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Health Highlights: July 28, 2017

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

Controversial Inmate Birth Control Program Halted

A controversial inmate birth control program in Tennessee meant to reduce drug addiction in newborns has been halted by the judge who initiated it.

The voluntary program offered inmates 30 days off their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures (vasectomies for men and a contraceptive implant for women) and two days off their sentences if they completed an educational course about addiction in newborns, CBS News reported.

Judge Sam Benningfield in White County, Tennessee said he issued the standing order in May to combat rising numbers of infants born addicted to opioids. As of last week, 38 men and 24 women had taken part in the program.

However, critics said the order amounted to coercive sterilization of inmates and was unconstitutional, CBS News reported.

On Thursday, Benningfield rescinded the original order. However, he said he stood by the program but had to cancel it after the Tennessee Department of Health pulled its services.

"I did not change my mind," he said in a text message to CBS News. "The health department succumbed to the pressure and withdrew their offer of services. I had nothing to offer so rescinded the order. I bet they didn't tell [you] that part."

The health department informed Bennigfield "we would not be able to provide services consistent with his previous order," according to Shelley Walker, the deputy director of the department's office of communication and media relations.

She said "doing so would raise concerns about influences on personal choice and patients' ability to provide informed consent," CBS News reported.

Posted: July 2017


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