Weekend Reading: The Fight to End Abortion, Health Care in America, Elizabeth Holmes, and More
The best reporting and writing from the past week, and context to understand it.
There’s a lot of great journalism out there. Every week, in a format short enough that it won’t be clipped by your inbox, we aim to share some of the best, with additional context for understanding the biggest news of the day. This is a weekly digest of stories you can savor and reporting you can rely on.
The Mississippi Clinic at the Center of the Fight to End Abortion in America
Emily Wax-Thibodeaux & Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post
Everyone in Mississippi knows of the Pink House, brightly colored and standing out like a sore thumb at Fondren Place and North State Street. Everyone knows what happens there, and why it’s famous (or infamous, depending on your politics): It’s the only location that a woman can get an abortion in the entire state of Mississippi. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case that threatens to shut that clinic down. It’s been targeted by countless lawsuits before, but this is the first to be heard by the court that Donald Trump helped create with his three confirmed justices.
📖 ‘Roe v. Wade’ Is Now in the Hands of the 3 Trump Justices — David S. Cohen & Dahlia Lithwick, Slate: An interesting assessment of a nagging question for Supreme Court watchers: Are Donald Trump’s justices truly a product of his political movement and willing to give him the win he clearly sought when seeking a nominee who’d vote against Roe v. Wade? Or do the justices have a long eye for history and realize the steps they’d be taking by overturning the case would damage not only the Court’s legitimacy but their own?
📖 Brett Kavanaugh’s Latest Decision Should Alarm Liberals — Ian Millhiser, Vox: While David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick aren’t quite convinced that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett will go full Trumpian in their decision of the case, this piece from Vox argues that Kavanaugh has been showing a willingness to uproot precedent and not look back.
🗄️ From 2020: The #MeToo Case That Divided the Abortion-Rights Movement — Maggie Bullock, The Atlantic: The possibility that the most important abortion case in three decades could be decided by Brett Kavanaugh can’t help but remind one of his turbulent confirmation and the allegations against him. One of the biggest moments in the #MeToo campaign came from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against him, yet it wasn’t enough to keep him off the Court. In an intersection of topics, one of the pro-choice movement’s biggest stars and former physician at the Pink House, Dr. Willie Parker, was accused of sexual assault. This article tells both sides of the story.
🗄️ From 2014: The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker — John H. Richardson, Esquire: Before his fall from grace, Dr. Willie Parker was one of the pro-choice movement’s best representatives: an African-American Christian who’d avoided abortions for much of his early career but then had a “come to Jesus” moment where he embraced that providing abortions was his Christian duty.
🗄️ From 1994: The Abortionist — Tom Junod, GQ: Included here for no other reason than it’s one of the best magazine stories ever written. Tom Junod profiled John Britton, who’d taken over as an abortion provider in Pensacola, Florida, after his predecessor, David Gunn, was murdered by anti-abortion activists. Not long after Junod profiled Britton, he, too, was murdered by those who disagreed with his profession.
Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s The Secret?
Atul Gawande, The New Yorker
Atul Gawande is can’t-miss when his name appears in the table of contents of a New Yorker issue. In this story, he reminds us that health care is only as good as a country’s priorities.
Although Costa Rica’s per-capita income is a sixth that of the United States — and its per-capita health-care costs are a fraction of ours — life expectancy there is approaching 81 years. In the United States, life expectancy peaked at just under 79 years, in 2014, and has declined since.
🖥️ Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why. — Sarah Kliff & Josh Katz, The New York Times: Everyone can sense it. Everyone who’s undergone a medical procedure has thought it: Something doesn’t add up with these prices. This piece shows just how screwed up things can be. Sticking with my beloved Mississippi, here are the prices for a colonoscopy: $1,463 with a Cigna plan; $2,144 with an Aetna plan; $782 with no insurance at all. More details like this abound. Read it and try not to pull out your hair.
📖 Why It’s so Hard to Be a Nurse in America, According to 2 Nurses — Katherine Harmon Courage, Vox: From the story’s lede: “Last month, at the start of a fourth COVID-19 wave in the U.S., a nurse in a Seattle-area intensive-care unit announced her resignation on Twitter. ‘No amount of money could convince me to stay on as a bedside ICU nurse right now,’ she wrote. ‘I can’t continue to live with the toll on my body and mind. Even weekly therapy has not been enough to dilute the horrors I carry with me from this past year and a half.’” Read the whole piece to find out what drove her to say this.
📖 The Lament of COVID-19 Caregivers in the Nation’s Safety-Net Hospitals: ‘What Could Be Next?’ — Akilah Johnson, The Washington Post: This story is a reminder that, while COVID-19 is an equal opportunity offender, its lasting and damaging effects are not being felt equally.
They Still Live in the Shadow of Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes
Erin Griffith, The New York Times
Imagine being compared to Elizabeth Holmes, who was supposed to be the next Steve Jobs, but actually just ended up being the prototype for Billy McFarland, for no other reason than you happened to be a female entrepreneur, or from Stanford, or developed the latest tech in Silicon Valley, or some combination of all of the above. That’s what numerous women are facing, as the cloud of Holmes’ scandal lingers over companies that have no connection to the disgraced former head of Theranos.
📖 Blood, Labs and Fraud: Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes Is About to Go on Trial — Rachel Lerman, The Washington Post: Not sure what Theranos is? Not sure who Elizabeth Holmes is? Not sure why she’s going on trial next week? Not sure why any of it matters? Start here.
📖 Elizabeth Holmes’ Trial Could Reveal Her Side of Theranos Story — Christopher Weaver & Sara Randazzo, The Wall Street Journal: Now that you know who Elizabeth Holmes is, aren’t you curious: What’s her side of the story? I mean, even if we get to hear it, we’ll constantly have to wonder if it’s remotely close to the truth. But all criminal trials are more fun when you get to ask the question: Will she testify or not? And if so, what will she say?
📖 Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes: History of the WSJ Investigation — The Wall Street Journal: It’s fine. You can admit it: You still don’t know who Elizabeth Holmes is or what Theranos was or any of it, do you? No, no, no; it’s not just you. It’s actually really confusing. All of the chicanery first came to light by some intrepid reporting by the Journal’s John Carreyrou, who went on to write Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. These are the articles that would make up the backbone of the book.
🎧 The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial — ABC Radio: Are you tired of reading to figure out who this woman was and what her company promised and how she flim-flammed so many people? Then just listen to this excellent podcast, which is about to start airing new episodes when her trial gets underway on August 31st. It’s also about to be made into a movie, set to star Amanda Seyfried as Holmes.
More of Our Favorites From the Past Week
The Coronavirus Could Get Worse — Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic
Stillwater Runs Deep! — William Miller, Rolling Stone
I’ll Tell You the Secret of Cancer — Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic
Matthew Stafford Isn’t Satisfied — Yet — Seth Wickersham, ESPN
The news doesn’t stop. If you checked out last week’s edition and found the topics interesting, here’s a collection of stories published since.
The Opioid Crisis
📖 A Program Tried to Cut Opioid Addiction Among Veterans. Did It Cause Suicides? — Benjamin Cowan & Joshua Tibbitts, The Washington Post
The Fall of Afghanistan
📖 American Purpose After the Fall of Kabul — Phil Klay, The New Yorker
Tragedy in Haiti
📖 Almost 2 Weeks After the Quake, Aid Is Just Getting to Some Remote Towns in Haiti — Becky Sullivan & Carrie Kahn, NPR
This week, elsewhere on The Postscript.
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