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Fifth Circuit Court knocks down Texas abortion ban | The Latest | Gambit Weekly

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tuesday evening a Texas law banning the most common and safest type of second trimester abortion, marking an unlikely victory for reproductive rights advocates from one of the most conservative appeals courts. 

The statute effectively outlawed the dilation and evacuation procedure, known as D&E, in which doctors open the cervix and remove fetal tissue from the uterus. The law would only allow the procedure, the one usually used for abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy, if the “fetal demise” occurs in the uteruswhich would require an invasive additional step for doctors and women that is not part of a typical D&E. 

In its Whole Woman’s Health v. Ken Paxton decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the law unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to obtain a previability abortion” because it “requires a woman to undergo an additional and medically unnecessary procedure to cause fetal demise before she may obtain a dilation and evacuation abortion.”  

Louisiana passed a similar law in 2016, with exceptions only for a serious health risk to the mother, but it is not currently in effect. Several other states have had their own bans challenged in courtincluding Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. It is unclear if the ruling will apply to Louisiana and Mississippi, which are also in the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction and have similar bans on the books. 

The Texas law started out as a bill banning a late-term abortion procedure that was already outlawed at the federal level in 2003 and forbidding the sale or donation of embryonic and fetal tissue. But after several amendments, the final form of the law had many other parts, including requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue. The D&E ban, however, was the biggest change. 

The law also included criminal penalties for doctors who did not adhere to it. 

Eight licensed abortion clinics and three abortion providers challenged the Texas law, and the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, ruled in their favor and against the state of Texas. 

The ruling in favor of abortion rights comes as Louisiana residents begin to vote on whether they want to add an amendment to the state constitution declaring it does not include the right to abortion. It also comes in the midst of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett would give the court and even stronger anti-abortion majority, which could impact decades of future abortion legislation. 

Barrett is from Louisiana.

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Weekly Testing for NHS Staff Recommended



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

UK COVID-19 Update: Weekly Testing for NHS Staff Recommended

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee’s latest report into the handling of COVID-19 recommends routine testing of NHS staff to help keep services running.

The report also warns of tens of thousands of avoidable deaths within a year because of disruption to non-COVID services, such as cancer care.

In a news release the MPs said “a compelling case” has been made for staff testing “and they are yet to understand why it cannot be introduced”.

In a statement, Committee Chair Jeremy Hunt expressed pride in the “heroic contribution” of frontline NHS staff but the pandemic “massively impacted normal NHS services, something that could have been mitigated with earlier infection control measures in hospitals and clearer communication to patients whose care was disrupted.

“Weekly testing of NHS staff has been repeatedly promised in hotspot areas – but is still not being delivered. Failure to do so creates a real risk that the NHS will be forced to retreat into being a largely COVID-only service during a second spike.”

BMA Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the report showed the need for “a credible plan to dig us out of the trenches”.

Latest Local Lockdowns

Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool, and Middlesbrough are the latest areas in England to come under local lockdown restrictions.

Liverpool’s cases are 268 per 100,000 population.

Residents are being urged not to mix with people from different households indoors and to avoid non-essential travel.

Test and Trace

The latest data for England’s Test and Trace system for 17 to 23 September show a 61% increase in positive tests from the previous week.

Turnaround times have improved with 70.6% of in-person swab tests received the next day compared with 52.9% the previous week.

Of those transferred to contact tracing, 71.3% were reached. Overall, 71.6% of identified contacts were reached.

In today’s daily data another 6914 UK positve tests were reported and 59 deaths.

There are 2276 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 332 ventilator beds are in use.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that nurses and other health professionals will no longer play a part in England’s NHS 111 COVID-19 call handling.

The decision followed an audit in July after concerns were raised about the quality of some calls, and a number of “clinical incidents” that “may have resulted in harm”.

Is Case Growth Slowing?

Imperial and Ipsos MORI’s REACT study’s latest data suggest that while cases remain high in England, recent measures may be starting to slow the growth in cases.

Between 18 and 26 September 84,610 swab tests were analysed. 

  • 363 people tested positive

  • 55 in every 10,000 people had the virus

  • 1 in every 100 18-24 year olds had the virus

  • 411,000 people were infected on any single day

  • R was estimated at 1.1

Imperial’s Professor Paul Elliott commented: “While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting