Sophie Novack

Sophie Novack is a staff writer at the Observer covering public health. 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:

Health Care

Texans ‘Will Die’: House Republicans Pass Anti-Planned Parenthood Bill After Emotional Debate

Senate Bill 22 is the latest in the Legislature’s years-long vendetta against Planned Parenthood. Despite the GOP sponsor refusing to debate the bill, it could soon land on the governor’s desk.

With her voice cracking, state Representative Ana-Maria Ramos described her experience of being a struggling teen mom on the Texas House floor on Friday. A mother at 15, she told her colleagues, she didn’t know whether she would eat the … Read More

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Health Care

Texas House Votes to Significantly Expand Medical Marijuana Law

The proposal, which still must pass the more-conservative Senate, would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients who suffer from cancer, autism, PTSD, severe pain and other conditions.

Christy and Mark Zartler consider cannabis to be their daughter’s “rescue medicine.” Kara, 19, has severe autism and cerebral palsy, and has hurt herself — smacking and punching her face and head repeatedly — for more than a decade. Nothing, … Read More

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Health Care

‘Do Something with This Grief’: Mom of Santa Fe Shooting Victim Turns to Politics

Rhonda Hart, a gun reform advocate whose daughter was killed in the Santa Fe High School shooting last May, is running for school board in her bright red Texas district.

by Sophie Novack April 23, 2019 UPDATE: Rhonda Hart lost the school board race on May 4 with 33 percent of the vote, but she continues to advocate for gun violence prevention and says she’s not giving up on politics. … Read More

Health Care

‘Lies into Laws’: Texas House Passes ‘Born Alive’ Anti-Abortion Bill Despite Protest

“The aim of HB 16 is clear: further stigmatize abortion, misinform the public, intimidate physicians and interfere with women’s ability to seek medical care,” said state Representative Donna Howard.

As the Texas House voted on the first anti-abortion bill to make it to the floor this session, advocates rolled down a banner above the board displaying lawmakers’ votes: “STOP TURNING LIES INTO LAWS.” The House gave initial passage to … Read More

Health Care

Watchdog Organization Calls for (Another) Investigation into Failed Texas Anti-Abortion Group

Former Heidi Group employees say a new effort by the group to secure family planning funding inflates the organization’s track record.

A watchdog organization is calling for a federal investigation into the Heidi Group, a controversial Texas anti-abortion group that is now accused of lying on its new application for family planning funds. This comes just months after the state health … Read More

Health Care

Texas Republicans Dismiss Research as They Move to Further Defund Planned Parenthood

Jane Nelson, the Senate’s chief budget writer, praised the Legislature’s funding of women’s health programs despite state data and other research that shows they are not meeting the needs of poor women.

Reproductive health advocates have long pointed to Texas as a cautionary tale of what happens when lawmakers prioritize defunding Planned Parenthood and boosting anti-abortion organizations over ensuring access to care. In 2011, Texas lawmakers slashed the family planning budget by … Read More

Health Care

In Texas, Three More Measles Cases and Four New Anti-Vaccine Bills

“I am shocked,” said a vaccine advocate of a slew of new “scare tactic” bills filed amid an ongoing measles outbreak.

Since early March, Texas has confirmed three new measles cases amid an ongoing outbreak, and added several new anti-vaccine measures to the roster of bills filed this session. Texas has seen 11 cases of the disease so far this year, … Read More

Health Care

Texas Lawmakers are Promoting ‘Anti-New York’ Bills to Limit Abortions

Governor Greg Abbott said there is “growing support for infanticide.” (There is not.)

Conservative Texas lawmakers are seizing on inflammatory and inaccurate national rhetoric around abortions later in pregnancy in an effort to drum up anti-abortion sentiment and characterize Democrats as extremists who support infanticide. They point to a recent New York law … Read More

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‘Breakthrough’ Chronicles Nobel Prize Winner Jim Allison’s Long Fight for Science

Forty years after the immunologist testified at the Texas Legislature in favor of teaching evolution, state leaders are still debating its inclusion in school curriculums.

Nobel Prize winner Jim Allison is used to being considered something of a troublemaker. When he was a kid growing up in small-town Alice, Texas, he battled with his high school science teacher, who refused to teach or even speak … Read More