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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

After Legislative Session, WA Leads Nation in Protections for Abortion

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Monday, May 8, 2023   

Washington state lawmakers have passed some of the strongest protections for abortion access in the country.

With another session in the books, and nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court eroded abortion rights nationwide, lawmakers in Olympia passed bills such as House Bill 1155.

The legislation protects people from having their health data sold online and potentially used to send users advertisements that are anti-abortion or anti-gender-affirming care.

Washington State Director of the Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Courtney Normand said it protects people's access to care.

"It's going to prevent apps and websites like health-tracking apps, search engines and other kinds of entities," said Normand, "from collecting people's data without their consent or awareness."

Normand said it also protects people from having their information shared by crisis pregnancy centers.

These businesses look like health centers but don't provide health care, so the information they collect isn't guarded under HIPAA. HB 1155 ensures this information can't be used without a person's consent.

House Bill 1469 is a reaction to states such as Idaho passing draconian laws to restrict abortion access.

Normand said this new law shields people who come to Washington state from out of state for an abortion or gender-affirming care.

"Let's say one of those home states decides to launch an investigation into someone who went and got care," said Normand. "If that were to occur, Washington state would not cooperate with that, thanks to this new law."

Normand said organizations such as hers have been gearing up for increased demand and the Legislature has recognized the strain this will create.

"They're by our side by providing funding," said Normand. "For example, grants that help us invest in our workforce or help us make sure that we have top-notch security systems, and also simply covering people's care for those who can't afford it."




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