancet Neurology journal on Thursday.

An exoskeleton allowed him to move all four of his paralyzed limbs by recording and then decoding his brain signals.

"Ours' is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed for long term use to activate all four limbs," Alim-Louis Benabid, the executive board president of the biomedical research center Clinatec and a professor emeritus at the University of Grenoble in France, said in a statement announcing the findings.

"Previous brain-computer studies have used more invasive recording devices implanted beneath the outermost membrane of the brain, where they eventually stop working," he added. "They have also been connected to wires, limited to creating movement in just one limb, or have focused on restoring movement to patients' own muscles."

The mind-controlled exoskeleton works by implanting recording devices into the patient and collecting brain signals. These signals were then sent through a decoding algorithm that translated the signals into the movements. From there, it sent the movement commands to the exoskeleton to carry them out.

Over the two years of the study, the patient trained the device to understand an increasing number of his thoughts, thus increasing the number of movement commands it could pick up simply from his brain signals.

"Our findings could move us a step closer to helping tetraplegic patients to drive computers using brain signals alone, perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility," Stephan Chabardes, neurosurgeon from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Grenoble of Grenoble-Alpes, France, added in a statement.

While researchers warned that the device is still a long way from becoming widely available, the early findings offered hope that it could have the potential to improve paralyzed patients' quality of life and independence.

Researchers say their next step is to figure out how to let the patient walk without requiring the harness.

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Supreme Court to hear Louisiana abortion case

Casimiro/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday added abortion rights to its docket for the new term, agreeing to hear a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The case, which will likely be scheduled for oral arguments in early 2020, will be the first involving abortion for the court's new majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents, including President Donald Trump's two nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

It also comes amid a crush of state laws passed over the last two years aimed at sharply restricting -- or outright banning -- abortion, many with the express expectation that legal challenges may end up before the high court.

The Louisiana law, signed in 2014, requires "that every physician who performs or induces an abortion shall 'have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than thirty miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced.'"

Admitting privileges allow a physician to practice medicine at a given hospital. Doctors are usually required to apply for the privileges and meet qualifications set forth by the facility. Critics of the Louisiana law say the requirement is costly, burdensome and likely to drive many abortion providers out of business, which in turn will severely limit women's access to the procedure.

Louisiana only has three licensed abortion clinics. Supporters of the law say the state has the right to regulate the clinics to ensure safety.

In February, the court granted one clinic's request for an emergency stay of the law while the case proceeds. The 5-4 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined with members of the court's liberal wing, signaled the court's willingness to take up the case.

"The Supreme Court rightfully refused to uphold a brazen and unconstitutional attempt to ignore identical cases that are intended to shutter abortion clinics in the state," said lyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, at the time.

In 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a similar law in Texas that required doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and mandated that abortion clinics meet state requirements for licensed surgical centers. The majority, in a 5-3 decision, said the law created an "undue burden" on women seeking access to abortion.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the court's opinion. "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution."

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled, however, that Louisiana's 2014 law is substantively different from the Texas measure and should be upheld because it does not "impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women" in the state.

"The question is: has the chief justice been convinced that the Texas opinion is controlling," said Tom Goldstein, a constitutional lawyer and co-founder of SCOTUSblog. "I would say that this case will probably stand for the proposition that conservative, pro-life organizations do need to take care in the precise cases they bring to the court."

Opponents of abortion rights have been pushing state legislatures to adopt bold, sweeping restrictions on the procedure -- fully expecting legal challenges -- with an aim of giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to take them up and revisit the precedent set by the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

Through July 2019, states have enacted 58 new abortion restriction laws this year -- 26 of which would ban all or most abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Louisiana in May enacted a so-called "heartbeat" bill that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The bill was signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

"It's extremely unlikely that any of the bans will make it to SCOTUS this year," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jennifer Dalven. "But they don't need to take up a ban case to place limits on Roe."

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