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As the state health department prepares to implement stringent new abortion facility regulations approved by lawmakers in July, abortion rights advocates continue to voice concerns that the rules will endanger women.

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Political powerhouse Texas Right to Life is working overtime to try to defeat a compromise measure aimed at improving state laws governing “end of life” medical decisions. But with time running out to get Senate Bill 303 passed, the fight over the legislation has shifted from political to personal.

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While a weekend snowstorm raged in Washington, D.C., a small group of health care advocates gathered in a conference room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and were treated to a history lesson as well as a glimpse into the cold realities of Indian Country.

The topic: American Indian Health Policy. And unlike the weather that everyone talks about, a trio of speakers addressed a subject they insist is largely overlooked.

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Hellan R. Dowden is founder and CEO of HR Dowden & Associates, a consulting group that represents clients with interests in health, education, social services, children, work force investment and training, technology and the public sect. She also co-manages Teachers for Healthy Kids, a collaboration of the California Teachers Association and the California Association of Health Plans, funded by The California Endowment to enroll kids in health care through schools. She represents county-organized health systems in Yolo, Napa, Solano, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

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Angie Wei is legislative director of the California Labor Federation, the state's AFL-CIO. The federation, which is a major player in California's health care scene, represents 1,200 affiliated unions and more than 2 million workers covered by collective bargaining agreements. Wei is also a member of the California State Senate's Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation. Her term expires in 2008.

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