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:

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


Five Months After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Surface, Still No Changes to Senate Policy

Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who has been tasked with developing the new policy, said it will be released in the “near future.”

In the weeks after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were made against two Texas senators last year, their colleagues called for “zero tolerance” and said changes “must happen now.” Five months later, lawmakers still haven’t updated the Senate’s 23-year-old, one-page … Read More

Health Care

Trump Administration Orders Refugee Shelters to Direct Pregnant Teens to Anti-Abortion Clinics

“The government certainly has been relentless in their attempts to find ways to force their anti-abortion beliefs on this population,” said an ACLU attorney.

Circumventing a recent court order, the Trump administration has issued new marching orders to refugee shelters around the country: Direct pregnant teens in their care to anti-abortion clinics, provide medically inaccurate information about pregnancy and promise that the federal government … Read More

Health Care

Lawmaker: State Metric for Success of Women’s Health Program is ‘Totally Misleading’

New data shows nearly half of the providers in the low-income Healthy Texas Women program saw zero patients last year.

Texas’ health agency touts its growing provider list as evidence that the state’s low-income women’s health program is rebounding after devastating budget cuts and the exclusion of Planned Parenthood. But reproductive rights advocates have long said that the number of … Read More