Health Highlights: May 14, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Injuction Against Abortion Drug Rules Back in Court

Arguments for and against continuing an injunction against Arizona's strict restrictions on the use of abortion drugs were heard Tuesday by a federal appeals court.

The Arizona regulations - the strictest in the nation -- forbid women from taking the widely-used abortion drug RU-486 after the seventh week of pregnancy, and also require that the drug be given only at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved dosage and that both doses be taken at a clinic, the Associated Press reported.

The typical dosage is lower than the FDA-approved amount and the drug is usually taken at home. Previously, women in Arizona had been allowed to take RU-486 through nine weeks of pregnancy.

The new regulations were approved by the state legislature in 2012 and took effect for one day in April, before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against the rules. The court said the restrictions were likely to cause women irreparable harm, the AP reported.

The legal challenge was launched by Planned Parenthood of Arizona. On Tuesday, the group asked the appeals court to keep the injunction in place while it pursues its lawsuit, which contends that the new restrictions are unconstitutional.

Two of the three judges seemed to be in favor of continuing the injunction against the new rules and questioned their constitutionality, the AP reported.

"One could look at this legislation as pretextual and an effort to flat out reduce the number of abortions by any means," Judge Susan Graber said. "That's one concern I have."

The rules are not unconstitutional and were created to protect women's health, according to Arizona Solicitor General Robert Ellman. "The primary, if not the sole purpose, of this legislation is maternal health," he told the court.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will release a written decision in the coming weeks, the AP reported.

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Ohio Measles Outbreak Largest Since Mid-1990s

A measles outbreak in Ohio has reached 68 cases, making it the largest outbreak in any state since 1996, when Utah had more than 100 cases, according to health officials.

Measles is a growing concern in the United States, which could end up having the worst year since home-grown measles outbreaks were eradicated in 2000, USA Today reported.

As of Friday, there had been 187 cases nationwide, which is close to last year's total of 189, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. California has had 59 cases so far this year.

All of the measles cases in Ohio have been among Amish people. The outbreak began after unvaccinated Amish missionaries returned from the Philippines, where there is a major measles outbreak. The California outbreak is also linked to the Philippines, USA Today reported.

A mumps outbreak is also hitting Ohio, with more than 300 cases. With the two outbreaks, state health officials want families to be sure they are up to date on vaccinations before kids head off to summer camp and people get together for large gatherings.

Posted: May 2014


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