many new quandaries for the women, clients and medical personnel. Viktoria and her family face one such dilemma: Her payment will help them survive, but it is far from clear where they should go after her recovery from a C-section. The family has remained in the apartment rented by the clinic in Kyiv; her hometown, Kharkiv, is still hit by regular shelling.

For many surrogate mothers, the question was about where to deliver. Threats included not just fighting, but how the authorities established by the Russian occupation government would handle a surrogate birth.

A surrogate named Nadia lived in a village in Russia-occupied territory that was not at risk of artillery shelling. But she decided to evacuate to Ukrainian-controlled territory to deliver the baby, lest the biological parents be deprived of custody, and she lose the fee.

She spent two days with her husband and 11-year-old daughter sleeping in a car on a roadside that is sometimes shelled, waiting to cross the front line.

Ms. Burkovska, the small-agency owner, went into the war with two stranded surrogate babies in her care. In contrast to most surrogacy agencies, she cares for newborns in her own home before biological parents pick them up. For a time, she had to shelter in a basement with the newborns, her partner and her own children.

As more babies arrived in the first months of war, she wound up with seven newborns whose biological parents could not immediately retrieve them, as travel to wartime Ukraine became difficult and as some remaining coronavirus restrictions, like China’s, caused delays.

Ms. Burkovska’s own children helped care for the infants until their parents could get them. By August, most of the parents had arrived to pick up their children.

A Chinese client with BioTexCom, Zhang Zong, was one of those who struggled to reach Kyiv through travel delays. He said the wait had been excruciating. “I was very worried because of the war,” he said.

Meeting his 6-month-old son, he said, was both thrilling and a little strange. “I was extremely excited when they let me hug him,” Mr. Zhang said. “He has been here for a long time and everyone hugs him, everyone likes him, and I am not so special.”

But he added that was only for now. “When he grows up,” Mr. Zhang said, “I can tell him this story.”

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Arizona Judge: State Can Enforce Near-Total Abortion Ban

The ruling means the state’s abortion clinics will have to shut down and anyone seeking an abortion will have to go out of state.

Arizona can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics statewide will have to stop providing the procedures to avoid the filing of criminal charges against doctors and other medical workers.

The judge lifted a decades-old injunction that blocked enforcement of the law on the books since before Arizona became a state. The only exemption to the ban is if the woman’s life is in jeopardy.

The ruling means the state’s abortion clinics will have to shut down and anyone seeking an abortion will have to go out of state. The ruling takes effect immediately, although an appeal is possible. Planned Parenthood and two other large providers said they were halting abortions.

Abortion providers have been on a roller coaster since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women a constitutional right to an abortion. At first providers shut down operations, then re-opened, and now have to close again.

Planned Parenthood had urged the judge not to allow enforcement, and its president declared that the ruling “takes Arizonans back to living under an archaic, 150-year-old law.”

“This decision is out of step with the will of Arizonans and will cruelly force pregnant people to leave their communities to access abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who had urged the judge to lift the injunction so the ban could be enforced, cheered.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the Legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” Brnovich said in a statement. “I have and will continue to protect the most vulnerable Arizonans.”

The ruling comes amid an election season in which Democrats have seized on abortion rights as a potent issue. Sen. Mark Kelly, under a challenge from Republican Blake Masters, said it “will have a devastating impact on the freedom Arizona women have had for decades” to choose an abortion. Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, called it the product of a decadeslong attack on reproductive freedom by Republicans that can only be fended off by voters in November.

Masters and Kari Lake, the Republican running against Hobbs, both back abortion restrictions. Their campaigns had no immediate comment.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ruled more than a month after hearing arguments on Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction.

The near-total abortion ban was enacted decades before Arizona secured statehood in 1912. Prosecutions were halted after the injunction was handed down following the Roe decision. Even so, the Legislature reenacted the law in 1977.

Assistant Attorney General Beau Roysden told Johnson at an Aug. 19 hearing that since Roe has been overruled, the sole reason for the injunction blocking the old law is gone and she should allow it to be enforced. Under that law, anyone convicted of performing a surgical abortion or providing drugs for a medication abortion could face two to five years in prison.

An attorney for Planned Parenthood and its Arizona affiliate argued that allowing the pre-statehood ban to be enforced would render more recent laws regulating abortion meaningless. Instead, she urged the judge to let licensed doctors perform abortions and let the old ban only apply to unlicensed practitioners.

The judge sided with Brnovich, saying that because the injunction was issued in 1973 only because of the Roe decision, it must be lifted in its entirety.

“The Court finds an attempt to reconcile fifty years of legislative activity procedurally improper in the context of the motion and record before it,” Johnson wrote. “While there may be legal questions the parties seek to resolve regarding Arizona statutes on abortion, those questions are not for this Court to decide here.”

In overturning Roe on June 24, the high court said states can regulate abortion as they wish.

A physician who runs a clinic providing abortions said she was dismayed but not surprised by the decision.

“It kind of goes with what I’ve been saying for a while now –- it is the intent of the people who run this state that abortion be illegal here,” Dr. DeShawn Taylor said. “Of course we want to hold onto hope in the back of our minds, but in the front of my mind I have been preparing the entire time for the total ban.”

Republicans control the Legislature, and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey is an abortion opponent who has signed every abortion law that reached his desk for the past eight years.

Johnson, the judge, said Planned Parenthood was free to file a new challenge. But with Arizona’s tough abortion laws and all seven Supreme Court justices appointed by Republicans, the chances of success appear slim.

What’s allowed in each state has shifted as legislatures and courts have acted since Roe was overturned. Before Friday’s ruling, bans on abortion at any point in pregnancy were in place in 12 Republican-led states.

In another state, Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions amid litigation over whether an 1849 ban is in effect. Georgia bans abortions once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. Florida and Utah have bans that kick in after 15 and 18 weeks gestation, respectively.

The ruling came a day before a new Arizona law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy takes effect. Signed by Ducey in March, the law was enacted in hopes that the Supreme Court would pare back limits on abortion regulations. Instead, it overturned Roe.

Ducey has argued that the new law he signed takes precedence over the pre-statehood law, but he did not send his attorneys to argue that before Johnson.

The old law was first enacted among a set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864. Arizona clinics have been performing about 13,000 abortions a year.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Election ’22: What Matters: The Fight Over Legal Abortion

By Newsy Staff
September 23, 2022

Today: a nationwide look at how the fight over legal abortion is impacting the midterms.

Election ’22: What Matters gives viewers a nationwide look at how the fight over legal abortion is impacting the midterms. Reproductive rights will be on the ballot in 5 states and have upended races across the country as candidates stake out their positions on one of the country’s most divisive issues.

In this episode, KXXV reporter Nick Bradshaw tells the story of how a “quintessentially pro-life” Texas woman’s complicated pregnancy was made more difficult by new laws. 

Election 22: What Matters airs at 8:30 p.m. Fridays on Newsy, and re-runs air at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays on Newsy. Each week dives into one of the issues that will decide the midterm elections.

Source: newsy.com

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McCarthy Unveils House GOP’s Midterm Agenda In Pennsylvania

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday directly confronted President Joe Biden and the party in power, choosing battleground Pennsylvania to unveil a midterm election agenda with sweeping Trump-like promises despite the House GOP’s sometimes spotty record of delivering and governing in Congress.

McCarthy, who is poised to seize the speaker’s gavel if Republicans win control of the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy former Speaker Newt Gingrich used to spark voter enthusiasm and sweep House control in a 1994 landslide.

The House GOP’s “Commitment to America” gives a nod to that earlier era but updates it for Trump, with economic, border security and social policies to rouse the former president’s deep well of supporters in often-forgotten regions like this rusty landscape outside Pittsburgh.

“What we’re going to roll out today is a ‘Commitment to America’ in Washington — not Washington, D.C., but Washington County, Pennsylvania,” McCarthy said at a manufacturing facility. “Because it’s about you, it’s not about us.”

On Friday, the House Republican leader stood with a cross-section of other lawmakers to roll out the GOP agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition that makes up the House minority — and the Republican Party itself. 

The GOP has shifted from its focus on small government, low taxes and individual freedoms to a more populist, nationalist and, at times, far-right party, essentially still led by Trump, who remains popular despite the deepening state and federal investigations against him.

Propelled by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” voters, the Republicans need to pick up just a few seats to win back control of the narrowly-split House, and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from guaranteed.

While Republicans and Trump did pass tax cuts into law, the GOP’s last big campaign promise, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, collapsed in failure. A long line of Republican speakers, including Gingrich, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, have been forced from office or chose early retirement, often ground down by party infighting.

“House Republicans are really good at running people out of town,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.

McCarthy, first elected to office in 2006, is among the remaining political survivors of those House Republican battles, and he’s a new style of leader who has shown more ability to communicate than to legislate.

A key architect of the Republican “tea party” takeover in 2010, the California Republican personally recruited the newcomers to Congress — many who had never served in public office and are long gone. McCarthy was an early Trump endorser, and has remained close to the former president, relying on his high-profile endorsements to propel GOP candidates for Congress. He abandoned an earlier bid to become speaker when support from his colleagues drifted.

The “Commitment to America” reflects the strength of McCarthy’s abilities, but also his weaknesses. He spent more than a year pulling together the House GOP’s often warring factions — from the far-right MAGA to what’s left of the more centrist ranks — to produce a mostly agreed upon agenda.

But the one-page “commitment” preamble is succinct, essentially a pocket card, though it is expected to be filled in with the kind of detail that is needed to make laws.

“They talk about a lot of problems,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “They don’t have a lot of solutions.”

In traveling to battleground Pennsylvania, a state where President Biden holds emotional ties from his early childhood, McCarthy intends to counter the president’s fiery Labor Day weekend speech, in which he warned of rising GOP extremism after the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, with a more upbeat message.

The event is billed as more of a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers rather than a stirring address in a uniquely contested state.

Along with as many as five House seats Republicans believe they can pick up in Pennsylvania in November, the state has one of the most watched Senate races, between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, that will help determine control of Congress. Top of the ticket is the seismic governor’s matchup between the GOP’s Doug Mastriano, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.

“If you are a hardline, populist, and you really want anger, Kevin’s a little frustrating because he’s not going to be angry enough for you,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to have your values implemented and passed in the legislation, he is a really good leader and organizer.”

Gingrich has been working with McCarthy and his team to craft the style and substance of the proposal. The former speaker, who has been asked by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand Thursday in Washington, joining McCarthy as he unveiled the plans privately to House Republicans, who have been mixed on the approach.

Mostly, the GOP pocket card hits broad strokes — energy independence, security and an end to liberal social policies, particularly in schooling.

Conservative Republicans complain privately that McCarthy isn’t leaning hard enough into their priorities, as he tries to appeal to a broader swath of voters and hold the party together.

Many are eager to launch investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s family, with some calling for impeachment. Legislatively, some House Republicans want to fulfill the party’s commitment to banning abortion, supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In a sign of the pressures ahead for McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to plans from Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to prevent many gender reassignment procedures for minors, celebrating the Georgian as courageous for taking such a hardline approach.

She and others were invited to join Friday’s event, as McCarthy seeks their backing.

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has advocated for withholding federal funds as leverage for policy priorities, the tactic that engineered past government shutdowns.

“Putting out like, you know, principles about, ‘Well, we’ll secure the border.’ I mean, okay, but what are we gonna do about it?” Roy said. “The end of the day, I want specific actionable items that’s going to show that we’re going to fight for the American people.”

It’s notable that McCarthy alone has proposed a plan if Republicans win control of the House chamber. In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell has declined to put forward an agenda, preferring to simply run against President Biden and Democrats in the midterm election.

“Kevin’s done a very good job of being in position to become the speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with that? Schlapp said. “This helps as a road map.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Judge Blocks Indiana Abortion Ban A Week After It Took Effect

By Associated Press
September 22, 2022

The ban replaced Indiana laws that prohibited abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and restricted them after the 13th week.

An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue that it violates the state constitution.

Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure.

The ban was approved by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. That made Indiana the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge wrote “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.

The state attorney general’s office and top Republican legislative leaders didn’t immediately comment on the order.

The ban, which includes limited exceptions, replaced Indiana laws that generally prohibited abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and tightly restricted them after the 13th week.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing the abortion clinics, filed the lawsuit Aug. 31 and argued the ban would “prohibit the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, will have a devastating and irreparable impact on the plaintiffs and, more importantly, their patients and clients.”

Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, pointed to the state constitution’s declaration of rights including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in arguing before the judge on Monday that it included a right to privacy and to make decisions on whether to have children.

The state attorney general’s office said the court should uphold the ban, calling arguments against it based on a “novel, unwritten, historically unsupported right to abortion” in the state constitution.

“The constitutional text nowhere mentions abortion, and Indiana has prohibited or heavily regulated abortion by statute since 1835 — before, during, and after the time when the 1851 Indiana Constitution was drafted, debated, and ratified,” the office said in a court filing.

The Indiana abortion ban includes exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the pregnant person; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

The new law also prohibited abortion clinics from providing any abortion care, leaving such services solely to hospitals or outpatient surgical centers owned by hospitals.

The lawsuit was filed in southern Indiana’s Monroe County, which includes the liberal-leaning city of Bloomington and Indiana University’s main campus, but two elected Democratic judges from that county declined to handle the case without stating any reasons.

Hanlon, a Republican from neighboring Owen County, accepted appointment as special judge. Hanlon, who was first elected as a judge in 2014, was among three finalists that the state Judicial Nominating Commission selected in July for appointment to the state appeals court, but the governor last week named a different judge to the position.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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How Disability Misunderstandings And Stigma Impact Mental Well-Being

Disability experts say it’s common for doctors to misunderstand bodily autonomy, which can impact a person’s mental health.

CDC data shows about 26% of Americans live with a disability, whether it’s physical or mental.  

 Conditions like anxiety, spinal injury, ADHD, amputation, depression, cerebral palsy — these are just some examples.  

 Advocates say there’s a lot of misunderstanding about a person who has a disability. And that stigma not only runs deep — it can also have a huge impact on that individual’s mental health. 

Twenty-eight-year-old New Yorker Chloé Valentine Toscano knows beauty, from walking in fashion week to her Instagram reels to publishing in magazines like Allure. 

“I’m a writer. I’m someone who likes the color pink. I like butterflies. I like learning a lot about anyone and anything,” she said. “I think we all have differences, and I want to understand differences. … For me, beauty is just being open-minded,” she said.

She also has fought face-to-face with ugly mental health struggles caused by doctors who didn’t understand disability.  

“It is a journey,” Valentine Toscano said.

She lost motor function from her elbow down in 2014. She adapted and spent years living with — as she calls it — dead weight. She got into paralypmic swimming and started her career.  

Then, after years of researching and soul searching, she chose to amputate her arm. 

“I know amputation can be very traumatic because some people, a lot of people,will experience it through trauma,” she said. “But that wasn’t where I was in my case. So, it wasn’t traumatic talking about it, but it was traumatic playing a game with the yeses and the nos.”

Valentine Toscano spent three years fighting to get her procedure. She says some surgeons told her any elective amputation was too risky, even though she was healthy. Other rejections came after her surgery had been approved and scheduled. 

“The answer I got from one, he said, ‘Well, some people just need to learn to live with what they’ve got.’ That made me feel like someone else who wasn’t in my body was telling me what was better for me,” she said. “It felt very frustrating to have it and very offensive to have someone say that.”

Bodily autonomy — or the right to control what happens to your body — is a common struggle in the disability community. And disability experts say misunderstanding that is common, and can cause undue stress as well as impact a person’s mental well-being.  

In Valentine Toscano’s story, it happened a few times. 

She recounted that in one appointment: “I cried, I broke down and I felt like the minute I expressed that emotion, he sent me in for a psych evaluation, which felt like I was being punished for expressing emotion.” And then she described the examination, saying: “She was asking me, she said, ‘Do you find that you’re unattractive because of your arm and that you would be more attractive without it?’ And I was like, ‘It’s not about that at all. It’s never been about that.’ … I felt angry and belittled and just, not heard, because I was asking for one thing and being evaluated for something that wasn’t even remotely there.”

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Linda Mona has spent the past two decades working on disability and how it relates to health care.  

“If you haven’t been exposed to it personally — you have not been exposed to it through being a family friend, a lover, whoever that might be — And you’re not called to do it professionally and you don’t see it around you, you don’t think about it.”

She says, unfortunately, Valentine Toscano’s experience is all too common. Mental health experts with lived experience or expertise in disability are rare. 

“It can be quite challenging to find somebody,” Mona said. “The other thing to think about is the steps that come before that, which is that it’s very hard for people to access education if they have disability, let alone graduate school. And internship and fellowship…”

Sixty-one million U.S. adults, which is about one in 4, have some type of disability, according to the CDC.  

A 2021 anonymous survey of graduating medical students showed 7.6% identified as having a disability.  But data collected directly from medical schools show that only about 4% of medical students disclosed their disability.  

That stigma against disability —physical or mental — runs deep. 

From 1867 to 1974 U.S. cities had laws governing who could be in public. Codes included fining or jailing those deemed “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or anyway deformed.”

Mona says it’s federal bias favoring able-bodied people.

“You’re best at home. You’re best tucked away. Or, you’re best institutionalized out of the way of anybody else who is displeased with the way that you look,” she said.

She adds structural stigmas fueled misconceptions about disabled people’s decision-making about their own bodies. 

NEWSY’S LINDSEY THEIS: When we talk about bodily autonomy, what type of impact cannot have long term on someone’s mental well-being?  

LINDA MONA: Trying to bring that in and make your choices can have a huge effect on your mental health in the long run. … It also happens a lot with pregnancy and people with disabilities. Right? So, you know, somebody has some kind of cognitive mental difference or physical difference. There’s, you know, constant questioning about, you know, ‘you want to be pregnant? You know what that’s going to do to your body?’ … I don’t think anybody thinks those types of decisions are a simple decision. They’re complex. But you have to trust that somebody has made that made that decision with that context in mind and not assume that they’re uninformed.

In summer 2021, Valentine Toscano had her amputation surgery. She calls it a dream come true.  

“I just felt happy,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I got this is like a huge step in my life. It just felt like one of those, like, huge dreams. I got there. I got a huge part of my personality back immediately.”

Valentine Toscano uses a prosthetic, as needed. It’s bright pink and purple with a lot of glitter.  

“If I could have decided to have been born with an arm with butterflies and sparkles on it, like right out of the womb, I would have picked that,” she said. 

 Valentine Toscano said her prosthetic cost $13,000.

“It’s something that’s very expensive,” she said. “I was fortunate to have it covered by health insurance. But that’s not something everyone has.”

Valentine Toscano continues to advocate and write, sharing her experience now from two different sides of disability. She’s also writing a book on the side.  

She says the ability to share those stories in her voice and having others listen is not only good for her well-being, it’s truly beautiful.

Source: newsy.com

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TV Shows And Movies Are Contributing To Youth Sex Education

Sex has always been portrayed in TV, movies and shows, but it’s changed over time to educate people about sex.

In a time when sex education varies between different states and local school districts, TV shows and films are filling in the gaps for some teens and young adults.  

In 2018, a Healthline survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that only 33% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 reported having some form of sex education in school.   

And a 2020 study from the Journal of LGBT Youth found that a majority of gay and lesbian college students “expressed that their formal sex education was lacking and that they sought out or received information from other informal sources to supplement their learning.” 

Those informal resources included internet forums, popular films, music and TV shows.

When it comes to television, teen dramas like the long-running series “Degrassi” has been paving the way.  

Since 1987, when “Degrassi Junior High” first debuted, the franchise about students at a Canadian junior high and high school has highlighted the issues of teen pregnancy, abortion, STDs and sexual assault. In 1992, the U.S. Department of Education even developed a sex education curriculum that used episodes of “Degrassi” as starting points for classroom discussion. 

“Degrassi” now spans five different series across three generations of viewers and represents teens and families of various cultures, as well as varying sexual and gender identities. Its newest iteration is slated to debut on HBO Max in 2023.  

As “Degrassi” served almost like the blueprint for sex education in teen dramas, a series for older viewers, ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder,” made history with its own advocacy for safe sexual health within the LGBTQ community.  

The series centers on a group of law school students and their professor. And in 2018, it became the first network primetime series to highlight pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly known as “PrEP,” a medication that reduces the risk of spreading HIV.  

The series’ discussion of PrEP, as well as the representation of a character living with HIV, was praised by organizations like GLAAD and Greater Than AIDS for the way it educated audiences without stigmatizing the issue.  

“How To Get Away With Murder” ended in 2020, but sex education in TV has continued.  

Today’s teen dramas like Netflix’s new “Heartbreak High” or the critically acclaimed and aptly named “Sex Education” are poking fun at the limitations of real-life sex education in schools, while advocating for honest and informative conversations about sex, consent, body positivity and healthy relationships. 

“Sex Education” tells the story of the son of a sex therapist who gives relationship advice to his peers. Both critics and health experts have praised the show for its informative humor and nuance about the realities of sex. The fourth and final season of the series is expected to be released next year. 

Source: newsy.com

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STIs In Newborns Have Significantly Risen Over The Pandemic

There has been a sharp rise in STIs in newborns. What can be done to combat the uptick?

The pandemic has touched just about every portion of American life, exposed some of our greatest disparities and opened the door to new challenges. For many healthcare workers that means an uptick in things they thought the country had a grip on.  

“This is not just like an issue. It’s a crisis,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, the director of health in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The U.S. had made strides against sexually transmitted infections like congenital syphilis in the early 2000s.

Dr. Davis says those gains have disappeared.   

“We had a hyper focus on COVID that took away our ability to really prioritize and understand that other aspects of health don’t go away,” said Davis. 

According to the CDC, by the end of 2020 syphilis among newborns, which is generally passed during pregnancy, was up nearly 15% from 2019 and 254% from 2016. 

40% of babies born to women with untreated syphilis can be stillborn or die from the infection. Those that do survive face challenges.  

Dr. Anna Maya Powell is co-director at Johns Hopkins HIV Women’s Program. 

“An untreated case of congenital syphilis can result in things like brain or bone malformations, that can cause blindness over time or organ damage,” said Powell. 

Experts point to a myriad of reasons for the uptick: for one, people stopped getting checkups in 2020, or relied on telemedicine, which could miss a diagnosis.  

Another hurdle was that public resources for combating STIs were often diverted to COVID response.  

According to Dr. Powell, the congruent opioid epidemic didn’t help.  

“Pregnant patients who are using substances during pregnancy — They’re less likely to come in for prenatal care,” said Powell. 

There are also inconsistencies in healthcare requirements. According to the CDC only 13 states and DC require all patients to undergo syphilis testing in both the first and third trimesters. Eight states don’t require testing at all.  

Davis says none of that matters if a patient doesn’t have access to care in the first place. It’s an issue disproportionately facing ethnic minorities.   

“We’re seeing the same pattern, not just in STIs, but across all disease states. So that says it’s not just about the genes. It’s not about the specific disease. It’s not about the specific issue. It’s about those fundamental structural issues that need to be addressed,” said Davis. 

Doctors tell Newsy one of the first ways to address the issue is to get rid of stigma, making the STI conversation routine in doctor visits. Another solution is making sure partners are also treated for STIs. These are simple steps — but also things they say require funding.   

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine’s Horse Rescuer: ‘This Is My Frontline’

Many animals were displaced and left behind as Russian forces started invading Ukraine. Now, months after the invasion, some horses have been saved.

After months in the middle of a Ukrainian battlefield, several horses crossed to safety Wednesday near the frontline in Kharkiv. 

They will join other survivors of war in a safe haven in Western Ukraine. 

Through more than six months of chaos, Ukraine’s horse owners faced gut wrenching decisions. Many had no choice but to abandon their animals and hope they’d be rescued. 

Taisia Stadnichenko is the head of operations at the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation.  

“I know drivers. I know who needs help. I know how much help we can deliver,” said Stadnichenko.  

That help is still being organized, on a near-daily basis, by Taya Stadnichenko. She’s the self-appointed equestrian 911 operator. 

“I just get a message. If we send car to Russian area to take the horses, our car will not get out. Never,” she said. 

This cry for help is coming from a horse owner in Russian-occupied Kherson, caught in the crossfire. There’s no way for her to help them. 

But even before this week, before Ukraine’s lighting liberation of the Kharkiv region — she managed to lead daring rescues to get some horses from Russian occupied areas out of harm’s way. 

TAISIA STADNICHENKO: People were walking with the two horses the whole night and part of the day. And our trailer was hidden into the forest and it was bombing people. Just five kilometers from the frontline. And we took those horses.

Trapped in battle-scarred Kharkiv, 17 thoroughbreds were unreachable until now. They needed medical care, food, shelter. But Russia heavily mined the area. 

NEWSY’S JASON BELLINI: Are there horses that are suffering, that are dying right now?   

STADNICHENKO: Yes, of course. We have many cases when it’s too late. When people are just waiting, waiting and waiting. And then after it’s too late, they ask us for help. It’s not like a cat or a dog you just put in the car and take with yourself. 

In the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, seized by Russia on the first day of the war, Taya introduces us to Evhen Ramazanov.  

He owns stables and the equestrian training ground. 

He showed Newsy videos he took on February 24. That day his land became the frontline of a warzone. He housed, at the time, 90 horses. Twelve days later, he realized he and his family needed to flee the property, leaving behind the horses. 

“It was like the apocalypse in a movie,” he says. “Fifteen horses were killed. Some from explosions with shrapnel, some from a direct hit and some from dehydration, because there was no water.”

he says the ones that survived miraculously managed to jump over a fence and lead themselves to water.  

Ramazanov wanted to introduce us to Rodeo, the old horse he considers a hero.  

The horses couldn’t stay in the field near the water. Shells were falling all around them. 

“It was a miracle. This Rodeo gathered the entire herd and brought them home, he says. “The horse understood that it was too dangerous to stay there.”

BELLINI: What did you see when you came back? 

EVHEN RAMAZANOV: I don’t know if I can talk about that. But one of the survivors just gave birth. She stayed here all her pregnancy under such horrendous conditions, under the bombing. 

Russian troops commandeered the stables of other horse owners. 

Oliiynichenko Oleksandra said the Russians stole everything in her barn and 13 of the horses she boarded there died.  

“I’ve been here since I was 13 years old. Now I’m 27 years old. I’ve lost everything,” said Oleksandra. 

What she hasn’t lost is her love of horses. She leads many of the rescue operations. 

The biggest challenge ahead is winter, and feeding and housing 5,000 rescued horses, which costs around $200 per month, per horse. That money that comes from donations. 

STADNICHENKO: They are donating from $5 to $500 to $700.  

BELLINI: From around the world?  

STADNICHENKO: From all around the world, from United States, Japan and from everywhere. U.S. equestrian sent veterinary supply donation for about $100,000. It will help about 5000 horses for a few months.   

Before the war, Stadnichenko published photo books of horses. Ironically and no longer, Russia was her primary market. Now her life is devoted to saving the animals she has loved since she was a child.  

STADNICHENKO: Everybody has their own front line. There are people that are caring about people and caring about children. But I care about horses, so I’m focused at them. This is my frontline. 

Source: newsy.com

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West Virginia Legislature Passes Abortion Ban With Few Exceptions

By Associated Press
September 14, 2022

The legislation would allow victims of rape and incest to obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, if they report to law enforcement first.

West Virginia’s Legislature passed a sweeping abortion ban with few exceptions Tuesday, approving a bill that several members of the Republican supermajority said they hope will make it impossible for the state’s only abortion clinic to continue to offer the procedure.

“It is going to shut down that abortion clinic, of that I feel certain,” Republican Sen. Robert Karnes said on the Senate floor, amid shouts from protesters standing outside the chamber doors. “I believe it’s going to save a lot of babies.”

Under the legislation, rape and incest victims would be able to obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, but only if they report to law enforcement first. Such victims who are minors would have until 14 weeks to terminate a pregnancy and must report to either law enforcement or a physician.

Rape and incest victims would have to report the assault within 48 hours of getting an abortion, and a patient must present a copy of a police report or notarized letter to a physician before the procedure can be performed.

Abortions also would be allowed in cases of medical emergencies.

West Virginia joins the ranks of states moving to ban abortion in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to end the constitutional right to privacy that protected abortion rights nationwide. That left it to states to decide whether abortion should remain legal, which in turn has ignited intense state-level debates, especially in states controlled by Republicans, about when to impose the ban, whether to carve out exceptions in cases involving rape, incest or the health of the woman giving birth, and how those exceptions should be implemented.

The West Virginia bill now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has signed several anti-abortion bills into law since taking office in 2017. Lawmakers resumed debate on the bill Tuesday after failing to come to an agreement in late July, giving up the chance for the state to become the first to approve new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June removing its protected status as a constitutional right.

Both the Senate and the House of Delegates speedily approved the bill, after several hours of debate. Dozens of protesters wearing pink shirts reading “bans off our bodies” and holding signs reading “abortion is healthcare” staged a rally in the Capitol rotunda while lawmakers were in session.

Some of the group sat in the gallery as legislators discussed the bills, with some shouting down to legislators in frustration as they spoke in support of the bill. Legislative leadership asked that the onlookers remain silent as lawmakers conducted business. At one point, at least one protester was escorted out of the building by police. 

Lawmakers inserted several provisions they said were specifically targeted at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, which was the state’s first abortion clinic when it opened in 1976 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade case. It has existed as the state’s sole abortion clinic for years, making it the ever-increasing target of anti-abortion lawmakers and protesters.

The bill states that surgical abortions can only be performed at a state-licensed hospital by a physician with hospital privileges. Anybody else who performs an abortion, including nurse practitioners and other medical professionals, could face three to 10 years in prison. A physician who performs an illegal abortion could lose their medical license.

Pregnant people who obtain illegal abortions will not face any form of prosecution under the bill, however.

Kaylen Barker, spokesperson for the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, said the clinic will not be shutting down, even if the staff is no longer able to provide abortions. Like many clinics that perform abortions, the facility did not offer the procedure daily.

Most days are dedicated to services like gender-affirming hormone therapy, HIV prevention and treatment and routine gynecological care — cervical exams, cancer screenings — mostly for low-income patients on Medicaid with nowhere else to go.

Democratic Sen. Owens Brown, West Virginia’s only Black senator, spoke against the bill before it passed the Senate. He said when he looks around at his fellow lawmakers, he sees a body that is overwhelmingly comprised of white, middle-aged to elderly men who are middle-class or above.

Brown compared groups of men passing legislation that overwhelmingly impacts women to laws that were passed by white lawmakers when slavery was legal in the U.S. He said “all laws are not good laws made by men.”

“That’s somewhat irrational in many ways to be able to apply a law that will never apply to you,” he said to his fellow lawmakers. “It’s easy for you to sit there and do that because you will never have to face the consequences of your actions.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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