In Roe's Shadow

Karen O'Connor doesn't remember the fabled coat hangers or the back-alley abortions. What she does remember, growing up in western New York in the 1960s, were the girls who would abruptly leave her Roman Catholic high school every year, mysteriously headed to visit "a distant aunt." When they returned six months later, everyone knew they'd been pregnant, but few dared to ask about the babies they'd given up. "A lot of girls were saying a lot of prayers that they weren't pregnant," says...

Health: 'Medicare's Foundation Is Crumbling'

If the new Congress doesn't act fast when it returns to Washington next month, Medicare patients could face a severe shortage of doctors. This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will publish new fees for doctors who accept Medicare--and the agency expects to trim its payments by some 4 percent. That's on top of a 5.4 percent cut imposed last January. Congress has 60 days to reverse the new cuts, which stemmed from a government accounting error. "Medicare's foundation is...

The Battle Over Abstinence

Karie Hughes tosses a pair of black fuzzy dice across the classroom floor. "Sex before marriage is like gambling," Hughes tells students in her federally funded abstinence workshop, "Passion and Principles." Each number on the dice represents a risk, Hughes explains--pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease, a broken heart. Hughes, 42, is hip enough for her audience to relate to--she reveals a sliver of belly above her slim black pants--but authoritative enough to have an impact. By the time...

Travel: Get Home Safely

Emotional images from ceremonies marking the 9-11 anniversary were a stark reminder to many travelers that the world isn't as safe as it used to be. Predicting the next attack may be impossible, but access to the best travel intelligence could help ease your anxiety.At iJet (ijet.com), consumers can now tap into the same system used by the World Bank and 170 corporations. For $25, international travelers get a pre-trip briefing (visa requirements, vaccinations, political climate) customized to...

Travel: Get Home Safely

Emotional images from ceremonies marking the 9-11 anniversary were a stark reminder to many travelers that the world isn't as safe as it used to be. Predicting the next attack may be impossible, but access to the best travel intelligence could help ease your anxiety.At iJet (ijet.com), consumers can now tap into the same system used by the World Bank and 170 corporations. For $25, international travelers get a pre-trip briefing (visa requirements, vaccinations, political climate). Once you're...

Medicine: Hidden Healer?

The "abortion pill" mifepristone (formerly called RU-486) has long been a target of the religious right and anti-abortion forces. Last week three conservative groups petitioned the FDA to ban it, saying it is dangerous. They cited two deaths, one heart attack and two serious infections--cases that may or may not be directly related to the drug.Meanwhile, researchers with no stake in the abortion debate say mifepristone, with its hormone-blocking activities, could possibly have a wide range of...

'We're Not In Crisis Mode'

As West Nile virus creeps toward California, an unlikely warrior could provide the first line of defense: the chicken. The familiar fowl make irresistible targets for mosquitoes. Unlike crows, chickens don't get sick from West Nile. But they do produce telltale antibodies to the virus. So in test coops scattered across the state, more than 2,000 "sentinel chickens" submit to frequent blood tests. When antibodies do turn up, California health officials will know that the inevitable has occurred:...

D.C.'S Mr. Clean Takes A Mud Bath

After the tumultuous reign of former Mayor Marion Barry--who left office after a crack-cocaine conviction--bow-tie technocrat Tony Williams was supposed to restore order to the District of Columbia. Williams shored up D.C.'s finances, improved basic city services and was headed into re-election with high poll ratings, $1.4 million in his campaign war chest and no serious challenger in sight. But suddenly Mr. Clean isn't looking quite so tidy. Of the 10,000 signatures Williams submitted to get...

Stem Cells Slow Progress

Last August, in the first major policy speech of his presidency, George W. Bush laid out an artful political compromise on human embryonic stem cells. Though the cells hold great promise for medical research, they have to be created by destroying human embryos. Bush said he would allow federally funded research to proceed, but only on those 60 or so colonies or "lines" of stem cells already in existence worldwide. Researchers doubted that more than a few existed, much less 60.Now, a year later,...

Medicine: Drug Deal

Congress didn't pass a prescription-drug plan for seniors, but consumers of all ages could still get a break under the Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act (GAAP). Passed by the Senate last week, the bill aims to speed cheaper generic drugs to market by stopping lawsuits that automatically extend drug patents and keep generics off the shelves.Generic drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration have the same active ingredients as brand-name medicines, but can be 60 percent...

Washington Watch

After a rash of corporate scandals, Congress is finally cracking down on... yes, consumers. Lawmakers are poised to approve a new measure that would make it much tougher for individuals to file for bankruptcy protection. (The plan would also make it more difficult for disgraced corporate bigwigs to shield assets.) President Bush is expected to sign.What's at stake: The law tries to cut down on bankruptcies by making the whole process more complicated. It increases paperwork and requires...

'I Felt Like I Wanted To Hurt People'

Mike is hardly a seasoned drug user. When the shy 16-year-old bought marijuana in the bathroom of his suburban Hartford, Conn., high school, he didn't know what it was supposed to smell like. The stuff gave off such a strong chemical stench that Mike hid it in the attic insulation at home. The pot seemed more potent than he'd expected, too. "The next day, when most people would feel normal, I would still have trouble walking," says Mike, clad in frayed-bottom khakis and a red Nike T shirt. "I...

'People On Death Row Are Thrilled'

In the past week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions that could curb use of the death penalty. Ring v. Arizona said juries, not judges must sentence inmates to death. And Atkins v. Virginia said states cannot execute the mentally retarded.Though court watchers argued that the two rulings did not indicate a shift by the court away from support of capital punishment laws, death-penalty opponents were emboldened by the rulings. Defense lawyers already are sorting out what the decisions...

Prescriptions: Getting Their Fill

Leona Pickstone does not seem like a maverick. But the breast-cancer survivor, 67, has joined a growing insurgency against the high cost of prescription drugs. When Pickstone's doctors prescribed tamoxifen to keep her cancer-free, she was stunned by the price tag: $355 for 90 pills. Pickstone and her husband, Howard, eke by on his small pension and a Social Security check; Medicare doesn't offer any drug coverage. So Pickstone's nurses in Bennington, Vt., steered her to MedicineAssist--a plan...

This Case Won't Die

It's a murder mystery that's gripped the nation for nearly 50 years, rising to cult status through movies and "The Fugitive" television series. In real life, there was no "one-armed man," but a dark, bushy-haired intruder, whom Dr. Sam Sheppard blamed for the brutal beating death of his pregnant wife, Marilyn, on July 4, 1954. At the time, authorities dismissed Sheppard's story as a flimsy alibi, and a jury agreed, convicting him of second-degree murder. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned...

Oxy's Offspring

Nancy Green had never heard of the prescription painkiller OxyContin when the first addict showed up at her office in the fall of 2000. Track marks studded the young woman's arm. And she was seven-months pregnant. Green, a certified nurse midwife in the remote Maine town of Calais, has now become a drug counselor--and a reluctant expert on Maine's epidemic of narcotic abuse. Of the 40 babies Green delivered last year, 10 were born to women hooked on opiates--and OxyContin was their drug of...

Olympic Shorts

Perhaps he spotted the golden snitch? how else to explain how Switzerland's Simon Ammann, 20, the ski-jumping Harry Potter look-alike, flew farther than he ever had before--twice? We didn't spot a broom, so it must've been magic. Ammann, who had precisely zero World Cup wins coming into these Olympics, pulled off a gold-medal sweep, soaring to victory above the Wasatch Mountains on both the 90-meter and 120-meter hills. The feat has been accomplished only once before: in Calgary in 1988, by...

Yearning For The Yurt

I yearned to go to the Yurt. Dinner in the Mongolian-style tent in the woods is one of the most-coveted tickets in all of Utah--especially during these Winter Games. Tucked into the hills at the Solitude Mountain Resort, the Yurt promised a magical evening: 20 diners snowshoe or ski to a five-course gourmet feast among the evergreens. The Yurt normally books up weeks in advance, but we lucked into a last-minute reservation for Monday night when a band of Dutch speedskating fans bailed out....

Cammi &Amp; Company Go For The Gold

While most girls her age watched their idols twirl across the ice on figure skates, young Cammi Granato joined her brothers in cheering on the men's U.S. Olympic hockey team. The Granato kids watched the fabled "Miracle on Ice" (when the American team toppled the mighty Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics) so often that they wore out the videotape. For years, Granato and other female hockey players had no team of their own. Undeterred, she picked up a stick and played hockey with her brothers...

The Cleanest Olympics Yet?

Hours before the first athletes marched into Salt Lake's Rice-Eccles Stadium for the opening ceremonies, officials made an astonishing pledge. The 2002 Games, they vowed, would be "the most doping-free Olympics and cleanest competition ever."To most people, "doping" sounds like '70s slang for smoking pot. But in the world of sports, it means using performance-enhancing drugs--anything from too much caffeine to steroids--to gain an edge in competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency, the...

Who To Watch

Team USA Women's Hockey When women's ice hockey made its Olympic debut in Nagano four years ago, Team USA was an underdog. In a dramatic final match, the Americans upset archrival Canada to win the sport's first-ever Olympic gold medal. This year in Salt Lake, odds are on the Yanks from the start. Team USA has been unbeatable this Olympic season, amassing a 31-0 record, including an 8-0 winning streak against its northern neighbors.For years, female hockey players couldn't even dream of...

Talk Of The Town

Okay, I'll admit it. I have never been a fan of Olympic trading pins. Though the little colored trinkets create a bargaining frenzy at every Games, I've always had better things to do than stand around and swap cheap jewelry.When I walked into the media center and found a plastic baggie full of NEWSWEEK pins in my desk drawer, I stuck one to my ski jacket and tucked a few others into my backpack. I figured I'd hand some out to eager kids who would appreciate this year's design-an upside-down...

Street's Life

Almost as soon as skiing star Picabo Street landed in Salt Lake City, she began pursuing her latest Olympic goal: to carry the American flag at opening ceremonies Friday night.Just marching in the festive event is something of a miracle for Street. The former gold medallist has battled her way back to her third Olympics after a devastating injury to both legs in a crash sustained shortly after the Nagano Games. Being the flag bearer is always an honor, but toting the Stars and Stripes on...

High Alert

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson spreads his arms wide and gestures at the quiet, glowing computer terminals that fill a wood-paneled conference room just outside his sixth-floor office. The high-tech nerve center is Thompson's war room and, though it may be quiet now, it was humming during the height of the anthrax attacks last fall. And it will soon be fully staffed and on 24-hour alert again for the Super Bowl and the Olympics.Americans may have turned their attention to...

Another Round In The Abortion Wars

George W. Bush wasted no time. On his very first day in the Oval Office last January, the new president used the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to reinstate the Reagan-era ban on federal funding to overseas family-planning groups that offer abortion counseling."We share a great goal," Bush said in a statement to anti-abortion protesters last year, "to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. We know this will not come easily, or all at once." From the start,...

The Comeback Queen

Tucked into the back corner of a spinning class at a Crunch gym in Hollywood, Olympic skiing diva Picabo Street works out just like anybody else. Except for the TV camera aiming a bright light at her increasingly sweaty face. Or the layers of thick makeup she wipes from her eyes from an earlier TV appearance. Or the color-coordinated Nike workout gear that ensures she won't appear on camera without her sponsor's familiar swoosh. After a few minutes of talking and pedaling, Street pulls off her...

A Troubled Teenager's Tragic Final Flight Plan

Charles Bishop liked to brag that one day he would be on the evening news. He once told friends that a TV crew had filmed him performing practice landings in flight school. Another time he claimed a major airline planned to hire him as a pilot. His closest school friend, Emerson Favreau, described Bishop as craving attention, and didn't think much of it when Bishop e-mailed him recently to say that he'd be on the news Jan. 5. This time, Bishop wasn't kidding: Favreau turned on the television...

Justice Dept. Headquarters To Be Renamed For Rfk

It's not exactly what you'd expect from a Republican White House. But NEWSWEEK has learned that next week George W. Bush plans to rename the Department of Justice building after that most Democratic of politicians: Robert F. Kennedy. In a ceremony next Tuesday, on what would have been RFK's 76th birthday, Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft will gather with several generations of Kennedys in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice to make the announcement. Congress had weighed...

Bringing Greater Security To The Skies

It was supposed to be a quick hop into Washington's Reagan National Airport. The pilot of the USAirways jet reminded passengers about the new rules for flying into the centrally located airport: no standing for the last 30 minutes of the trip. In fact, on this short flight from Pittsburgh last Monday evening, passengers would not be allowed to leave their seats at all.But midway through the journey, a man in coach stood up and headed toward the front of the plane. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow,...

Capitol Jitters

It wasn't exactly a warm welcome. When I arrived at the Capitol for a noon lunch date with two aides of House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt on Monday, I was greeted by a stern-looking police officer. Gephardt's normally bustling suite of offices was quiet and empty--except for two other police officers sporting gas masks and gloves. "The office is closed," the first officer told me. "You'll have to leave." The gas masks were pretty convincing. I backed out the door and headed down the hallway...

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