Health Highlights: March 2 2016
U.S. Bans E-Cigarettes on Commercial Flights U.S. Supreme Court Hears Major Abortion Case
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Bans E-Cigarettes on Commercial Flights
Electronic cigarettes have been banned from commercial flights, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.
The new rule -- meant to protect passengers from exposure to harmful chemicals -- applies to flights into and out of the U.S., and to domestic and international carriers, the Washington Post reported.
Traditional cigarettes have long been banned on U.S. flights.
The new regulation "is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, the Post reported.
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Major Abortion Case
One of the most important abortion cases in decades will be heard Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court, but could end up in a stalemate due to the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The case involves a challenge by abortion clinics and doctors against a 2013 Texas law that could result in the closure of more than three-quarters of the state's abortion clinics, NBC News reported.
Under the law, abortion clinics must meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and doctors providing abortion services must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The Supreme Court's decision is expected at the end of June and could affect similar laws in 12 other states. Some of those laws are currently on hold due to legal challenges, NBC News reported.
But Scalia's death has left the Supreme Court with eight justices and there are concerns about how that will affect the outcome of the Texas case.
"The most momentous abortion case in a quarter century is thrown into turmoil by the prospect that the court won't be able to give an answer because it will end in a tie," said Tom Goldstein, publisher of the SCOTUSblog website and a lawyer who appears before the Supreme Court, NBC News reported.
However, the challenge to the Texas law does have a chance of success. After a federal appeals court upheld the Texas law, the U.S. Supreme Court last June prevented most of the law from taking effect while the court considered whether to hear the case, the news network reported.
That decision required the support of five justices, which is the same number the challengers would need to win this case. Scalia consistently supported abortion restrictions, NBC reported.