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  • For more than two decades, Nancy Mace did not speak publicly about her rape. In April, when she finally broke her silence, she chose the most public of forums — before her colleagues in South Carolina's legislature. A bill was being debated that would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; Mace, a Republican lawmaker, wanted to add an exception for rape and incest. When some of her colleagues in the House dismissed her amendment — some women invent rapes to justify seeking an abortion, they claimed — she could not restrain herself. 'For some of us who have been raped, it can take 25 years to get up the courage and talk about being a victim of rape,' Mace said, gripping the lectern so hard she thought she might pull it up from the floor. 'My mother and my best friend in high school were the only two people who knew.' As one Republican legislature after another has pressed ahead with restrictive abortion bills in recent months, they have been confronted with raw and emotional testimony about the consequences of such laws. Female lawmakers and other women have stepped forward to tell searing, personal stories — in some cases speaking about attacks for the first time to anyone but a loved one or their closest friend. Mace is against abortion in most cases and supported the fetal heartbeat bill as long as it contained the exception for rape and incest. She said her decision to reveal an attack that has haunted her for so long was intended to help male lawmakers understand the experience of those victims. 'It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you are on, there are so many of us who share this trauma and this experience,' Mace said in an interview. 'Rape and incest are not partisan issues.' Personal horror stories have done little to slow passage of bills in Georgia, where a lawmaker told about having an abortion after being raped, or Alabama, where the governor this week signed a law that bans all abortions unless they are necessary to save the life of the mother. In Ohio, a fetal heartbeat bill passed even after three lawmakers spoke out on the floor about their rapes — among them State Rep. Lisa Sobecki, who argued for a rape exemption by recounting her own assault and subsequent abortion. It was gut-wrenching, the Navy veteran said, but her decision to speak out was validated the next day when she was approached in the grocery store by a man in his 70s, whose wife of 41 years had read of her account that morning in the local newspaper. The story prompted his wife to tell him for the first time that she also had been raped. 'It's not just our stories,' Sobecki said. 'It's giving voice to the voiceless, those that haven't felt for a very long time that they could tell their stories and be heard.' Four years ago, when a previous fetal heartbeat bill was being debated, state Sen. Teresa Fedor, then a state representative, surprised colleagues with her story of being raped while in the military and having an abortion. She felt compelled to share the story again this year when the issue resurfaced. 'It's not something you like to focus on,' the Toledo Democrat said. 'And it didn't seem to have an impact in stopping the effort, so that's the sad part.' The governor signed the bill, without exceptions for rape or incest. Ohio state Rep. Erica Crawley, a Democrat representing Columbus, said she didn't intend to share the story of her sexual assault when floor debate on the heartbeat bill began. But she said she was motivated by a Republican colleague who alleged that witnesses at committee hearings on the bill had exaggerated or fabricated their stories. 'I wanted them to know that I'm someone you have respect for, and this has happened to me,' she said. Crawley felt she had no choice but to speak out: 'Because if I stay silent, I feel like I'm complicit.' Kelly Dittmar, an expert on women and politics at Rutgers University, said she would not be surprised if even more female lawmakers begin to speak out about their rapes and abortions. More women feel empowered by the #MeToo movement, she said, and the record number of women who won seats in state legislatures last year gives them a greater voice. 'For some women who have healed enough in their own personal battles with this type of abuse, they might be comfortable speaking about this publicly because they see a higher purpose for it,' she said. One such woman is Gretchen Whitmer. In 2013, she was minority leader in the Michigan state Senate when she spoke against a Republican-backed effort to require separate health insurance to cover abortion. Seven minutes into her floor speech, a visibly upset Whitmer put down her notes and told her colleagues that she had been raped more than 20 years earlier and that the memory of the attack continued to haunt her. She thanked God that she had not become pregnant by her attacker. In an interview this week, the Democrat said her decision to share her story was the right one. After her testimony, her office received thousands of emails from people thanking her. 'That was the thing that bolstered me the most and convinced me that I had to continue speaking out and running for office and taking action,' she said. 'There are a lot of victims and survivors out there who care, who need to be heard, who need to be represented and who need the law to reflect what we want and need to see in our country.' Earlier this week, Michigan's Republican-led Legislature passed two bills to restrict abortions and sent them to the governor. That governor is now Whitmer. She said she will veto both of them. ___ Cassidy reported from Atlanta. ___ Follow Julie Carr Smyth at http://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth and Christina Cassidy at http://twitter.com/AP_Christina
  • Retired NFL players seeking testing as part of a $1 billion concussion settlement must see a doctor close to home to prevent fraud and 'doctor shopping,' the federal judge overseeing the case ruled. Lawyers for thousands of ex-players complain their clients agreed to the 2013 class-action settlement largely because they could choose their own doctors after a history of mistrust with the NFL. Their lawsuits had alleged the NFL long hid what it knew about concussion risks and brain injuries. The new rule will require most former players to see a doctor within 150 miles (241 kilometers) or a neurologist within 200 miles (322 kilometers). The claims administrator can grant exceptions, perhaps for men living in rural areas. Lawyers for the retirees say there aren't enough neurologists in many parts of the country taking part in the program. And some clients hope to see subspecialists to deal with their particular medical issues. 'It's patently unfair,' said lawyer Craig Mitnick of Haddonfield, New Jersey, on Friday. 'It's not what their understanding was of the terms of what they were agreeing to. I think that's problematic.' Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, in Philadelphia, has overseen the case since 2011, and guided the two sides toward a settlement that initially capped the NFL's cost at $765 million over 65 years. That cap was later lifted as she grew concerned the fund would run dry far ahead of schedule. The payouts in the two years the program has been up and running reached $500 million this month, while another $160 million in awards have been approved but not yet paid. The plan offers more than 20,000 retired players baseline testing and compensation of up to $5 million for the most serious illnesses linked to football concussions, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and deaths involving chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Of the 872 awards paid to date, the average is just under $575,000, according to the claims administrator's latest online report . They include an average of $2.4 million for ALS (36 cases); $1.2 million per death with CTE (73 cases); $610,000 for Parkinson's disease (111); and $435,000 for Alzheimer's disease (244 cases). Many of those more serious — and more straightforward — claims were settled first. Now the two sides are battling over the more contested dementia diagnoses. Brody, along with claims administrator Orran Brown, has suspected some fraudulent diagnoses and 'doctor shopping' amid a flurry of dementia claims from four doctors now banned from the program. 'A few were brought to my attention where we had a lawyer from Pennsylvania and a player from Florida going to a doctor in Texas. And that was a red flag,' Brody said at a court hearing last week. The fund paid out $46 million in claims signed by the four doctors before spotting the problem, Brown told her. Less than 15 percent of the 1,700 dementia claims filed so far have been approved and paid. Many others are still in the evaluation process. To get a financial award, a player must receive a 'Level 2.0' or 'Level 1.5' diagnosis, when '2'' is considered moderate and '1.0' mild. The average award so far has been just under $800,000 for a Level 2 claim and just over $500,000 for a Level 1.5 claim. Philadelphia lawyer Gene Locks, who represents some 1,100 retired players, urged Brody last week not to limit his clients' choice of doctors. 'They had bad experiences with the NFL benefit program, both during their playing time and after their playing time, when they felt they were used and abused,' he said.
  • Nearly three decades ago, when Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards' wife was 20 weeks pregnant with their first child, a doctor discovered their daughter had spina bifida and encouraged an abortion. The Edwardses refused. Now, daughter Samantha is married and working as a school counselor, and Edwards finds himself an outlier in polarized abortion politics. 'My position hasn't changed. In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator,' he said. When he ran for governor, his view was the same. 'I'm as consistent as I can be on that point.' Edwards, who has repeatedly bucked national party leaders on abortion rights, is about to do it again. He's ready to sign legislation that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, when the bill reaches his desk. Louisiana's proposal , awaiting one final vote in the state House, would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, similar to laws passed in Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio that aim to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Alabama has gone even further, enacting a law that makes performing abortions a felony at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions. But the abortion bans in those other conservative states — spurred by anti-abortion activists hoping the addition of conservative judges to the Supreme Court could help overturn Roe v. Wade — were backed by Republican governors. A rarity in his party, Edwards' anti-abortion stance provokes angry outcries on social media from Democratic voters and disappointment within the party's broader ranks across the country. 'When Republicans are taking away women's rights at every step, it's on the Democrats to show that we are the party that will protect women. When we fail to do that, we make it absolutely hopeless for women around the country,' said Rebecca Katz, a progressive Democratic consultant. The abortion-rights debates that divide state Capitols across the nation cause few ripples in the Louisiana Legislature. It is one of the country's most staunchly anti-abortion states, with a law on the books that immediately outlaws abortion if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. State lawmakers annually enact new regulations seeking to curb access with bipartisan support. This year's so-called heartbeat bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich, has received little public opposition from lawmakers as it steadily advances. The ban, however, only would take effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi. The Louisiana bill includes an exception if the pregnant woman's health is in 'serious risk,' but not for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. 'It gives a very small window for a woman to be able to access abortion services,' said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights organization that researches reproductive health issues. Edwards' embrace of the anti-abortion legislation is unusual for a present-day Democratic governor, Nash said, although that was not always the case. 'If you think back 20 years, abortion politics were less along party lines,' she said. 'There were moderate Republicans who supported abortion rights because they felt there was a right to privacy and places where government should not go.' Edwards said his views are in line with the people of his conservative, religious state, who he described as 'overwhelmingly pro-life.' And he said he extends that philosophy to his decision to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program under the federal health overhaul law, a decision unpopular with Republicans, 'because I think that, too, is pro-life.' 'That's the way I was raised. That's what my Catholic Christian faith requires,' the governor said on his monthly radio show. 'I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that's not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day.' When he ran for governor in 2015, Edwards made opposition to abortion a central platform of his campaign. In a TV ad, his wife, Donna, described being advised to have an abortion because of their daughter's spinal birth defect. The ad showed a grown-up Samantha as Donna Edwards said, 'She's living proof that John Bel Edwards lives his values every day.' Four years later, as Edwards runs for a second term, his two major Republican challengers — U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone — have tried to hammer him for abortion rights policies endorsed by his party nationally. But that narrative is tough to make stick against a governor who repeatedly signs abortion restrictions, along with data released in March that showed the number of abortions in Louisiana declined each year of Edwards' tenure. 'This is not an easy issue to pigeonhole people — or especially me — on, at least, because I don't think the labels really work,' Edwards said. ____ Associated Press Writer Kevin McGill contributed to this report from New Orleans. ____ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte .
  • Two companies that provide health care in jails and prisons across the United States have agreed to pay $950,000 to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it discriminated against employees with disabilities by failing to accommodate them, requiring them to be fully healed before they can return to work, and firing them. A consent-decree agreement signed by a judge on Wednesday requires Corizon Health Inc. and Corizon LLC to provide annual training to employees who qualify under the Americans With Disabilities Act, review its policies and, if necessary, make changes to ensure equal employment opportunities are available to all employees and job applicants with disabilities. The lawsuit was filed last summer in Arizona, but the agreement applies to all Corizon facilities in the United States. The two companies provide health care to jail and prison inmates in more than 20 states, including Arizona, California, New York, New Mexico, Michigan, Colorado and Tennessee. Corizon has served as Arizona's prison health care provider for the last six years, though another company will take over those duties in July. The companies have agreed to hire an outsider with experience in employment-discrimination law to monitor their compliance with the agreement and designate at least three employees to oversee accommodation requests by employees with disabilities and assist human-resource and supervisory employees with their ADA responsibilities. The companies didn't acknowledge any violations of the ADA by entering into the agreement. The $950,000 in proceeds will be split among 23 former Corizon employees from across the United States. The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that the companies refused to accommodate employees with disabilities who had exhausted their leave under Corizon's 30-day medical leave policy or the Family and Medical Leave Act. It also alleged the companies had a policy of requiring employees with a disability to be 100% healed or to be without medical restrictions before they could return to work. Corizon had denied the allegations in the lawsuit. ___ Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.
  • A former British doctor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for groping female patients including a 12-year-old child. Alan Tutin assaulted victims at the Merrow Park Practice in Guildford, 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of London, between 1980 and 2004. Judge Nigel Peters said Friday that 'there cannot be a more serious abuse of trust that these courts have to deal with than that of a doctor and a patient.' He told the 71-year-old former physician in the Old Bailey courthouse that Tutin had carried out unneeded examinations 'no doubt to fuel your own sexual gratification.' The judge said many of his victims suffered for years and remain suspicious of doctors.
  • The rosy glow of indoor tanning pales in comparison to the millions of dollars in medical costs associated with tanning beds. >> Read more trending news A study, published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, found that tanning beds caused more than 250,000 cases of skin cancer and 1,200 deaths in 2015, at a cost of more than $340 million in medical bills. “The use of tanning devices is a significant contributor to illness and premature mortality in the U.S., and also represents a major economic burden in terms of the costs of medical care and lost productivity,” researchers from the University of North Carolina concluded. Previous studies have found significant health risks in the use of tanning beds because they emit UV-A and UV-B rays, which have been linked to cell damage, including DNA mutations and skin cancers. Scientists called indoor tanning “a public health hazard in the United States,” estimating that some 30 million people use tanning devices at least once a year and an estimated 35 percent of adults in the United States have used the devices. A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some 13 percent of students in the ninth through the 12th grades used a tanning bed at least once a year, too. Ultimately researchers said they hoped information in this study and others like it will help reduce the use of tanning beds.

Health Reporter Sabrina Cupit

  • More than 4500 people end up in the emergency room each year because of injuries from pool chemicals, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inhaling chemicals was the most common injury. CDC examined data on emergency department visits due to pool chemical injuries during 2015- 2017. The top diagnosis was poisoning due to breathing in chemical fumes, vapors, or gases—for example, when opening chlorine containers.
  • No slowdown in the spread of measles in the U-S, according to new numbers from the Atlanta based, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Thomas Clark, CDC says they have had 839 cases reported so far this year. The 75 cases represent a higher bump than the last two weeks, when about 60 additional cases were reported each week. There have been no new cases in Georgia, according to the state health department. Georgia has had a total of six cases in two different families.
  • Cocaine overdose deaths have been rising since 2012 and jumped a staggering 34 percent between 2016 and 2017, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Opioids may carry some of the blame. Many overdose deaths involve someone who took several different drugs, and researchers found that nearly three-quarters of the deaths involving cocaine in 2017 also involved opioids. Deaths also included super-potent drugs such as fentanyl.  Health officials say about 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. Nearly 14,000 involved cocaine, and nearly 48,000 involved some type of opioid.  When it comes to gender and age, the upward trend in fatalities was most pronounced for young women aged 15 to 24, although young men were similarly affected. Cocaine-related deaths were most common in the Midwest, while the West had the highest rate of fatal overdoses involving psychostimulants, the CDC researchers said.

News

  • Two men are behind bars facing charges of inducing panic after allegedly surfing on the swollen Great Miami River. >> Read more trending news  Passersby spotted the men in the water shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday. Andrew S. Cook Jr., 25, and Garrett M. Pickiering, 26, said they also had asked someone to call for help after they apparently fell into the river in the area of State Route 47 and Port Huron Drive. “We had prepared for a water rescue,” Sgt. Joel Howell, of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, said. “We weren’t exactly sure if they were in the water.” Deputies received word that the pair, who were wet and carrying an oar, were just south of town. “They ended up going to jail for inducing panic, the reason being they left after asking somebody to call for help for them,” said Howell, who added that Cook and Pickiering apparently admitted to seeing at least one deputy respond. Cook and Pickiering were each booked into the Shelby County Jail on suspicion of inducing panic. They await Monday morning court dates, according to online records. Howell said the river is especially dangerous because it is flooded over the banks, full of debris and has a swift current.
  • A Mississippi teen is fighting for her life after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Jonestown, Mississippi. >> Read more trending news  Family members said Lamonshae Williams was shot in the stomach during a graduation party overnight. She was rushed to Regional One in critical condition. Williams graduated from Coahoma Early College High School on Saturday. Relatives told FOX13 she graduated sixth in her class.  Another victim who was shot at the scene was treated at a local hospital and is expected to be OK. Lamonshae's mother Luetisha Gardner said she is heartbroken about the situation. She told FOX13 that Lamonsha's older sister was killed a few years ago. Jonestown has very limited police coverage, so Coahoma County deputies are currently handling the case. Officers have not identified any suspects at this time. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
  • A year ago, the world watched as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married at Windsor Castle’s historic St. George’s Chapel. Less than a year after their nuptials, they welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. On Sunday, the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary. >> Read more trending news  Harper’s Bazaar reported that the couple has shared behind-the-scenes moments from their big day in an Instagram post on Sussex Royal. Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline The video slideshow begins with a series of black-and-white photos that include images of Markle holding hands with her mother, Doria Ragland, and Prince Harry pretending to hitchhike to his wedding. Audio of “This Little Light of Mine,” which Sussex Royal said was selected by the couple for their recessional, can be heard as the images are displayed. The video slideshow ends in color images of the big day and wedding bells. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also shared a message to supporters, saying, “Thank you for all of the love and support from so many of you around the world. Each of you made this day even more meaningful.” Watch the video below.
  • Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College at institution’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.  But during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the billionaire technology investor and philanthropist surprised some by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019.  >> Read more trending news  “This is my class, and I know my class will pay this forward,” he said. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony. The announcement elicited the biggest cheers of the morning. Tonga Releford, whose son, Charles Releford III, is a member of the class of 2019, estimates that her son’s student loans are around $70,000. “I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith’s gift has been estimated at $40 million. Tonga Releford’s husband, Charles Hereford Jr., is also a Morehouse graduate. He said their younger son, Colin, is a junior at Morehouse, an all-male historically black college. The father said he doesn’t know who the keynote speaker will be at Colin’s graduation ceremony but is hoping for a return performance by Smith.  “Maybe he’ll come back next year,” he said.
  • The creepy, unsettling image of the “Momo challenge” will be coming to the big screen, according to one report. Deadline reported that “Getaway,” a horror film directed by Lilton Stewart III, will follow a group of teens on their last summer vacation before college who end up secluded in a cabin. >> Read more trending news  “In ghost story fashion, one tells the story of the urban legend, MOMO, a strange spirit of a bird-like woman that taunts its victims with specific personal details and violent commands via text message and phone calls,” Deadline reported. “What starts out as a harmless prank soon turns more sinister over the next 24 hours as the teens start disappearing without any motive or pattern.” The urban legend is inspired by the viral internet hoax that made the rounds last year. Related: What is the ‘Momo challenge’ and is it a hoax? Despite endless media coverage and local law enforcement warnings on social media of the supposed internet challenge, there were no verified cases of the “challenge” or people being harmed because of the game. “We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube,”  the video platform said on Twitter in February 2019. “Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”
  • DJ Khaled has released the music video for his single “Higher,” which stars John Legend and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. The song comes from the producer-DJ’s new album “Father of Asahd.” >> Read more trending news  Billboard reported that the video, directed by Eif Rivera, starts with a tribute to Hussle, who died after he was shot outside his now-shuttered The Marathon Clothing brick-and-mortar store March 31. The video, TMZ reported, is the last one Hussle shot. Behind-the-scenes video obtained by the tabloid site shows Legend, Hussle and Khaled standing on top of a parking structure with a piano and retro cars in shades of blue. Khaled said in a statement Wednesday that the video footage was shot days before Hussle died. Legend reflected on shooting the music video after news broke of Hussle’s death. “Recently, I embarked on a soul-searching journey down a road I never thought I would travel in a million years. It began when a tragedy robbed the world of an enlightened soul, a brother, a father, a partner and my friend, Nipsey Hussle,” the statement said. “Just days prior, he shared his energy and positivity with me on a video set for a song called, ‘Higher.’ After much prayer and reflection, and with the full blessing of the Asghedom family, I am sharing that moment with the world. “The very title of the song reminds us that vibrating on a ‘Higher; level was the essence of Nipsey’s soul. It is in this spirit, of moving forward, of preserving his mission that I, my co-workers, producers and label partners are donating 100% of all our proceeds from 'Higher' to Nipsey's children, Emani and Kross. “The Marathon Continues.” Watch the music video on YouTube and see a teaser below.