New Abortion Law in Texas

According to BBC News, beginning November 1 one-third of Texas abortion clinics were barred from performing any abortions under a new law that has been passed. The law requires doctors performing abortions to have patient-admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Federal District Judge Yeakel ruled on October 28 that the new abortion law in Texas was unconstitutional.  The judge barred Texas from enforcing the requirement because he claimed that the law unconstitutionally restricted women's access to abortions. However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an emergency appeal against the judge's decision, and the panel of the appeals court ruled that while an appeal is being argued Texas must enforce the law. Many women in Texas now have to travel several hours to get to an abortion clinic.

In Texas an abortion is a two-day procedure, the first day being for consultation purposes and the second for surgery. Any women planning on getting an abortion would have to stay overnight at a hotel, find childcare and take days off of work. The areas affected most by this legislature are among the nation's poorest. Dr. Lester Minto, a doctor at an abortion clinic that is preparing to close because of the legislature,  told the Huffington Post that without access to his services many women will "do drastic things…some may even commit suicide." Among other aspects of the legislation were limitations of drugs that cause abortions, a requirement for doctors to perform abortions at special surgical facilities and it banned abortions at the twentieth week of pregnancy.

Food Stamp Benefits Cut for Nearly 48 Million Americans

Starting November 1, nearly 48 million Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially known as food stamps, lost aspects of their benefits. A family of four that received $668 per month in benefits under the old program have had their benefits cut by $36 per month — the equivalent of 21 meals. Many may now be forced to go to food banks in order to supplement these cuts. Food banks are preparing to feed more people holiday season.

According to USA Today, statistics from Feeding America report that, "Food banks served 37 million Americans in 2010, up from 25 million in 2006…." Senior citizens, children and people with disabilities were a few of the groups that were affected most by the cut. BBC News reports that the United States is spending $80 billion a year on food aid as a result of increased prices of food and unemployment rates — one in seven Americans are on the program. Meanwhile, statistics from CBS News state that, "…[R]oughly half of adults will go on food stamps sometime between the ages of 18 and 65.” CBS News went on to report that an estimated 900,000 former U.S. military personnel were enrolled in SNAP in 2011.

New York City Raises the Minimum Age for Cigarette Sales

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has been vocal of his support for a new bill that will increase the minimum age for cigarette sales within the city to 21. He has thirty days to sign this bill, which will include electronic vapor cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos. In most of the United States, the minimum age to purchase these products is 18.

According to BBC News, City Councilman James Gennaro also supported the new law, claiming that it would "literally save many, many lives." Both he and Bloomberg argue that individuals are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes when they begin smoking at a younger age.