Health Highlights: Oct. 29, 2013
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Texas Abortion Restrictions Unconstitutional: Judge
A federal judge says new abortion restrictions passed by Texas lawmakers are unconstitutional and blocked them from taking effect as scheduled on Tuesday.
The new rules violate the rights of abortion doctors to do what they believe is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics, District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote Monday, the Associated Press reported.
He made his ruling in a lawsuit launched by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Their lawyers argued that a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic would force one-third of the clinics in Texas to close.
The plaintiffs' lawyers also said that forcing doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration's original label for an abortion-inducing drug would deny women the benefit of recent advances in medical science, the AP reported.
The new rules protect women and the life of the fetus, the Texas attorney general's office argued. The state's attorney general is expected to file an emergency appeal of Yeakel's order to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
A similar abortion law passed in Mississippi last year was blocked by a federal judge pending a trial scheduled to begin in March.
U.S. Military Body Fat Test Needs to be Changed: Experts
Some U.S. military personnel are turning to liposuction in order to remove excess fat from around the waist so they can pass the Defense Department's body fat test, which can affect their future prospects in the military.
Those who opt for the surgical procedure say they have no choice because the Pentagon's method of estimating body fat weeds out not just those who are flabby, but also those with bulkier, muscular bodies, the Associated Press reported.
Doctors and fitness experts agree and say that the military's fitness standards need to be overhauled. This includes outdated weight tables that don't reflect the fact that Americans are bigger, but not necessarily less healthy.
Defense officials say the body fat test is designed to ensure that troops are prepared for the physical demands of combat. While undergoing liposuction is not banned, the military does not condone the use of surgery to pass the body fat test, the AP reported.
Teresa Heinz Kerry Says Recent Seizure Related to Concussion Years Ago
A "bad concussion" four years ago was the likely cause of a seizure suffered in July by Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Heinz Kerry said her seizure was not related to her 2009 treatment for breast cancer, but rather to the lingering effects "after a bad concussion that was not properly treated at all ... from a very bad fall," USA Today reported.
The 75-year-old heiress to the Heinz condiment fortune said she suffered the concussion when she fell four years ago.
Heinz Kerry said her doctors told her it can take years for the brain to repair itself after a concussion and does so by forming new connections and circuits. The newspaper noted that "circuits formed can be overly excited and lead to seizures," USA Today reported.