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:


Four Texas Abortion Court Cases to Watch in 2019

by | Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm CST

Documentary Follows a Family’s Fight to Change Texas Law that Turned Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman into an ‘Incubator’

62 Days is meant to bring attention to laws that “punish women and put them in extraordinary circumstances where their choices and autonomy are dismissed,” the filmmaker said.

For 62 days, Marlise Muñoz’s family was forced to watch as her body deteriorated. The 33-year-old paramedic had suffered a pulmonary embolism two days before Thanksgiving in 2013; by the time her husband found her facedown in the kitchen, her … Read More

seton, fetal remains, cemetery

Three Things the Judge Says He’ll Consider in Ruling on Texas Fetal Burial Law

Of primary concern is whether the law would limit patients’ access to abortion or miscarriage care.

As the weeklong trial over Texas’ fetal burial law wrapped up on Friday, Federal District Judge David Ezra gave a good indication of what he’ll be focusing on in his decision. The plaintiffs — a collection of Texas abortion clinics … Read More

seton, abortion
Health Care

‘Shamed and Stigmatized’: Austin Woman Forced by Hospital to Bury Fetal Remains Testifies Against State Law

Blake Norton, who shared her experience publicly for the first time with the Observer earlier this year, testified in federal court that the forced fetal burial left her “shocked, upset, confused.”

On the first day of the trial over Texas’ fetal burial law, abortion providers had a rejoinder to the claim that they don’t know how patients feel about the requirement: Blake Norton. On Monday, Norton fought back tears as she … Read More

rape kit backlog

A Timely, Enraging Documentary Humanizes the Rape Kit Backlog Crisis

Texas lawmakers have turned to crowdfunding to test rape kits, absent adequate state funding.

In 1996, just days after her 17th birthday, Helena was abducted at knifepoint from a self-service car wash near her home in Los Angeles, held for 10 hours and repeatedly sexually assaulted. When she was finally freed, she says, the … Read More

Health Care

New Lawsuit Challenges Dozens of Texas Anti-Abortion Restrictions

Two years after a landmark Supreme Court decision, abortion providers and nonprofits are using the ruling to challenge a slew of laws from the last two decades.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, reproductive health advocates are challenging dozens of Texas anti-abortion laws that span two decades and encompass a wide range of restrictions. Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned major provisions of Texas’ omnibus House … Read More

Health Care

Trump Sides with Ken Paxton to Argue Pre-Existing Conditions Protections are Unconstitutional

In a brief filed Thursday night, the DOJ said it would not defend the ACA in a lawsuit brought by Texas and other Republican states.

Millions of Texans with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be denied coverage by insurance companies under protections established in the Affordable Care Act. Now, Attorney General Ken Paxton wants to throw patients with pre-existing conditions back to the mercy of insurance … Read More

sex ed
Health Care

‘We Love Our Neighbors, but It’s a Sin’: A Dispatch from a ‘Sex Ed Sitout’

Even though a majority of Texans support evidence-based sex education, religious right advocates have lobbied against teaching contraception in schools.

On a Monday morning in late April, Marcia Lamb’s 6-year-old son, Braeden, is running around the playground at Austin’s Zilker Park, making the most of an unusual reprieve from school. Braeden and Marcia drove from Corpus Christi that morning to … Read More

Health Care

What Could Happen if Trump Cuts Family Planning Funds from Planned Parenthood? Look at Texas.

A proposed Trump rule would block federal Title X funds from providers that perform or refer for abortions.

A new Trump administration rule proposes cutting off federal family planning dollars to any health care provider that performs abortions or even refers patients for the procedure. Federal funds are already banned from paying for abortions, but the rule could … Read More

Health Care

Texas Has the Most Cities More than 100 Miles from an Abortion Clinic, Study Finds

Texans in some cities must travel as far as 300 miles one-way for the procedure.

Health care “deserts” are often considered to be a rural phenomenon, but a study published this week illustrates the degree to which the wave of anti-abortion legislation in red states has wiped out abortion access even in higher-population areas. This … Read More