Alabama passes IVF bill and ‘Rust’ armorer convicted: Morning Rundown


A look at the war in Gaza five months after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. Alabama passes a new law to protect in vitro fertilization, weeks after a controversial state Supreme Court ruling. And why a Chinese American family in California is donating millions for Black college students.

Here’s what to know today. 

In Gaza, a worsening humanitarian crisis fueled by Israel’s stalled military goals

Five months after Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, almost half of Gaza’s buildings lie in ruins and at least 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the enclave’s Health Ministry. That organization, along with aid agencies, is now warning that some of the most vulnerable children in the territory have begun to starve to death.

The Israeli military controls swaths of the Gaza Strip, and it has threatened to attack Rafah, a southern city where 1.5 million Palestinians have fled, unless a cease-fire deal is reached by next week. Israel has not achieved its military goals: destroying Hamas in response to its Oct. 7 attacks, which killed 1,200 people, and rescuing the 100-plus remaining hostages taken that day. It is unclear whether either is even possible. 

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Abroad, the worsening humanitarian tragedy has heaped international pressure on Israel, including the U.S. Washington is also sponsoring talks in Egypt to negotiate a cease-fire by the start of Ramadan, but there is little sign of a breakthrough

“When children are starting” to “die from starvation, that should be a warning like no other,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian office, said at a news briefing Tuesday. “If not now, when is the time to pull the stops, break the glass, flood Gaza with the aid that it needs?” 

Read the full story here.

More on the Israel-Hamas war: 

Swift reaction after Alabama passes law protecting IVF

Two Alabama fertility clinics that paused in vitro fertilization services after a controversial state Supreme Court decision will now resume those services after state lawmakers passed a bill to protect the treatments. The bill “provides the protections that we need,” said Dr. Janet Bouknight, an IVF provider at Alabama Fertility. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology will also resume its IVF services but said it would continue to advocate for protections for “patients and our providers.” 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Republican-proposed bill into law last night after weeks of backlash prompted by the state Supreme Court’s ruling that embryos are considered children. The new bill offers civil and criminal “immunity” to doctors, clinics and other health care personnel who provide IVF, but it does not specify whether frozen embryos created via IVF have the same rights as children under state law. For that reason, some fear the new law doesn’t go far enough.

Biden’s ‘wake-up call’ in a critical primary race

A network of major Democratic donors say the traction of “uncommitted” in the Michigan primary is nothing to ignore, even though President Joe Biden saw a resounding win there last week (81% of votes for Biden, compared to “uncommitted’s” 13% of votes). In a memo sent to donors, progressive group Way to Win said, “Michigan 2024 is not an anomaly, just as Michigan 2016 was not.” In 2016, Hillary Clinton was caught off guard when Bernie Sanders beat her in the state’s Democratic primary but nonetheless headed into the general election thinking Michigan and other Great Lake states were safe. 

The “uncommitted” movement began largely over concerns about Biden’s support for Israel in its war with Gaza. On Super Tuesday, thousands more Democrats voted for either “uncommitted” or “no preference” in six states. And now, as the president races toward the 2024 nomination, his campaign is working to reassure fellow Democrats that they are working to address the war in the Middle East and other challenges.

More on the 2024 election:  

‘Rust’ armorer found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed faces up to 18 months in state prison after a New Mexico jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021 on the set of the film. A jury found Gutierrez-Red not guilty of tampering with evidence. A “major factor” in juror Albert Sanchez’s decision in the case was “pretty much not checking the weapons,” he said. “I mean, you can’t do that,” he told NBC News yesterday, after the verdict was announced. Sanchez said there was not much disagreement among jurors, who took about two and a half hours to deliberate.

During the trial, Gutierrez-Reed was portrayed by prosecutors as “negligent” and “careless” while Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys alleged that actor Alec Baldwin, who fired the round that killed Hutchins, was ultimately responsible in the death. The trial also featured a series of eyewitnesses who were on set the day of the shooting, including director Joel Souza and the film’s safety coordinator. A criminal trial for Baldwin is scheduled for July.

Cyberattack exposes health care system vulnerabilities

The aftermath of a cyberattack on Change Healthcare — a little-known but critical subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group — is stretching into its third week, with patients being forced to pay for medicines out of pocket, pharmacies unable to refill prescriptions and doctors offices caught in a bind. However, UnitedHealth said a new network connecting pharmacies to benefit managers could come online as soon as today. 

In the meantime, people are running into problems getting medicine critical to their health. Breast cancer patient Donna Hamlet, who is 73, is one of them. Her medication would cost her around $16,000 a month if not for insurance. Without the medicine, “the cancer would fill up my body, and I guess I would die,” she said. Other patients said they’ve had to forgo lifesaving medications or pay steep out-of-pocket prices.

Politics in Brief 

Government funding: House lawmakers passed a package of six spending bills in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown by the end of tomorrow. The package now goes to the Senate. 

Biden impeachment inquiry: Hunter Biden is invited to testify publicly on March 20 in a House Oversight Committee hearing as part of the GOP-led impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. 

Fani Willis investigation: The defense attorney who first alleged a personal relationship between Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutors Nathan Wade told a state Senate committee about how she found out about their romance.

Election integrity: A federal agency charged with safeguarding elections provided recommendations to rural counties and small towns on how to safeguard their elections, but not all of them can afford the fixes.

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Staff Pick: Unity in the margins of society

In the 1930s the Dongs, a Chinese American family in Coronado, California, weren’t able to rent a place to live because of racially restrictive housing laws. That is, until a Black couple stepped in. Gus Thompson, a former slave, and his wife Emma allowed the Dong family to rent and eventually buy their home when no one else would. 

Brothers Lloyd Dong Jr., left, and his brother Ron stand outside of their childhood home on C Street in Coronado.
Brothers Lloyd Dong Jr., left, and his brother Ron stand outside of their childhood home on C Street in Coronado. San Diego State University

Now, some of the descendants of the Dong family plan to use proceeds from the sale of the house to donate $5 million to help Black college students. This inspiring, anecdotal story recognizes the enduring impact of one family’s will to help another get ahead and brings it full circle. — Elizabeth Both, associate platforms editor

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