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iStock/WoodysPhotos(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of U.S. counties, cities and villages filed for class action status in a massive, multi-district litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies on Friday.

New York's Albany County and New Jersey's Bergen County, as well as Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Phoenix are just a handful of the approximately 1,800 municipalities already involved in the massive litigation against central figures and companies responsible for the national opioid crisis.

The federal bundle of cases accuses opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, of aggressively marketing the drugs while misleading doctors and the public about how addictive they are.

They also accuse distributors, like McKesson, of moving huge quantities of the painkillers without alerting authorities, and accuse pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens of selling large amounts of the pills to patients.

Thousands of U.S. counties, cities and villages filed for class action status in a massive, multi-district litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies on Friday.

New York's Albany County and New Jersey's Bergen County, as well as Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Phoenix are just a handful of the approximately 1,800 municipalities already involved in the massive litigation against central figures and companies responsible for the national opioid crisis.

The federal bundle of cases accuses opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, of aggressively marketing the drugs while misleading doctors and the public about how addictive they are.

They also accuse distributors, like McKesson, of moving huge quantities of the painkillers without alerting authorities, and accuse pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens of selling large amounts of the pills to patients.

It could be a step to resolve the case, because companies often prefer to settle all potential suits through class action, according to Carroll.

In fact,the judge appointed to oversee the case, Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the North District of Ohio, has already preemptively urged both sides toward a settlement.

In a statement to ABC News, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma said: "The company is committed to working with all parties toward a resolution that helps bring needed solutions to communities and states to address this public health crisis. We continue to work collaboratively within the MDL process outlined by Judge Polster."

Johnson & Johnson declined to comment on filing for class status.

McKesson, CVS Health and Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hanly said there is no settlement amount attached to the class ruling but that a potential settlement in the case could be more than $100 billion.

"Sometimes defendants like to enter into class settlements because it offers more closure," Carroll said.

An average of 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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iStock/CreativeNature_nl(NEW YORK) -- When you think about rabies, you might consider dogs or raccoons to be the first ones to pass the viral disease, but according to a new report, you’re more likely to get it from bats.

Rabies is a deadly virus that, up until 1960, had been spread mainly through domesticated animals like dogs. Once they began getting vaccinated for the disease, however, wild animals became the main rabies hosts, causing about one to three human cases each year in the United States — a drop from over 100 deaths a year in the early 1900s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Reducing rabies in dogs is a remarkable achievement of the U.S. public health system, but with this deadly disease still present in thousands of wild animals, it’s important that Americans are aware of the risk,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, said in a press release for the agency’s new report.

The report’s authors looked at national rabies data from 1938 to 2018 and compared that to the number of people who underwent rabies treatment between 2006 to 2014.

From 1960 to 2018, 125 people were diagnosed with rabies, the report said. Eighty-nine of those cases were acquired in the U.S., with 62 of them being transmitted by bats and the rest from racoons, skunks, foxes and native dogs. Cases that weren’t acquired in the U.S. came from dog bites during international travel, the report said.

Rabies is mainly spread through the saliva of an infected animal from a bite or scratch. It’s fatal over 99% of the time unless a person who believes they’ve been exposed to the virus receives a treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis before symptoms begin, according to the CDC.

“The first [symptom] is generally pain or tingling — like a bee sting,” Emily Pieracci, veterinary epidemiologist for the CDC and lead author of the study, told ABC News. “Soon after that, fever develops, followed by confusion [and] agitation. ... People eventually die from going into a coma.”

Symptoms typically take about a month before they start to appear, Pieracci said, adding that anyone who has been bitten or scratched by a bat or other unfamiliar animal should not “wait and see” if symptoms appear before seeking treatment — they should go to a health care provider right away as a precaution.

Bat scratches, Pieracci said, can be less than 1 millimeter wide — smaller than the head of a pencil eraser.

That said, bats live in a diversity of environments, including in urban areas, people’s attics, lodges and campgrounds, Pieracci said. But while they can be found just about everywhere, she said that bats also “play a critical role in our ecosystem and it is important people know that most of the bats in the U.S. are not rabid.”

Pieracci emphasized that you can’t tell whether an animal has rabies just by looking at it. She said that problems arise when people handle bats because they assume they’re not rabid. The same goes for dogs you might see when traveling internationally.

“A lot of people think a rabid dog is salivating, aggressive,” Pieracci said. “But I have seen them shy [and] timid, and [then they] bite when you’re not looking.”

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Hailshadow/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York is now the latest state to eliminate religious exemptions for vaccinations amid the ongoing measles outbreak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the removal into law Thursday, noting that the Empire State is in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in more than a quarter of a century.

Medical exemptions, which are relatively rare, will still be in place, but non-medical exemptions, including religious exemptions, would no longer be allowed in the state.

"This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis," Cuomo said in a statement.

"While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks," Cuomo said.

This comes as communities across the country grapple with how to stem the tide of the growing outbreak, which has led to 1,022 confirmed cases across the nation so far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this week.

Two areas of New York have the highest numbers of measles cases out of every outbreak in the country, the CDC numbers show.

New York City has had 566 confirmed cases from September through June 3, while Rockland County has had 259 confirmed cases from an unspecified 2018 date to June 6. The CDC has not reported an outbreak in any other part of the state.

A large portion of the confirmed cases in New York have been connected to areas with sizable Orthodox Jewish communities.

In April, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an order demanding that all persons, starting at the age of 6 months old, who live, work or attend school within the specified zip codes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, be vaccinated.

Isaac Abraham, who is involved with Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and frequently speaks to the media on their behalf, told ABC News he felt the blame being attributed to the Jewish communities is unfair.

Talking to ABC News in late April, Abraham pointed to de Blasio's order, saying that the mayor mentioned the Orthodox Jewish community more than a dozen times in his press conference.

Abraham said there were multiple reasons why some in the community do not vaccinate their children, including skepticism of government orders, frustration with how the city government has approached the issue, and not believing the vaccine will work. He added that the community has noticed an increased sense of anti-Semitism, as people, he said, appear to attribute the spread of the disease to the Orthodox Jewish community.

The tactic of eliminating religious or non-medical exemptions in an effort to increase immunizations is not a new move.

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill in May that removed residents' right to cite philosophical or personal objections as a reason to be exempt from vaccines, but the state still allowed religious exemptions.

Washington's Clark County was at the center of the state's outbreak, and personal exemptions were cited as the reason why 7.9 percent of kindergarten students were exempted in 2018, according to state records.

California lawmakers removed non-medical exemptions in 2015 after a measles outbreak in the state, but now there is some public debate over proposed bills that would tighten the restrictions on medical exemptions.

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Vasyl Dolmatov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With Father’s Day just around the corner, the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday published some statistics that offer a glimpse into what fatherhood looks like.

The first Census Bureau report took statistics from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation and found that 61.6 percent of men over 15 years old are fathers. That's about 74.4 million men, according to the report.

The demographic breakdown by the census shows that “among men ages 20 to 29, 21.2% of white men, 24.9% of black men, 12.4% of Asian men, and 29.4% of Hispanic men are fathers.”

Of the men who live with biological or adopted children, approximately 75 percent eat dinner with their children five to seven days a week, the Census Bureau found.

“Outings with children are also associated with positive child development and are an indicator of parental involvement. Around 40% of men in all family types take young children on outings at least three times a week,” a news release from the Census Bureau said.

Lindsay Monte, a demographer in the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch at the Census Bureau, said in the news release that "for the first time, we're able to look at the fertility of men as well as women."

“When looking at the full fertility histories of men, we see a depth and complexity to the experiences of fatherhood that we have not been able to see before in our data,” she said.

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alexialex/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The consumption of plastic has become unavoidable in recent years, but a new report is proving just how much humans are ingesting on a regular basis.

People are consuming about 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent of a credit card, according to an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund and carried out by the University of Newcastle in Australia.

That equates to about 21 grams of plastic per month and just over 250 grams per year, the report states.

The single largest source of plastic ingestion is through water, both bottled and tap, the analysis found. Other consumables with the highest recorded plastic levels include shellfish, beer and salt.

While the numbers are realistic in range, the consensus among specialists is that further studies re required to obtain a more precise estimate, the report states.

In the Australian study, researchers combined more than 50 studies on the ingestion of microplastic by humans to further understand the impact of plastic pollution on human health. The findings will help scientists determine the potential toxicological risks for humans going forward, said Dr. Thava Palanisami, microplastic researcher at the University of Newcastle, in a statement.

The long-term effects of ingesting large quantities of plastic are unclear, but studies are underway, according to the report.

The problem can only be solved by addressing the root cause of plastic pollution, said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini, in a statement.

“These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments," Lambertini said. "Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life -- it’s in all of us and we can’t escape consuming plastics. Global action is urgent and essential to tackling this crisis."

Since 2000, more plastic has been produced worldwide that all the preceding years combined, and about a third of the plastic ends up in nature, according to the report.

The WWF is urging the public to sign a petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution. The petition has garnered more than 700,000 signatures so far.

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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- After a wave of reports this week positioned Jessica Biel as taking a stand against children getting vaccinations, the mother and actress took to social media to set the record straight.

Biel, who lobbied against California vaccination bill SB276 on Wednesday, clarified her stance by saying that she supports vaccines for children but opposes portions of the bill.

"This week I went to Sacramento to talk to legislators in California about a proposed bill," she wrote. "I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians."

Biel wrote that she is against the part of the bill that deals with "medical exemptions."

"My dearest friends have a child with a medical condition that warrants an exemption from vaccinations, and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family’s ability to care for their child in this state. That’s why I spoke to legislators and argued against this bill," she explained.

"I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment. I encourage everyone to read more on this issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276. Thank you to everyone who met with me this week to engage in this important discussion!" she said.

As SB276 states, existing laws allow for vaccination exemptions if the parents "have filed with the governing authority" a doctor's note "to the effect that immunization is not considered safe for that child."

The new law would require doctors to fill out and submit a statewide standardized medical exemption request form, which would be "the only medical exemption documentation that a governing authority may accept," the bill says, noting that this form should be created and used henceforth from Jan. 1, 2021.

Any request for an exemption would require "sufficient medical evidence" that the immunization would put the patient at risk for severe adverse effects based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The bill would also require the state's Department of Public Health to create and maintain a database of approved medical exemption requests, and for anyone who received a medical exemption before the creation of the standardized form to submit a copy of their exemption to the department by Dec. 31, 2020, in order for it to remain valid. The bill would authorize health officials to revoke a medical exemption if they determine that it is fraudulent or inconsistent with CDC guidelines.

Biel didn't go into detail about the condition her friend's child has, but most states currently allow for medical exemptions for certain reasons, including having life-threatening allergies, weakened immune systems or conditions that make a child bruise or bleed easily, among others outlined by the CDC.

Some states are moving toward eliminating religious and personal nonmedical exemptions for vaccines, and some are trying to crack down on medical exemptions by requiring a doctor to write a letter, as seen in SB276 and California's SB277 from 2015.

"There is solid medical and scientific evidence that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks," the CDC says.

There has also been no credible association between vaccines like that for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and developing autism, the CDC says.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was designed to deal with cases where a health condition might develop after a vaccine and can provide financial support to those affected, but these cases are rare.

"Most people who get vaccines have no serious problems," a spokesperson from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program previously told ABC News. "Vaccines, like any medicines, can cause side effects but most are very rare and very mild. There is no credible scientific evidence of any link between vaccines and autism. The government has never compensated, nor has it been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines.”

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boggy22/iStock(PARIS) -- France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced to the National Assembly on Wednesday that by the end of September Parliament will be examining a bioethics bill that will include an extension of medically assisted reproduction — such as in-vitro fertilization — for all women, including those who are single and lesbian couples.

It had been one of President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promises, but was pushed aside due to a legislative traffic jam.

The prime minister said that the bill was ready, but the content of it was still to be made public.

Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet told French radio France Inter that the government was considering three options: "Either we extend the current legal regime to homosexual couples and single women or we create a special status for all children born from IVF with a third donor or we create a special status only for female couples and single women."

The third option has been decried by most LGBTQ organizations as it stigmatizes lesbian couples.

"This is an extremely delicate subject, because it also relates to concepts related to the protection of privacy," Belloubet added.

Another major point of debate will be the children's access to their origins. In April, 100 people who had been conceived through sperm donations called for an end to the anonymity of sperm donors.

Like its neighbors Germany, Italy, Malta, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, France authorizes in-vitro fertilization (IVF) but strictly for "stable heterosexual couples for whom a diagnosis of infertility has been made." Thousands of French women are thought to travel to Denmark or Belgium each year to undergo IVF.

Philippe said he was convinced "that we can reach a form of serene debate — profound, serious."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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solidcolours/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you've more than likely seen a post from an influencer or celebrity promoting a "detox" tea for weight loss.

The companies making the teas claim drinking them will help you slim down.

The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil has spoken out against celebrities who promote these "skinny teas" because of the teas' vague claims, but also because of the potential harm to women's body image.

Detox teas contain ingredients such as caffeine and senna leaf and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so consumers may not know the amount of each ingredient they're getting.

Plus, experts say there's no data to back up the teas' weight-loss claims.

"There is no peer-review data yet that has conclusively proven any specific health benefit directly attributable to tea, including that of losing weight," ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, physician and nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Ashton, told Good Morning America.

"However, there can be numerous benefits to drinking tea as a part of an overall healthy lifestyle and diet. As with most things, in moderation," she added.

While the internet and scientists debate the validity of detox teas and their safety, ABC News took a look at old-fashioned herbal teas and their potential health benefits:

Peppermint

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), peppermint, a common herbal tea ingredient, grows in Europe and North America and has been used for health purposes since the days of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.

The NCCIH writes, "Peppermint is used as a dietary supplement for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), other digestive problems, the common cold, headaches and other conditions."

Tumeric and Ginger

While turmeric is a common spice, it is also a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea that is often mixed with ginger.

Traditional Medicinals Herbalist and Marketing Manager Zoe Kissam says their turmeric and ginger tea "is an herbal trifecta that supports a healthy response to inflammation associated with an active lifestyle."

Dandelion

Most people see dandelion as a weed. However, Kissam says it is "known to help stimulate the liver and support healthy digestion."

While the NCCIH says we know very little about dandelion's health effects, they also say "dandelion greens are edible and are a rich source of vitamin A."

When deciding what to consume, Ashton said to keep in mind that "the possible health benefits associated with various tea consumption (including green, herbal and caffeinated black teas) are based on observation, not causation."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is making a play for your blood.

The social media giant launched a "Blood Donations" feature in the United States on Wednesday to connect blood donors with blood banks, including America’s Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, Inova, New York Blood Center, Rock River Valley Blood Center, Stanford Blood Center, Versiti and Vitalant, the company said in a press release.

The feature launched initially in Chicago, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Baltimore and Washington D.C., with a national roll out expected over the next few months.

 “Through our partnership with Facebook, individuals will be able to conveniently find and connect with their local blood center to help meet the ongoing need for a diverse pool of blood donors in the US,” said Kate Fry, chief executive officer at America’s Blood Centers. “By encouraging blood donation...each of us can assure that the more than 30,000 pints of blood used daily throughout the country is available.”

Facebook users can sign up by going to the "About" section of their profile, then going to "Blood Donations." Likewise, blood banks can request donations and send notifications to those nearby who have signed up.

The new feature's launch comes just ahead of World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

Facebook has been organizing blood donors in Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Pakistan since 2017, citing more than 35 million people registered through the platform.

"Blood donation centers in India and Brazil found that 20% of people said that Facebook influenced their decision to donate blood, according to in-person surveys conducted at partner blood banks," the company's product director of health, Hema Budaraju, wrote in the release.

It's unclear what the user privacy implications would be, experts said.

"I would be suspect of a large powerful company intervening in public health processes," Britt Paris, a researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute told ABC News. "At face value, it's no different than the Red Cross running an emergency blood drive and running an ad on local radio but I think the fact that platform companies are always trying to gather data in order to disrupt public services would give me pause in this arena."

Lawyer and bioethicist Kayte Spector-Bagdady pointed out that people who would have the most personal data concerns could very well be those who cannot give blood because of prior health issues or medical conditions.

"I will say that there are potentially health-related data hidden in who doesn’t sign up for this campaign. For example, the American Red Cross has an extensive list of people who cannot donate but, given that, many people will not sign up for this campaign anyway," Spector-Bagdady said. "I reviewed the Blood Donation Terms on Facebook and they seem pretty standard, and also say that the terms are generally subject to Facebook’s Data Policy which, as we know, is broad."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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marilyna/iStockBY: DR. VANESSA CUTLER

(NEW YORK) -- Once thought to be unattainable, an individualized nutrition plan based on a person’s specific metabolism, genetics and lifestyle may soon be a reality, according to researchers.

Those researchers, from King’s College London and Massachusetts General Hospital, announced preliminary results from their Predict study at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual conference. The researchers say it is the largest long-term study to investigate individual metabolic responses to food.

“There is a lot of variability in the ways in which healthy people react to food,” Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the lead author of the study, told ABC News. “Current nutritional guidelines are unlikely to be helpful for most.”

The study involved over 1,100 people, including 479 identical twins, who were given meals that were heavy in either sugar or fat in an effort to see how they responded. Specifically, they had a group of people fast overnight before feeding them a breakfast high in fat and low in sugar followed by a lunch that was low in fat and high in sugar. They took blood samples throughout the day to measure fat and sugar levels.

The participants were then sent home for two weeks, where they ate standardized meals. Each person’s sleep, exercise and additional meals were tracked. The researchers took stool samples at the beginning and end of the study to analyze each person’s microbiome — the bacteria found in the gut — to determine how it might relate to metabolism.

Although the total data is still being evaluated, the results so far have been surprising because they contradict the notion that a standardized approach to diet is best for everyone.

Identical twins, who share the same DNA, did not metabolize foods in the same way, the researchers said. In fact, they found no similarities between the way identical twins metabolized meals that were high in fat and only about a 30% association in the way they metabolized sugar.

Based on these findings, knowing how a person metabolizes sugar will not help explain how they might also metabolize fat.

“Genetics may not explain most nutritional differences among people,” said Spector. “Most of this variation that affects our weight, risk of diabetes and heart problems is potentially modifiable for an individual.”

The researchers also analyzed how a person's metabolism may influence food choices, such as if it drives them to prefer savory or sweet foods or vice versa. However, Spector said that it was still unknown "how food preferences relate to food responses, but we do have the data.”

Spector’s study also found that microbiomes differ between identical twins, who shared only about 37% of their gut microbes with each other. By comparison, the study found that unrelated people share about 35% of the same gut microbiota.

“There are many contributory factors to the microbiome,” Spector said, “including birth circumstances, breast feeding and early childhood infections.”

Using the study’s findings, Spector was able to design a computer program that could accurately determine how people's bodies would respond to sugar in the study. The hope is that this program will someday allow people to understand how different foods affect their bodies specifically.

Until then, Spector recommended that people incorporate other strategies into their diets.

“Most people will still benefit from eating more plants and fiber and more fermented foods to improve gut microbes,” he said. He also advocated for other novel approaches that may be beneficial, like intermittent fasting. “Try and experiment with your routine, try skipping meals and working out different meal timings to see which suits you best.”

The team is currently recruiting people for Predict II, a collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University, with the intention of adding to their understanding of metabolism.

Vanessa Cutler, MD, is a resident physician in psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center who is working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

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SOURCE: GUTTMACHER INSTITUTE | (ABC Photo Illustration)(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) -- The abortion debate in America has been dominated by news that conservative lawmakers in 11 states, including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, have approved sweeping new abortion bans, which are being legally challenged from going into effect.

But other states have moved in the opposite direction -- and Illinois is the latest to do so.

On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed the Reproductive Health Act, which establishes reproductive health, including abortion, as a fundamental right in the state.

"The Reproductive Health Act ensures that women’s rights in Illinois do not hinge on the fate of Roe v. Wade or the whims of an increasingly conservative Supreme Court," he said in a statement posted to Twitter. "In this state, women will always have the right to reproductive health care."

The Reproductive Health Act had stalled since its introduction in February, and in mid-May, its sponsor, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat, held a protest to call for movement on the act. She told ABC News at the time that it was "particularly frustrating" to see inaction while other states were passing restrictive laws.

The state Senate went on to sign the bill in late May.

Cassidy told ABC News she supports the bill not just to preserve abortion access for the people her state, but because "this does go beyond the people of Illinois."

In 2017, more than 5,500 women came to Illinois to get abortions from out of state, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Vermont's Republican governor signed a law declaring abortion a "fundamental right."

The bill, which Governor Phil Scott signed, also protects the right to contraception, sterilization and family planning. The state's House gave final approval to the bill on May 14, and there was some uncertainty about how the governor would act.

"This legislation affirms what is already allowable in Vermont – protecting reproductive rights and ensuring those decisions remain between a woman and her health care provider," Scott said in a statement. "I know this issue can be polarizing, so I appreciate the respectful tone and civility from all sides throughout this discussion."

Vermont is also considering Proposal 5, which would amend the state's constitution to declare abortion a right. That proposal, sponsored by state Sen. Virginia Lyons, passed in the state House and Senate, but must be approved again by a majority in both houses in the next legislative session before it can go before voters in a referendum. Its proponents hope to see it on the ballot in 2022.

"Thank God for Vermont," Lyons told ABC News in mid-May. "We're a bastion of sanity and understanding of reproductive rights and process."

On May 31, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, signed a measure that removed some barriers to access to abortion in the state, including a requirement that a doctor tell patients about possible "emotional implications" of abortions and ascertain a patient's age and marital status before a procedure. It also decriminalizes supplying pills that induce abortion without the advice of a doctor.

Sisolak, who also signed a bill allocating $6 million for statewide family planning grants, said in a tweet at the time that Nevada "will NOT go backwards when it comes to reproductive rights and health."

Today I signed signed 2 important bills that not only will make a difference in the lives of countless Nevada women and men, but also send a message to the rest of the country that Nevada will NOT go backwards when it comes to reproductive rights and health. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/cHCjeGOYQP

— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) May 31, 2019

Other states, though, have stumbled in their attempts to enact laws protecting abortion rights.

A Rhode Island Senate bill was voted down in committee in mid-May. State Sen. Stephen Archambault, a Democrat, said the bill went too far and wasn't strict enough as it related to abortion in later stages of a pregnancy.

"I wasn't comfortable with that," he told ABC News, acknowledging that he is "pro-choice," but had "serious concerns in the event that there is a post-viability, late-term abortion."

I have attached here my statement regarding my Substitute A to the Reproductive Health Care Act and a link to the proposed amendments.https://t.co/VYuSFBZpvo pic.twitter.com/J05KlKG9VN

— Steve Archambault (@SenArchambault) May 14, 2019

Archambault did draft an amendment that would codify Roe v. Wade in the state, but with stricter language around abortion in the later stages of a pregnancy. That amendment and a House bill "are still very much alive," he said.

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch withdrew a measure that would make abortion rights part of the state's constitution in February, saying he recognized it would not pass in both chambers of the State House and that he plans to reintroduce it in 2020, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Meanwhile, efforts to widen abortion access in Virginia led to a showdown between Gov. Ralph Northam and President Donald Trump. Since then, Trump has used increasingly violent and misleading language around "late-term abortions."

Conversations around "late-term abortion" were prompted in part by a long-awaited victory for abortion rights advocates in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act in January. That act codifies abortion as a right in the state and legalized abortion in New York after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the patient's health or life is at risk or if the fetus is not viable.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, a sponsor of the New York bill, told ABC News it has been "extremely disturbing" to see the recent anti-abortion laws pass and be signed in other states.

"I am fairly mortified that state after state, it is older men who are trying to dictate what kind of health care doctors can perform in their state and what kind of health care rights women of fertility age can access," she said. "Who are these men who think they have the right to determine what every women are choosing for themselves in coordination with their doctors? How dare these men tell doctors we will throw you in jail for providing basic health care services?"

She added that in addition to a lack of apparent understanding of reproductive health some anti-abortion lawmakers have shown, they are also acting against the wishes of the people. While an equal percentage of Americans self-identified as "pro-choice" and "pro-life" in a 2018 Gallup poll, a total of 79% of Americans said they believe abortion should be legal under any or certain circumstances.

"I hope it does backfire on [the anti-abortion lawmakers]," Krueger said, "and I hope more and more states realize following New York's path is in the best interest of their residents."

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AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former soccer star Hope Solo is opening up about recently about nearly losing her life after suffering a miscarriage.

The self-proclaimed "polarizing" figure, 37, has had a slew of incidents off the field, but in an interview with Elle magazine, she focuses on her life now with her husband Jerramy Stevens.

In the article, she says that early last year, she and her husband had been trying for kids, had gotten pregnant, then miscarried.

@HopeSolo is not tied up in a nice, neat package with a bow, at all,” says Lesle Gallimore, her college coach. “Don’t ever be surprised by anything she says. That’s rule number one.” The #USWNT legend returns to #FIFAWWC and more outspoken than ever: https://t.co/dOo7AO7jwV

— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) June 12, 2019

But it wasn't until she was still in pain a week after the miscarriage that she found out she had been carrying twins and one of the babies had been ectopic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg "grows outside the main cavity of the uterus" and that "an ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally."

"The fertilized egg can't survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated," the clinic adds.

Solo said she, in fact, was in danger and could have lost her life.

“The doctor said I was hours from dying,” she told Elle. “They ended up having to remove my fallopian tube.”

All the while, Solo had been running for United States Soccer Federation president and had to give a speech days after her miscarriage.

A big part of her platform and something she still fights for today is equal pay for both men and women in soccer.

 “That speech took a lot. Even before all that, it would have taken courage,” she says of speaking in public days after the serious health scare.

The article adds that she's since begun taking IVF treatments in hopes of someday soon starting a family.

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jacoblund/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Father's Day is right around the corner -- when paternal figures are honored and celebrated.

But a new survey published by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital found that more than half of fathers believe they are judged harshly as parents. Overall, 52 percent reported receiving negative feedback about their parenting style, while 90 percent felt that they were actually doing a good job.

The Mott Poll surveyed 713 men of children up through age 13, asking them to answer questions about how criticism impacts their parenting choices.

Sarah Clark, a health and behavior specialist, and faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, was a lead researcher on the survey.

"We've previously had a similar survey about mom-shaming, so we wanted to provide a balance with men," said Clark.

Of the fathers who reported being criticized about their parenting, 67 percent received criticism about discipline, 43 percent about diet and nutrition, 32 percent about paying too little attention to their children and 32 percent for being too rough.

Clark said discipline is a common topic of disagreement between mothers and fathers, and concerns regarding discipline are most likely secondary to different parenting styles. She added, however, that having different parenting styles within a family doesn't always mean that the father is wrong.

"Different parenting styles can be a strength that fathers bring to parenting," Clark told ABC News. "A father's parenting style can be enriching to their children -- help kids to behave positively and broaden their perspective of the world."

Regardless of parenting style, Clark's advice to fathers is to establish common ground with their co-parent early on to strengthen their bond and work as a team.

The University of Michigan survey indicates that 1 in 5 men are less motivated to remain involved with parenting duties when they receive harsh criticism. The survey also found that 40 percent of the criticism fathers receive is from their co-parent, with 25 percent from a grandparent.

When criticism comes from someone who really knows you it may be more difficult to accept, according to Clark. And that's why the fathers may not want to participate after being scorned.

Clark emphasizes that when a father received regular criticism from his spouse, he was nine times more likely to want to be less involved: "People close to you often understand you the best, and when they relay negative feedback, if often pushes fathers away. Their confidence in parenting is lost and they often are less involved because they may feel like they are not a good enough parent."

While the Michigan survey found that 90 percent of fathers are confident as parents, many felt that adults in positions of power didn't respect their parental role -- 11 percent have felt that a teacher assumed they were not knowledgeable about their child's needs or behavior, and 12 percent have felt that a doctor or nurse assumed they were not knowledgeable about their child's health. Nearly one-quarter of fathers have felt excluded from communication about their child's activities.

Dominique Teasley of Alexandria, Louisiana, is a father of four biological children and two step children ranging in ages from 5 to 17. He told ABC News that when he receives criticism about his parenting, it is most often about disciplining his children, and like many fathers in the Michigan poll, he said he receives the most parental feedback from the people closest to him.

"Many people think that I'm less strict towards my daughters compared to my sons," he said. "I have a soft spot in my heart for my baby girl, but, I offer my sons plenty of emotional support and compassion."

Teasley said he is actively involved in his children's education, and feels their teachers recognize this -- and that's part of his motivation to stay involved.

The Michigan survey did not take into account the structure of a family, and answers from fathers may vary depending if they are a single parent, or part of a blended or traditional family.

One of the more positive results from the poll is that more than half of fathers indicated that they are receptive to parenting feedback, and as a result they often seek out additional resources to improve their parenting.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Whitney Bliesner(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- A woman who served as the surrogate for her sister has just welcomed two healthy babies.

Whitney Bliesner is now a new mom to twins thanks to her own twin, Jill Noe, who carried the children for Bliesner due to a rare health condition that prevented her from doing so herself.

Rhett, a boy, arrived at 8:06 a.m. on June 7 weighing in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces. His sister, Rhenley, was born at 8:08 a.m. weighing in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces.

"The whole day was just surreal," Bliesner, who lives in Portland, Oregon, told ABC News' Good Morning America on Tuesday. "I got to do skin-to-skin with them. It was an amazing feeling. It was like a dream."

Noe gave birth at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center just outside of Portland.

The twins arrived just two months after Bliesner and Noe's story captured global attention in the news.

"We had no idea it would blow up," Bleisner said. "It's amazing to share our story and how amazing Jill is — how she decided to stop her life for me just so I can have a family."

"I've always been amazed by her, especially through this whole process," Bleisner added. "She bounced back so quickly."

When she was a teen, Bliesner was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), a condition that causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord and nerves, according to Mayo Clinic. She had a tumor removed in 1999, which caused her left eye to close. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, she completely lost hearing in her right ear and later lost 40 percent of hearing in her left ear, Bliesner said.

In 2016, Bliesner married her husband Peter. The couple wanted to start a family, but Bliesner's condition made it risky for her to carry children, she told GMA in April.

"I have a 50/50 chance of passing my disorder onto my child," Bliesner explained, adding that pregnancy hormones might increase tumor growth.

"I didn't want to risk getting any worse for my kids, I want to be able to take care of them," she said.

Bliesner went through her options and ultimately decided on surrogacy. She had a friend offer to carry her child, but that plan ended up falling through.

That's when her twin decided to step in and give her sister a selfless gift.

"She was losing hope and I said, 'I'll do it,'" Noe told GMA.

Donor eggs were used as Noe underwent in vitro fertilization. Noe became pregnant with twins during the second attempt.

"It's my best friend, someone I've come into this world with so it was really a no-brainer that I'd offer to be her surrogate," Noe said of Bleisner.

The Bliesners are now home with the kids and enjoying parenthood.

"It's so different and exciting," Bleisner said, adding that she's going to start baby books for her twins. "I can't wait for them to say 'Mom, [to] hear it for the first time."

"I'm interested to see if they'll have a connection with my sister," she added.

Noe told GMA Tuesday that it was a beautiful moment seeing her sister hold her babies for the first time.

"I truly had no words and was just so happy and relieved everyone was healthy," Noe said. "Pete and Whit are naturals when it comes to parents. Those kids are going to be so loved and it is beyond rewarding that I could help them become parents."

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nito100/iStock(NEW YORK) -- After experts have made great strides in treating people with HIV over the past few decades, an influential panel of primary care physicians and public health professionals is making a strong recommendation to help prevent the spread of the disease by encouraging anyone at risk to take the revolutionary drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“We have not previously had a guideline on PrEP, though HIV continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, with nearly 40,000 new cases diagnosed annually,” Dr. Douglas K. Owens, an author of the new guidelines published in JAMA and a professor of medicine at Stanford University, told ABC News. “PrEP is highly effective if taken as indicated.”

The recommendation comes from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and encourages anyone who is at high risk of contracting HIV to take PrEP -- brand name Truvada -- which has been shown to prevent HIV from spreading to HIV-negative people from those who have the infection.

People who face the highest risk of HIV include gay and bisexual men who have sex with men (MSM), for whom 67 percent of all HIV diagnoses in 2016 occurred, and transgender people, who are diagnosed with HIV at three times the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PrEP is a combination pill of two antiretroviral medications -- tenofovir and emtricitabine -- that work to stop HIV from multiplying after a person is exposed to it. The once-daily pill was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

The USPSTF recommends that anyone who has sex with a person who has HIV take PrEP. The drug has been shown to reduce transmission of HIV by 90 percent through sexual contact and 70 percent through injection drug use.

Other individuals who the USPSTF recommended take the drug include teen MSM, anyone who has had syphilis or gonorrhea within the past six months, MSM who had chlamydia within the past six months, people who use injection drugs or share needles, and commercial sex workers.

MSM and heterosexually active people who are in mutually monogamous relationships with a partner who has recently tested negative for HIV don’t need PrEP, according to the guidelines.

The new guidelines are consistent with 2017 guidelines from the CDC, which also recommended PrEP for people at risk of infection.

“Overall, the task force is concerned that a lot of people are not being screened for HIV,” said Owens. “People who you can identify as having HIV and who you are able to treat do live longer lives. Everyone should know their HIV status.”

PrEP has to be taken regularly in order for it to work. That’s why the authors of the new guidelines recommend that doctors help patients keep track of their regimen by building trust and open communication, education and establishing a system that sends out reminders for taking the medication.

PrEP does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) besides HIV, the authors wrote. In fact, only people who test negative on a recent HIV test are allowed to take it.

Sexually active people should practice safe sex by consistently using condoms, limiting the number of sexual partners, screening for STIs at least once a year and even abstaining from sex altogether, according to the CDC.

Dr. Colleen Ford, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Chelsea Health Center, is welcoming the new guidelines with optimism.

“The new guidelines will push us to offer PrEP to more patients,” Ford, who was not involved in writing the new guidelines, told ABC News. “We will start to offer it to those requesting tests for sexually transmitted infections and to those who test positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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