Jennifer Coolidge spent three minutes on live television last night explaining her anxiety over mispronouncing someone’s name. Who among us wouldn’t do the same.
Today in health, the House passed its first abortion-related bill under the newly elected GOP majority and the White House has again extended the COVID-19 public health emergency.
For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.
House passes GOP abortion bill
The House on Wednesday passed a bill that would require that all infants born after attempted abortions get medical care, the first abortion-related legislation from the House GOP majority after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade over the summer.
The measure, titled the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, passed in a 220-210-1 vote. One Democrat voted for the measure and one voted “present.”
The bill, which House Republicans vowed to bring up even before they clinched the majority, would mandate that an infant born alive after an attempted abortion receives the same degree of care that any other child born prematurely would receive. The measure also requires that the infant is taken to a hospital.
Medical groups have been critical of similar forms of legislation proposed at the state level. Only about one percent of abortions occur after a fetus could survive outside the womb
House passage of the bill comes days before the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which made access to abortion a constitutional right. The justices struck down that decision in June.
The move from the bench reverberated across the country, with conservatives hailing the court and liberals sounding the alarm about the future of abortion access in the U.S.
Read more here.
White House again extends COVID-19 emergency
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Wednesday officially renewed the ongoing public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic amid concerns over a more transmissible viral mutation and broad pandemic fatigue.
The announcement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra marks the 12th renewal of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which was first declared by former HHS Secretary Alex Azar in January 2020.
“The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency remains in effect, and as HHS committed to earlier, we will provide a 60-day notice to states before any possible termination or expiration,” an HHS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
While it is not required by any laws or department rules, Becerra has publicly committed to giving state governments and health care stakeholders a 60-day notice if he plans to allow the declaration to expire.
The absence of a notice in mid-November was understood to be a tacit acknowledgement that the public health emergency would be renewed.
“We have seen COVID infections increase in prior winters, and it does not have to be that way this year. We now have the updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccine to protect against the Omicron strain. Our message is simple: Don’t wait. Get an updated COVID-19 vaccine this winter. It’s safe and effective,” the HHS spokesperson added.
Read more here.
WHO OFFICIALS RECOMMEND MASK-WEARING FOR TRAVEL
Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) are recommending that COVID-19 mitigation methods like masking on planes be reemphasized for regions like North America and Europe in response to the spread of the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant, which is believed to be significantly more transmissible than previous mutations.
Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for the WHO, was asked during a briefing on Tuesday whether travelers from the U.S. should be subject to travel checks due to the spread of XBB.1.5.
“In terms of travel measures, yes our opinion is that travel measures should be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner,” Smallwood said. “That’s not to say that we recommend testing of patient of passengers coming from the U.S. at this stage.”
“Passengers should opt to wear a mask in high-risk settings such as long-haul flights. And this should be a recommendation issued to passengers arriving from anywhere where there’s widespread COVID-19 transmission,” she added, noting this qualifier pretty much applies to the entire world at the moment.
XBB.1.5 is believed to be causing 28 percent of cases in the U.S. at the moment. More than 70 percent of cases in the Northeastern U.S. are currently attributed to the subvariant.
Read more here.
GOP LAWMAKER: REPUBLICANS ‘TONE-DEAF’ ON ABORTION
As House Republicans are set to consider a number of bills that would limit abortion access, GOP Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.) says her party is “tone-deaf” on the issue, blasting their approach.
“We have been tone-deaf on this issue since the time that Roe was overturned,” Mace told reporters Tuesday. “We buried our heads in the sand … We didn’t have any policy alternatives.”
While Republicans have made abortion restrictions a high priority both before and after the end of Roe v. Wade, Mace criticized her party for “paying lip service to the pro-life movement.”
“It’s never going to pass the Senate. It’s never going to get to the president’s desk to be signed into law,” she said. “If you want to make a difference and reduce the number of abortions with a Democrat-controlled Senate, the No. 1 issue we should be working on is access to birth control.”
Mace voted for both the House bills on Wednesday.
In their new majority, Republicans have agreed to give quick consideration to two bills that would place restrictions on abortion — one that would codify the Hyde Amendment banning the use of federal funding for the procedure and another that aims to regulate how health care providers handle infants born alive after an abortion attempt.
Read more here.
Alabama AG warns of prosecution over abortion pills
Alabama’s attorney general said medication abortion remains illegal in the state despite recent Biden administration moves to expand access to the drugs, and indicated that a law regarding the chemical endangerment of a child could be used to prosecute women who use abortion pills.
Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, which took effect immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, targets abortion providers and exempts people who receive abortions from being prosecuted.
In a statement to The Hill, a spokesman for Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said women could instead face charges under the state’s chemical endangerment law, which was passed in 2006 to protect children from exposure to chemicals and fumes from home meth labs.
Prosecutors have since extended the law so it applies to women who had taken any drugs while pregnant or exposed their fetuses to drugs.
“The Human Life Protection Act targets abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law,” Marshall’s office said in a statement emailed to The Hill Wednesday.
“It does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law — which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.”
Alabama law says a person commits the felony of chemical endangerment of a child if he or she “knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally causes or permits a child to be exposed to, to ingest or inhale, or to have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia.”
Read more here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
FDA vaccine advisers ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ that early data about new Covid-19 booster shot wasn’t presented for review last year (CNN)
Will America’s public health reckoning ever come? (Stat)
Funding uncertainty weighs on UN maternal health agency (Roll Call)
STATE BY STATE
As new Senate sworn in, Berger prioritizes Medicaid expansion, taxes, education (The Carolina Journal)
Massachusetts AG’s office puts spotlight on services for LGBTQ youth (Axios)
Judge: Arizona prisons must provide better inmate healthcare (ABC15 Arizona)
THE HILL OP-ED
Environmental racism worsens pandemic outcomes
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.