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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Roe v. Wade on the Ropes -

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Roe v. Wade on the Ropes


The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case next term that could result in a significant modification or overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. At issue is a Mississippi law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of gestation. That is well before a fetus is viable outside the womb and, under Roe, states may not ban abortion prior to viability.

Meanwhile, the unexpected announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks inside and outside has caused considerable confusion, as the U.S. does not have a way for people to prove they are vaccinated.


And despite a successful voter referendum, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has announced his state will not expand the Medicaid program after the Republican-led legislature failed to provide the state’s share of funding.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet and Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Many states have passed restrictions on abortion that are at odds with the Supreme Court’s earlier decisions on the issue. If it were to uphold the Mississippi law, the court would have to discard or substantially change its standards from the Roe v Wade decision and subsequent cases.
  • The decision by the justices is likely to come next summer, just months before the midterm elections, and it is likely to be used by both parties as part of their campaigns, no matter which way the court rules.
  • The CDC has been heavily criticized for its abrupt announcement on masks last week. Although some officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have sought to soften the message by saying it doesn’t mean people can’t wear masks or may not need them in some instances, public health authorities, states and some businesses were caught unaware by the announcement and are struggling with how to respond.
  • The use of masks also has riled the House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will remove the mask mandate on the floor only when 100% of members have been vaccinated. But some Republicans are refusing to take the shot or to say whether they have received a vaccine, and they are subject to fines when they are maskless on the House floor.
  • Biden administration officials announced the U.S. will provide 20 million doses of vaccine to other countries battling covid-19, but the donation cannot meet the need. World health officials have complained that the U.S. is too worried about holding back vaccine to give shots to children, who are at low risk, while millions of adults around the world are dying. Yet federal officials are still concerned that vaccination efforts here are not reaching enough Americans.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.



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