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:

seton, abortion
Health Care


For one woman, that made a painful loss even worse — and she worries it could soon become routine across Texas.

A Catholic hospital in Austin forces patients who miscarry to consent to fetal burials. For one woman, that made a painful loss even worse — and she worries it could soon become routine across Texas. by Sophie Novack @sophienovack April … Read More

Health Care

What’s Going on with Texas’ Maternal Mortality Rate?

The truth about women dying from pregnancy-related causes is more complicated than it seems. We help make sense of things.

When data released in 2016 indicated that the rate of Texas mothers dying of pregnancy-related causes had spiked to inexplicable heights, the issue dominated headlines and made its way into stump speeches and legislative hearings. Texas was said to have … Read More

Health Care

In Her Own Letter to Trump Officials, Texas Republican Fact-Checks Ken Paxton’s False Claims on Women’s Health

In response to an Observer story, state Representative Sarah Davis wrote a letter urging the Trump administration to deny the Texas health agency’s request to regain control over federal family planning funds.

In a letter to the Trump administration Tuesday, Republican state Representative Sarah Davis chided Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for his recent incorrect claims about women’s health and urged the federal government to deny Paxton’s request to again give the … Read More

Ken Paxton
Health Care

Texas AG Ken Paxton is Very Angry About Women’s Health Programs He Doesn’t Seem to Understand

Paxton is trying to frame a looming battle over federal family planning dollars as one over abortion and Planned Parenthood.

In an error-laden letter sent to the Trump administration Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton managed to conflate two different women’s health programs, misrepresent why the state lost control over federal family planning funds and mislead the public for at … Read More

sxsw, medical marijuana, cannabis

‘Get High With Ricki Lake!’: New Film on Medical Marijuana Leaves Out Texas Families

Featuring heartrending stories, Weed the People aims to change the stigma around cannabis treatment — but fails to look much outside its California bubble.

“I smell weed!” Ricki Lake walks onto the back patio of a South Austin home and laughs. It’s Monday night and the backyard is filled with people visiting from California and New York for the SXSW festival in Austin this … Read More

Health Care

How Anti-Vaxxers are Injecting Themselves into the Texas Republican Primaries

“If we don’t do something quickly, the blood of our children will be on our hands,” said Republican Representative Jason Villalba.

A measles outbreak in Ellis County last month. A surge in mumps cases in 2017 that led to the highest annual total in Texas in 23 years. Skyrocketing vaccine exemptions among kids. Public health experts warn Texas is on the … Read More


In the Texas Legislature, Sexual Harassment Complaints are Rarely Filed, Haphazardly Maintained and Then Destroyed

Despite the Legislature’s reputation for sexism and sexual harassment, there are no official complaints on record in either chamber. What’s happening to allegations?

Late last year, amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct in politics, media and entertainment, reports surfaced of a pervasive culture of sexual harassment at the Texas Capitol. The problem has been widespread and women appear to have such little … Read More

Health Care

Texas’ Medicaid Waiver is a Ploy to Pay Even Less for Women’s Health

Despite state officials’ claims to the contrary, a waiver request for Texas’ low-income women’s health program wouldn’t expand access, advocates say.

In its crusade against Planned Parenthood, Texas has slashed funding for family planning providers, shuttered health clinics and declined millions of federal dollars for women’s health over the last seven years. The collateral damage: tens of thousands of poor women … Read More