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ROE V. WADE TURNS 47: Abortion rights groups are celebrating the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, but they’re also saying it’s time to enshrine more liberal abortion policies into state and federal laws.
In Congress, advocates are rallying behind the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would gut abortion regulations, and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, which would allow the government to pay for abortions through its health programs.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, said in a recent report that states should seek to loosen all restrictions on abortion, and organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America and the ACLU have gotten behind such bills in states. Megan Donovan, the group’s senior policy manager, wrote a USA Today op-ed this week asserting that “Roe is a floor not a ceiling” and pressing states to go further than the ruling by allowing abortion through pregnancy.
To review: Roe allowed abortion for at least up to viability, which is generally understood to be 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The lesser-known ruling issued on the same day, Doe v. Bolton, said abortions were allowed after viability to protect a woman’s health, defined broadly to refer to emotional, physical, or psychological health, as well as a woman’s family circumstances and age. An estimated 1% of reported abortions, or roughly 8,600 abortions annually, occur in the third trimester.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have no gestational limits on abortion, while most states limit the procedure in some way, including through waiting periods, gestational limits, or regulations on providers. The support for loosening abortion restrictions isn’t there in Congress, but Democrats running to challenge President Trump in November, with the exception of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, have supported doing away with all limits on abortion. The candidates also support allowing the government to pay for abortions.
The majority of those polled in a survey out Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 62%, said that abortion should be legal with some limits. Of those who don’t fall in that group, 27% believe abortion should be “legal in all cases” and 11% think abortion should be “illegal in all cases.” The poll didn’t ask voters whether they thought abortion should be limited to earlier stages of pregnancy, but Gallup surveys have shown support for abortion drops when it’s performed later in a pregnancy.
The Kaiser Family Foundation poll also found that 69% of respondents don’t want Roe overturned, but when the question was narrowed to Republicans, it showed 57% said they would want to see the ruling overturned. Trump has vowed to nominate only anti-abortion justices, and this March the Supreme Court is hearing a case over abortion that looks at regulations on doctors. More than 200 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, have asked the justices to rule more broadly and revisit or overturn Roe.
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MAJORITY SUPPORTS ABORTION RESTRICTIONS HEADED BEFORE SUPREME COURT: The survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 69% of voters support obligating doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. When presented with counterarguments saying that abortion complications are rare and that patients who do have complications can still get help at local hospitals, support dropped 17 percentage points but still constituted a slight majority at 52%. The survey showed 76% of those who originally answered in the affirmative stuck with their position.
The poll showed support for admitting privileges despite also finding that 67% of respondents think regulations on abortion providers are meant to make it more difficult for women to access abortion, compared with 32% who say they are to protect women’s health and safety.
FIRST CASE OF MYSTERY VIRUS FROM CHINA ARRIVES IN THE U.S.: A Seattle-area man in his 30s is the first in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the coronavirus sweeping through China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The man had recently returned from Wuhan, China, the city from which the virus originated. He arrived in the U.S. before airport screenings began Jan. 17, but because he wasn’t yet exhibiting symptoms and he would not have tipped off health officials anyway. Luckily, he sought medical attention soon after seeing symptoms. “His actions gave us a head start … The risk to the public is low,” said John Wiesman, the Washington secretary of health.
Officials at the World Health Organization are meeting Wednesday to discuss whether they should designate the virus a “public health emergency of international concern.” Such a designation would alert other countries to send aid and would improve reporting of the illness.
Heads up: The number of cases keeps rising: The virus has infected at least 470 people, with 17 deaths reported.
TRUMP: ‘WE HAVE IT UNDER CONTROL’: Trump said on CNBC Wednesday morning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that, when it comes to the coronavirus, “we have it under control.” He also said he trusts China’s president Xi Jinping and the Chinese government to be transparent about reporting new cases of the virus.
TEENS WORKING WITH THE FDA TO TELL ‘CAUTIONARY TALES’ ABOUT VAPING: The Food and Drug Administration will show a new series of videos on TV and social media featuring teens discussing the side effects, such as depression and anxiety, of using e-cigarettes. The series of four videos called “My Vaping Mistake” is part of the FDA’s “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign.
MOTHER CHARGED WITH NEGLECT AFTER METH-TAINTED BREAST MILK KILLED HER BABY: A mother in Indiana was charged with two counts of “neglect of a dependent resulting in death,” after her breast milk, tainted with methamphetamine, killed her two-month-old baby. The Marshall County coroner’s office has determined the baby’s death a homicide.
The Hill Trump health chief: ‘Not a need’ for Obamacare replacement plan right now
MedPage Today Disparities in maternity leave at top medical schools
Reuters U.S. Supreme Court lets Flint, Michigan residents sue over water contamination
The Wall Street Journal As virus spreads, isolated Taiwan risks being a loophole in war on epidemics
Los Angeles Times Use-of-force incidents against homeless people are up, LAPD reports
WEDNESDAY | Jan. 22
Roe v. Wade anniversary.
THURSDAY | Jan. 23
1 p.m. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and webinar on “Addressing the Dual Epidemic of Opioid Use Disorder and Infectious Diseases.” Details.
FRIDAY | Jan. 24
March for Life. Details.