Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez joined KUT in January 2016. She covers politics and health care, and is part of the NPR-Kaiser Health News reporting collaborative. Previously she worked as a reporter at public radio stations in Louisville, Ky.; Miami and Fort Myers, Fla., where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.

Ashley was also part of NPR’s Political Reporting Partnership during the 2016 presidential election. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Several counties in Texas have reported rejecting hundreds of vote-by-mail applications in the past week because of confusion over new ID requirements created by a Republican-backed law that went into effect last month.

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For a second time, the Supreme Court has left in place a Texas law that bans most abortions. It's the most restrictive such law in the country. The court also ruled that abortion providers can file suit to try to stop it.

Texas already has the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S. — and they got tougher on Dec. 1. That's when a new law went into effect that adds penalties of jail time and a fine up to $10,000 for anyone who prescribes pills for medication abortions via telehealth and the mail.

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The SAFE Alliance in Austin helps survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. Back before Texas' new abortion law went into effect, the organization counseled a 12-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her father.

Piper Stege Nelson, chief public strategies officer for the SAFE Alliance, says the father didn't let the young girl leave the house.

Isabel Longoria runs elections in Harris County, which is where Houston is. She says she loves her job and thinks most people who do that kind work feel the same way.

"I am an election nerd and I don't know a single other elections administrator who is not an election nerd," Longoria says. "We geek out, literally, on having the coolest job in America that we get to run the founding principles of this country — which is free and fair elections."

The Biden administration is suing Texas over the state's restrictive voting law that was signed into law in September and is set to got into effect Dec. 2.

For years, Millicent McKinnon of Dallas went without health insurance. She was one of roughly 1 million Texans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid in the state, but too little to buy her own insurance. This was the situation until she died in 2019. She was 64 and had been unable to find consistent care for her breast cancer.

Lorraine Birabil, McKinnon's daughter-in-law, says she is still grieving that loss.

Updated August 21, 2021 at 1:12 PM ET

Some Texas Democrats who broke quorum last month have started to return to the state, which means lawmakers are starting to get back to work. In the coming weeks, that work will have to include the giant task of drawing new voting district lines for the state. Texas has grown more than any other over the last decade and has gained two additional seats in Congress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doubling down on its recommendation that people who are pregnant get the COVID-19 vaccine following new data underscoring its safety and effectiveness throughout pregnancy.

This recommendation is coming at a time when doctors across the country are reporting an uptick in the number of unvaccinated pregnant people getting hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19.

More than 50 Democratic state lawmakers from Texas have now been holed up in a hotel in Washington, D.C., for longer than a week.

The Democrats fled their state to deny Republicans a quorum in an effort to block restrictive voting measures from being passed during an ongoing special legislative session.

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Updated September 7, 2021 at 12:42 PM ET

Sweeping new voting restrictions are now law in Texas — a state that already had some of the most restrictive election rules in the country.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure into law on Tuesday. In a statement last week, Abbott said, "Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Last year, when Isabel Longoria had to figure out how to safely hold an election during a pandemic, she saw the daunting task as an opportunity to do things differently.

"I just started dreaming," says Longoria, the elections administrator for Harris County in Texas. "And I just said, 'OK, let's start from the beginning — not with what's possible first — but what do voters want, and what's going to make it safer?' "

Local hospitals are being affected by widespread water issues in the Austin area, following severe weather this week.

St. David's South Austin Medical Center said it lost water pressure from the city Wednesday, creating a series of problems.

"Water feeds the facility's boiler, so as a result, it is also losing heat," David Huffstutler, CEO of St. David's HealthCare, said in a statement.

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