Health Highlights: June 26, 2013
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Texas Abortion Bill Fails After Filibuster Attempt
A Texas lawmaker spoke for 10 straight hours Tuesday in a failed filibuster, but her efforts ultimately helped to thwart a Republican effort to pass a highly restrictive abortion bill in the state.
Sen. Wendy Davis began her attempt at a 13-hour filibuster late Tuesday morning. Her goal was to keep speaking past midnight, the deadline for the Senate to approve the bill and send it to Gov. Rick Perry to sign into law, CNN reported.
But Davis' marathon filibuster ended at about 10 p.m. after the chairman ruled that she had gone off topic. However, a member of the Senate then moved that the ruling be appealed, putting the status of the ruling in doubt.
The next few hours featured a confusing mix of procedural maneuvering. At 3 a.m., Lt. Governor David Dewhurst declared to bill dead and the special session over, CNN reported.
"This is an unprecedented situation," said Jeremy Warren, spokesman for Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis. "I have been here 18 years and have never seen anything like this. We are still officially still in session because we never adjourned."
Perry may ask for another session to deal with the bill. "The governor reserves the right to call the legislature back into special session anytime during the interim," according to a statement from his office.
"In Texas, we value all life, and we've worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child," Perry said. "We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause."
Planned Parenthood said the Republican-dominated Senate's failure to pass the bill was a victory for women.
"This fight showed once again that we are all better off when women and their doctors -- not politicians -- are the ones making medical decisions," said Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, CNN reported. "We made history tonight, but we know this isn't the end of the fight to protect women's access to health care in Texas."
Under the bill, most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be banned and abortion clinics and the doctors who work at them would face tighter restrictions. The bill would close most abortion clinics in Texas, critics said.
At the start of her filibuster, Davis said she was speaking for families whose "personal relationships with their doctor and their creator" would be violated by the bill," CNN reported.
"These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state," Davis said. "And sadly, he's being abetted by legislative leaders who either share this blind partisanship or simply do not have the strength to oppose it."
She spent much of the 10 hours reading testimony and messages from women who are opposed to the bill and shared accounts of the difficulties they, their relatives or friends had to deal with before birth control and abortion were legalized, CNN reported.
"Women realize that these bills will not protect their heath," Davis said. "They will only reduce their access to abortion providers and limit their ability to make their own family-planning decisions."
Davis' stand attracted nationwide attention.
Calif. Inmates Must Be Moved Due to Fungus Threat: Judge
Thousands of inmates must be moved out of two California prisons because they are at high risk of being infected with a potentially deadly airborne fungus, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued the order for mostly black, Filipino and medically at-risk inmates at Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons. They account for about 3,250 of the two prisons' 8,100 inmates, the Associated Press reported.
The judge made the ruling because these inmates face the greatest risk from valley fever, a fungal infection that originates in the soil of the San Joaquin Valley, where the two prisons are located.
Henderson gave the state 90 days to fully comply. The state is reviewing the judge's order, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman told the AP.
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