GOP Lawmakers Support OTC Birth Control

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Out Of Left Field

The Headline

Why some GOP lawmakers support OTC birth control

The Grind

In addition to free healthcare and free college tuition, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to give Americans access to birth control without a prescription.

“Psst! Birth control should be over-the-counter, pass it on,” she tweeted.

Perhaps even more shocking than AOC’s suggestion was the response from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who suggested the two work together on a “clean bill making birth control available over the counter.”

Cruz and AOC are already working together on a bill that would ban former Congressmen from lobbying.

The Details

Cruz’s response is surprising considering his stance on abortion and reproductive care. Cruz, a Baptist, wants to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and believes abortion should only allowed when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.
His coalition “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” is chaired by an activist who once said the government should execute abortion doctors.

Here’s the catch: if birth control is available OTC, insurance companies could stop covering it. And employers could escape the controversial coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

Putting birth control on the shelves is also likely to drive up the price, which defeats the purpose of increasing its accessibility.

“You cannot have real access if you can’t afford it,” says Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

The Takeaway

Suspecting the Republican motive, Murray and a handful of Democrats introduced a bill that would require all private insurance plans to cover birth control without cost-sharing even if the FDA approves birth control pills for OTC use.

The bill might make it past the House, but has no chance of succeeding in the Senate.

“This is an opportunity for Republicans to join us,” says Murray. “I’m hoping they do, but I’m also a realist and know that they likely won’t.”



Evolution

The Headline

Australian study reveals the prevalence of bone spikes

The Grind

Physicians in recent years have been surprised to find patients growing strange bony spikes at the base of their skulls.

“I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly, I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull,” says Australian scientist David Shahar.

Shahar believes this trend has something to do with cell phones.

The Details

The human head is heavy (weighing on average between 10 and 11 pounds), and tilting it forward to watch videos on your smartphone puts pressure on the area where your neck connects to your skull.

In theory, the body responds to this pressure by creating extra bone mass.

In a 2016 study, Shahar and a colleague discovered that 41% of patients between the ages of 18 and 30 exhibited bone spikes measuring at least 5 millimeters. Ten percent of patients had larger spikes measuring at least 20 millimeters, with the largest spike measuring 1.4 inches.

Follow-up studies suggest the spikes are more common in males than females and are most prevalent in patients under the age of 30.

These spikes, while harmless, are a shocking indication of the time we spend staring at our phones.

“Imagine if you have stalactites and stalagmites,” says Shahar. “If no one is bothering them, they will just keep growing.”




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