It’s a good day to be an American gaming enthusiast. Sony just announced plans to bump up the price of the PlayStation 5 in almost all global markets, but not the U.S.
In health care news, the Biden administration, seemingly bolstered by recent court rulings on the state level, has vowed to take further action to protect abortion access.
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Biden vows more abortion action after state rulings
The White House on Thursday hailed a ruling by a federal judge in Idaho late Wednesday that temporarily halted part of the state’s abortion ban from taking effect, while vowing further action to safeguard access to abortions in emergency situations.
- “Yesterday, a federal Idaho district court determined that women in Idaho will continue to receive life-saving and health-preserving emergency care — including abortion care,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “This ruling will prevent serious harm to women in Idaho.”
- The ruling was a major win for the Biden administration. But it came just hours after a court in Texas had the exact opposite ruling.
Split screen: The White House sharply criticized an earlier ruling in Texas blocking guidance issued by the Biden administration requiring doctors to offer care to pregnant people in emergencies, including abortions, even if it conflicts with state law.
The guidance was released by the Department of Health and Human Services in July.
What’s next? “Americans across the country and of all backgrounds agree that women should have the right to make their own personal health care decisions and to receive life-saving medical care, without interference from politicians, and the President will continue to take action to protect women’s access to lifesaving health care,” Jean-Pierre said Thursday.
Jean-Pierre did not specify what further actions President Biden could take.
Judge blocks part of Idaho’s abortion ban
A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked Idaho’s abortion ban from taking effect during medical emergencies, ruling that it conflicts with federal law.
- U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that the state’s near total ban on abortion violates the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a law that requires providers to offer medically stabilizing treatment in an emergency, even if that care is an abortion.
- Much of the abortion ban will take effect Thursday, but the state will not be allowed to prosecute anyone who is performing an abortion in an emergency medical situation while the lawsuit from the Justice Department is argued.
Partial victory: The lawsuit marked the Biden administration’s most aggressive action on preserving abortion access ever since the Supreme Court overturnedRoe v. Wade.
The White House touted the ruling as a win, even though the rest of the law was still allowed to take effect.
Under the ban, abortion is illegal even in the case of a medical emergency or complication, with exceptions for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother, and Idaho doctors could be criminally prosecuted for performing the procedure.
Idaho was one of three states, alongside Tennessee and Texas, with “trigger laws” that went into effect on Thursday.
COURT UPHOLDS INJUNCTION BLOCKING GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE BAN
A federal court has upheld an injunction temporarily blocking an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youth under 18, ruling that a lower court did not abuse its power in granting the injunction.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled the preliminary injunction that has blocked the enforcement of Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” for more than a year will remain in place until an ongoing legal battle over its constitutionality is settled.
How we got here:
- The measure, passed by the legislature in March 2021, prohibits doctors in the state from providing or recommending gender-affirming medical care including puberty blockers and hormones to minors. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) vetoed the bill, also referred to as Act 626, last year, calling it a “vast government overreach.”
- Hutchinson’s veto was quickly overridden by the legislature, but the law was blocked by a district court judge before it could take effect. Lawyers for the state appealed that decision, arguing that District Court Judge James M. Moody Jr. had abused the court’s discretion in issuing the injunction.
On Thursday, the higher court ruled the judge had not. The court also affirmed arguments made by plaintiffs in the case that transgender youth will suffer “irreparable harm” absent a preliminary injunction and enforcing the law would prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.”
PFIZER’S RSV VAX CANDIDATE SAFE, EFFECTIVE IN OLDER ADULTS
Pfizer announced that their new RSV vaccine candidate is more than 85 percent effective in preventing severe lower respiratory tract illness in older adults, according to a statement on the company’s website.
They define severe illness as three or more symptoms. The vaccine candidate is more than 66 percent effective at preventing illness overall, defined as two or more symptoms. The company tested this vaccine candidate in about 37,000 people ages 60 and older and are looking to recruit a total of 40,000.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a group of viruses that cause cold-like symptoms, including runny nose, coughing and sneezing. When it causes severe illness, it can lead to bronchiolitis (inflammation in the small airways in the lungs) or pneumonia (infection in the lungs), in children under the age of 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are a few companies working on RSV vaccine candidates, and Pfizer in particular has announced results from their phase 3 clinical trials of their version called RSVpreF.
The potential impact: Worldwide, RSV is suggested to be the reason for hospitalizations of 336,000 older adults each year, resulting in 14,000 deaths, according to a study from 2020.
Fauci compares monkeypox outbreak to HIV epidemic
The White House’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci advised against making the same assumptions about the current monkeypox outbreak that were made during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Fauci and H. Clifford Lane, deputy director for clinical research and special projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), published a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday in which they reflected on the similarities between the monkeypox outbreak and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which both men spent much of their careers studying.
The two researchers noted the obvious similarities, namely that most monkeypox cases have so far been detected among men who have sex with men. While the main mode of transmission for monkeypox is believed to be through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, they observed that some early data has suggested sexual transmission may play a role in the spread of the virus.
Don’t assume: “Given how little we know about the epidemiologic characteristics of the current outbreak, it is prudent to heed an observation made during the first year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic: ‘… any assumption that it will remain restricted to a particular segment of our society is truly an assumption without a scientific basis,’” Fauci and Lane wrote.
- To better understand the virus, the two infectious disease specialists called for further studies and surveys as well as continued surveillance of new cases.
- “Thus, the challenge to the public health and research communities during this time of emergency response is to ensure the efficient and equitable availability and distribution of existing countermeasures to those in need of them while at the same time conducting the rigorous studies needed to define what the clinical efficacy may be, understand any potential safety concerns, and guide proper utilization,” they wrote.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- ‘So much more to do’: A hospital system’s campaign to confront racism — and resistance to change — makes early strides (Stat)
- WHO: Monkeypox cases drop 21%, reversing month-long increase (AP)
- Buyer’s remorse could be creeping in for GOP on abortion (Washington Post)
STATE BY STATE
- Texans who perform abortions now face up to life in prison, $100,000 fine (Texas Tribune)
- D.C. schools expand covid vaccine mandate, unlike most other districts (Washington Post)
- Health officials: Three Ga. children with monkeypox caught it at home (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Minnesota set to become “abortion access island” in the Midwest, but for whom? (ProPublica)
THE HILL OP-EDS
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.