Day 225: "Catastrophic."
1/ Texas enacted the nation’s the most restrictive abortion ban after the Supreme Court failed to rule on an emergency request from Texas abortion clinics. The law, known as Senate Bill 8, prohibits doctors from performing abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women are even aware that they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, and also deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it. Individuals found to have violated the law would have to pay $10,000 to the person who successfully brings a suit. In an emergency request to the court, abortion providers wrote that the law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85% of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.” Biden called the ban “extreme,” saying it “blatantly violates” a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, as affirmed by Roe v. Wade. He added that his administration was “deeply committed” to a woman’s right to have an abortion and pledged to “protect and defend” that right. The Supreme Court, however, is still expected to act on the Texas law, though there is no timeline. In May, the court agreed to review Mississippi’s ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade. Arguments are expected later this year, with a ruling in 2022. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News)
2/ Texas Republicans passed new restrictions on the state’s voting process, overcoming a six-week walkout by Democrats to send the measure to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who plans to sign the bill into law. The legislation adds new ID requirements for vote by mail, creates new criminal and civil penalties for poll workers, empowers partisan poll watchers, and bans drive-through and 24-hour voting options. Texas and 17 other states have passed more than 30 bills this year aimed at restricting voting. (New York Times / NPR / Wall Street Journal)
3/ Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened telecommunication companies that a future “Republican majority will not forget” if they cooperate with the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol. The comment follows the committee asked 35 companies to save records relevant to the attack – something McCarthy claimed “would put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democratic politicians.” McCarthy added that complying with the request would be a “violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States.” He did not, however, cite which law prohibits the companies from complying with the committee’s request. (Politico / The Hill / CNN)
4/ The Florida Department of Health changed the way it reported Covid-19 death data to the CDC as cases ballooned in August, giving the appearance that the pandemic was in decline. Until three weeks ago, Florida counted deaths by the date they were recorded, but on Aug. 10, the state began counting new deaths by the date the person died. Using the old methodology – a common method used by most states – Florida death data would have shown an average of 262 daily deaths. Instead, Florida showed 46 “new deaths” per day over the previous seven days. (Miami Herald)
5/ At least 15.1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been thrown away in the U.S. since March 1. According to CDC data, pharmacies and state governments have discarded doses for a number of reasons, including cracked vials, errors diluting the vaccine, freezer malfunctions, more doses in a vial than people who want them, among other things. Walgreens reported that it wasted nearly 2.6 million doses, CVS reported 2.3 million wasted doses, Walmart reported 1.6 million, and Rite Aid reported 1.1 million. Health departments in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma each reported more than 200,000 wasted doses. (NBC News)
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