Sophie Novack

Sophie is the public health reporting fellow at the Observer. She previously covered health care policy and politics at National Journal in Washington, D.C. You can contact her at [email protected].

By Sophie Novack:


Bordering on an Outbreak

by | Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm CST
Health Care

Federal Court Denies Undocumented Teen’s Request for an Abortion

An appeals court Friday heard arguments on whether a federal refugee agency can block a minor in its custody from having an abortion.

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an earlier ruling ordering the federal government to allow Jane Doe to have an abortion. Today’s decision effectively bars Doe from terminating her pregnancy, at least for now. Instead, … Read More

A patient gets her blood pressure checked at the Waco Planned Parenthood.
Health Care

Thousands of Poor Texans Could Lose Health Care With Congress Distracted by ACA Repeal

Community health centers are set to lose about one-fifth of their total funding if Congress doesn’t act by Saturday.

UPDATE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee said Thursday that it will consider legislation to extend community health center funding next week. Advocates are encouraged, but still on edge. This is an early step in the legislative process and will occur … Read More

Health Care

Where do Texas Democrats Stand on Single-Payer Health Care?

Half of the state’s congressional Dems have not signed on to Medicare for All legislation.

About 4.5 million Texans would get coverage under the single-payer health care legislation that’s gaining traction in Congress. Texas, with the highest uninsured rate in the country — nearly twice the national rate — has a lot of catching up … Read More

Health Care

State Plans to Restore Services after Advocates in Wheelchairs Surprise Officials

After disability advocates surrounded HHSC officials Monday, they were told the contract would be renewed, but few details have been provided.

On Monday afternoon, Emily Wolinsky and about 15 other disability-rights advocates, most in wheelchairs, sat around a long table at an Italian restaurant across the street from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) building. Over plates of pasta … Read More


Thanks to their State Rep, Friendswood Family Rushes to File Insurance Claim for their Flooded Home

“It’s kind of silly that this law is going into effect to give more power to insurance companies,” said Gerry Emig. “The thought that our representative would do that is a little scary.”

“It’s kind of silly that this law is going into effect to give more power to insurance companies. The thought that our representative would do that is a little scary.” Read More

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court as judges consider oral arguments in the Texas House Bill 2 abortion case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.
Health Care

Judge Temporarily Halts New Texas Abortion Ban

In his ruling, Judge Lee Yeakel said that unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, he will continue applying the constitutional standard of no “undue burden” on women.

In a rebuke to state lawmakers, a federal judge in Austin temporarily halted a law passed by the Legislature in May that bans a common second-trimester abortion procedure. In his ruling, released late Thursday, District Court Judge Lee Yeakel said that unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, he’s obliged to use the standard of "undue burden" to determine the constitutionality of abortion laws. Read More

Greg Abbott accepted the Site Selection Governor's Cup in March, but neglected to mention the behind-the-scenes corporate handouts that made Texas a frontrunner for the honor.
Health Care

Despite Self-Congratulation, Lawmakers Did Virtually Nothing about Maternal Mortality Crisis

Governor Greg Abbott said he was “committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate,” but lawmakers ignored specific recommendations to reduce pregnancy-related deaths.

Jen Reel From the way the governor and top Republican lawmakers have been talking, you’d think the Legislature was taking bold steps toward solving the state’s alarming maternal mortality crisis. “It is unacceptable that Texas continues to have a high … Read More

Criminal Justice

Compassionate (Ab)use: Family Battles Texas over Medical Marijuana

The Zartlers have gone through a veritable pharmacy of prescription drugs, but they say medical marijuana is the only thing that stops Kara from hitting herself.

Mark Zartler measures how well his 17-year-old daughter, Kara, is doing by what he calls a “hit test” — counting the number of times she hits herself on a given day. Kara, who has severe autism and cerebral palsy, has … Read More