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New Jersey Gov. Murphy signs bill preserving abortion in state law

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday that will enshrine abortion rights in state law.

The US Supreme Court last December heard arguments on two cases in which some predict abortion rights will be escalated to the state level to decide.

“Regardless of whether the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade or not, New Jersey’s position in support of the right to reproductive autonomy will remain clear and unchanged,” Murphy said during a signing ceremony in Teaneck, New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a Get Out The Vote rally October 28, 2021 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
(Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Murphy had pushed for the law, but it stalled in the Democrat-led legislature as the majority faced voters in November and then faltered from the loss of six seats in the assembly and a net loss of one in the Senate.

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The bill does not include a requirement for insurance coverage for abortion, which some advocates have campaigned for, but empowers state banking and insurance departments to study the issue and make new regulations.

A pro-life protester protests outside the Supreme Court building on the day of hearing arguments in the Mississippi abortion law case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021.

A pro-life protester protests outside the Supreme Court building on the day of hearing arguments in the Mississippi abortion law case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The New Jersey bishops expressed “deep disappointment and concern” at the passage, saying in a statement that it “openly effaces the human and moral identity of the unborn child.”

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So far, only New Hampshire has passed new legislation since the Supreme Court hearing: The state will ban abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger.

An anti-abortion activist participates in a protest outside the Supreme Court building in Washington December 1, 2021 ahead of disputes in the Mississippi abortion law case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.

An anti-abortion activist participates in a protest outside the Supreme Court building in Washington December 1, 2021 ahead of disputes in the Mississippi abortion law case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

But 12 states have enacted “trigger laws” aimed at restricting abortion immediately once the Supreme Court makes its decision and potentially overturns Roe, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Four other states — including Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia — have pre-Roe abortion laws that they would re-enforce, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a gender rights research group.

“What happened was that it all coalesced around the fact that the Supreme Court has a real chance to weaken or overturn abortion rights, and now it was time to introduce those legal protections,” he said Elizabeth Nash, State Policy Analyst at Guttmacher.

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Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have policies that specifically protect abortion rights, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Women’s Health

‘An amazing resource’ | Breast and GYN Health Project helps those with cervical and other gynecologic cancers – Times-Standard

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Genie Brady spent part of her vacation in an emergency room in May 2018. Returning home to Eureka, she checked in with her doctor, then a gynecologist.

Shortly thereafter, Brady, now 41, was diagnosed with stage 1A or early stages cervical cancer.

“It was a big shock,” said Brady, who works for a mortgage loan solutions company and has an interest in Humboldt Roller Derby. “…I had moved here for school, so I didn’t have my family[here]. The support system I had was friends I had accumulated through school, roller derby and work. It wasn’t something I could talk to anyone about right away. I had just gone through a cancer situation with my surrogate who died from it and even when you catch it early there are all these feelings.”

Looking for support, Brady turned to the internet and found the Breast and GYN Health Project (BGHP), a local nonprofit that serves as a community resource for support and education for those dealing with breast or gynecologic cancer issues.

“I googled and looked for a support group and they were the first to come up, so I reached out and got all their glorious benefits,” Brady said.

The project’s services, which are offered at no cost, include a patient navigation program, support groups, information specialists, volunteers, an extensive resource library, and more.

“The (Breast and GYN Health) Project helps people with breast or gynecology cancer by providing a lot of education. We can help explain things your doctors might tell you. We can help them come up with questions they might want to ask,” said Madelin Amir, Director of Customer Services. “We help them before, during and after diagnosis and treatment.

“With cervical cancer,” Amir said, “they sometimes need special treatment from a gynecologic oncologist. If they or local healthcare providers need help locating them, BGHP can help. We also have a support group for people with any type of gynecological cancer. Although they may have different types of cancer, women with these types of cancer usually have common experiences.”

Rose Gale-Zoellick, executive director of the Breast and GYN Health Project added, “Although we do not provide medical care at our facility, clients will find the education that both Dr. Mary Meengs (Medical Advisor) and Madelin Amir, very helpful. Madelin is a Registered Female Health Nurse. Her experience and training is useful in educating and supporting people living with gynecologic cancer.

Rose Gale-Zoellick is executive director of the nonprofit Breast and GYN Health Project. (Courtesy of BGHP)

“Although cancer diagnosis and treatment have improved significantly over the years, the social and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis has not changed significantly over the past 25 years. The statistics that every eighth woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime have not changed either. Local cancer patients still have a great need for the cancer support services that the BGHP offers,” said Gale-Zoellick.

In addition to receiving a special binder to keep her medical records and appointments in order, Brady said BGHP helped her find financial support resources for transportation and housing when she went to her doctor’s appointments in Santa Rosa.

“The biggest thing for me is (however) the self-help group. While you’re in the middle of it, it’s just a decision, decision, decision — and when you get past that, you have to deal with all the losses and gains — there’s still a way to go,” said Brady, who attends the support group for young women and the gynecologic cancer support group.

“Being able to laugh and cry and bitch and feel heard and to be a part of others who have been on this journey, even though it may not be quite the same, it’s (so) helpful,” said Brady. “…There’s a bit of different information in both groups, but both are amazing groups of women. It’s such a gem, an amazing resource. I’m so glad it’s here.”

Brady – whose treatment included a total hysterectomy – says she is now a “cancer survivor” who wants to make sure the breast and GYN health project is available to those who need it.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and the people at BGHP are hoping to be educated about this less common type of gynecologic cancer.

“Endometrium, which is the same as uterus, is the most common gynecological cancer, and next comes the type of cancers that are grouped together and called ovarian cancer…and then below that would be cervical cancer,” said Dr. Mary Meengs. Medical advisor to the BGHP and breast cancer survivor.

The American Cancer Society – https://www.cancer.org – estimates that there will be more than 14,400 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in 2021. (Cervical progenitors are detected far more frequently than invasive cervical cancer, she noted.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two screening tests that can help prevent or detect cervical cancer early: the Pap smear (Pap test ) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Getting the HPV vaccine—and not smoking—can also help prevent cervical cancer.

“These two things (Pap smear and HPV vaccine) in both early detection and prevention are so dramatic,” said Meengs, who co-chairs the Breast Cancer Support Group and the Advanced Disease Support Group. “…Work with your provider and see when a Pap smear and/or HPV test is due.”

Amir added: “It is really important that women have routine Pap tests and if they have an abnormal Pap test that they are followed up as recommended. It’s not uncommon for women to sometimes feel embarrassed when they haven’t had pap for a long time. Don’t be afraid to get checked out, even if it’s been a long time. Life gets in the way and we do our best. I encourage women to follow up as recommended if they have an abnormal Pap test. Ultimately, early treatment can help save your life. If you find you have gynecological cancer, the BGHP is here to support you. You don’t have to do this alone.”

The Breast and GYN Health Project helped 335 people in 2021. Eight of those people had cervical cancer, Gale-Zoellick said.

“In 2020, BGHP helped four people with cervical cancer,” she said. “We believe the increase is due to local ob-gyn and ob-gyn offices learning about our services and making recommendations, not because more women are developing cervical cancer.”

For more information on the Breast and GYN Health Project, visit https://bghp.org or call 707-825-8345. The BGHP office is located at 987 Eighth St. in Arcata.

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Women’s Health

For Your Health for Jan. 17, 2022 | Journal-news

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SCH expands free community COVID-19 testing

MARTINSBURG — Shenandoah Community Health is expanding its free COVID-19 community testing hours. The PCR test is now available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:00pm without an appointment or order via the drive-thru test tent at 99 Tavern Road.

This service is available to SCH patients and non-patients alike, and results are typically received directly from the lab within 24 to 48 hours.

Healthy Berkeley announces new health and wellness app

MARTINSBURG – Health Berkeley has announced the launch of the Change Your State app to bring health and wellness to local communities.

Focused on the areas of mind, movement and food, the app is designed to provide a wealth of resources for community residents.

App resources include blog posts, workouts, healthy recipes, and meditations. Users can also track their daily goals and earn points for completing those goals. All participants who accumulate a minimum number of points each month participate in the monthly prizes.

There will also be a Change Your State Facebook page and a weekly Change Your State podcast for those who don’t have a smartphone.

The free app will be available to download from January 8th in the Apple and Google Play Stores by searching for “Change Your State”. The App Challenge runs from January 15th to April 15th.

For more information, contact Abby Veigel at abbyveigel@gmail.com or Dana DeJarnett at dana.dejarnett@wvumedicine.org.

WVU Medicine offers a safe walking program

MARTINSBURG – Walk with Ease, an Arthritis Foundation-certified program to share strategies for safe and comfortable walking, will be held at the Berkeley 2000 Center, 273 Woodbury Ave. offered in Martinsburg.

The program will be offered from January 25 to March 3, 2022 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. All participants receive the Walk With Ease Guide Book, and the program is free and open to all.

This structured, six-week walking program is designed to help people with arthritis better manage their pain, but anyone can participate and benefit from the program. Based on research and tested programs in exercise science, behavior modification and arthritis management, Walk With Ease has been shown to reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis, increase balance, strength and walking pace, build confidence to be physically active and improve the general health.

Walk With Ease is a structured walking program that provides support, information, and tools to help participants develop successful exercise routines. During the program, participants will learn proper stretching and pain management techniques, as well as building endurance and walking speed.

Pre-registration for the Walk With Ease program is required and places are limited. Masks are suggested and social distancing will be followed. For more information or to register, call the Berkeley Extension Office at 304-264-1936 or contact Dana DeJarnett at 304-264-1287, ext. 31814 or dana.dejarnett@wvumedicine.org. Before beginning any exercise program, always consult your doctor.

Free National Diabetes Prevention Program Kit

WINCHESTER, Va. – Valley Health is offering new sessions of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a free 12-month course designed to help adults at risk of developing diabetes who are willing to make lasting lifestyle changes. One group meets virtually on Mondays from 12-1pm and the other meets in person on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30pm at Warren Memorial Hospital

To be eligible for the National Diabetes Prevention Program, individuals must be overweight, not have a diagnosis of diabetes, and have one or more of the following: Elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes, physical inactivity, and a history of gestational diabetes.

To learn more, visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/diabetes or call 540-536-5108 for the virtual program or 540-636-0314 for the in-person program at Warren Memorial Hospital.

Tai Chi begins at Berkeley Senior Services

MARTINSBURG – Tai Chi takes place on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. at Berkeley Senior Services on the High Street. Casual clothing and masks recommended.

For more information, call Eldon at 304-264-4783.

Good Samaritan Free Clinic schedule

MARTINSBURG – The Good Samaritan offers free health care for the uninsured and underinsured. The main clinic is located at 601 S. Raleigh St., Martinsburg. They do not keep appointments and look after the family doctor’s practice in all clinics except for the women’s health evening.

The opening hours of the clinic are:

• Wednesdays at 5pm

• First Tuesday of the month at 5pm

• Women’s Health Clinic on the third Tuesday at 5 pm

• Rescue mission every Monday from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.

Visit www.goodsamaritanfreeclinic.org for more information.

Living Well program manager training

MARTINSBURG – Free leadership training for a program to help people cope with chronic illness will be held via Zoom from January 19 to March 2, 2022.

Leaders help others learn the skills they need to manage their chronic conditions and improve their quality of life. No prior teaching or healthcare experience is required, just a willingness to help others improve their health.

Executives must attend all seven weeks of free training to be certified. The first session will take place on January 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Two meetings will be held every Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for the next six weeks until March 2nd.

For more information or to register, contact Dana M. DeJarnett at 304-264-1287 ext. 31814 or dana.dejarnett@wvumedicine.org. Registration closes on January 14th.

Virtual Chronic Pain Self-Treatment Program, new session announced

MARTINSBURG – Living Well, a Chronic Pain Self-Management Program, is a weekly workshop designed to help individuals coping with one or more chronic pains learn to take daily responsibility for their care, improve skills, needed to manage their pain and work effectively with their doctor.

A new Zoom workshop begins January 20th and will be held every Thursday through February 24th from 5pm to 7pm. The six-week program is interactive, informative and entertaining and offers the same content as the face-to-face workshop.

Living Well is free and open to people with chronic pain and other pain-related health issues. Everyone can benefit from learning the skills to coordinate all of the activities needed to manage their health and help them lead full and active lives.

Attendees will need a computer, phone, or tablet to access Zoom. The device must also have a camera and microphone. A quiet place and a stable chair are also recommended for the beginning of the lesson.

To register or for more information, contact Dana M. DeJarnett at 304-264-1287, ext. 31814 or dana.dejarnett@wvumedicine.org. Registration closes on January 18th.

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Women’s Health

When COVID Pushes Other Conditions Past the ‘Tipping Point’

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Physicians are seeing a shift in the types of COVID patients they see as Omicron spreads at an unprecedented rate — and it’s not just more of them. Instead of treating patients with classic COVID pneumonia symptoms, they are treating more vaccinated patients with other conditions whose COVID infections have thrown them into more serious health crises.

“We have tons of people hospitalized with COVID, the same number as last winter, but very different patterns,” said Christopher Cannon, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Among the vaccinated patients, it’s more the COVID tip kind of thing. It overturns the other conditions of the patients to worsen.”

Instead of primarily treating people with lung problems and ventilators, patients now have issues that have something to do with COVID and something to do with things like heart failure or heart disease, Cannon said. He is one of several doctors surveyed to theorize that fewer people with existing health conditions sought medical help during last winter’s COVID-19 peak – perhaps fearing they would catch the virus in hospital – and the Lack of supply is now catching up on you.

Cardiologist Biykem Bozkurt, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, suggested that the combination of delayed but necessary care that has accumulated over the years, staff shortages and an increase in at-risk individuals dying due to deteriorate from Omicron, progressively adds high.

“It creates a perfect storm in the healthcare system,” Bozkurt said.

The situation illustrates a growing challenge in monitoring and communicating about the virus.

Lay people and clinicians have engaged in a “with” versus “for” debate, in which COVID-19 is made as the primary diagnosis versus COVID-19 as the secondary or tertiary diagnosis.

Cardiologist Jim Januzzi, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, calls this a false dichotomy. There can be both the patient with just COVID and a patient with another problem who happens to test positive for COVID. But there’s a lot in between. Someone who comes to the hospital – “with COVID” and not “because of COVID” – may already be affected by the virus. It might have caused the problem they showed up with in the first place.

For example, if someone comes into the hospital with a broken hip and they end up testing positive for COVID, it doesn’t make sense to say they happened to have COVID. “If they hadn’t gotten the coronavirus infection, they wouldn’t have been weak, they wouldn’t have fallen and they wouldn’t have broken their hips,” he said. “And that’s the distraction that we, as doctors and nurses, orderlies and others who see these patients, really want people to stop getting confused about.”

But doctors say more research is needed to know what proportion of patients are hospitalized because COVID has complicated their primary diagnosis. And then there’s an entirely different possibility: that the virus itself causes heart disease, or any number of seemingly separate conditions.

“It will be impossible to decipher whether this is just because they were initially weak and then contracted a severe respiratory illness that threw them over the edge, or whether the coronavirus has a specific cardiotropic aspect,” Januzzi said.

“We have numerous discussions at the hospital management level on this chicken-and-egg issue,” Bozkurt said. But right now, it’s difficult for doctors to simply dismiss the role COVID is playing in patients with other health conditions, she said. “It’s going to take a little more refinement in science and research for us to be able to immediately say, ‘Well, you know, these people just happened to discover they have COVID,'” versus a COVID-worsened condition, or COVID as Main reason for admission.

Omicron has been characterized as milder by some research, but even with so many people vaccinated, a smaller fraction of a much larger infected cohort still needs hospitalizations more frequently than hospitals can bear. Meanwhile, the unvaccinated continue to exhibit severe pneumonia-like symptoms typically associated with COVID-19: shortness of breath, low blood oxygen and fever.

Januzzi said that until the Omicron wave subsides, arguing about how a patient’s condition is categorized is beside the point. “Ultimately, whether with COVID or for COVID, the message should be the same, which is to get vaccinated, wear masks and practice cautious behavior until this wave subsides.”

  • Sophie Putka is a corporate and investigative writer for MedPage Today. Her work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Discover, Business Insider, Inverse, Cannabis Wire, and others. She joined MedPage Today in August 2021. follow

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