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The gymnasts who heroically confronted Larry Nassar over sexual assault are fighting for a bill to protect other survivors.

Studies have shown that children who were sexually abused normally wait until the ages of 48 to 52 to report their abuse.

In order to account for this, 37 states introduced legislation to extend the amount of time sexual abuse victims can file lawsuits against their abusers and organizations that have covered up the abuse in 2019.

But in the state of Texas, the language in a new bill, which would increase the amount of time victims of abuse can take legal action against organizations that covered up abuse was surprisingly removed.


Not everyone is having it.

Jordan Schwikert, Alyssa Baumann and Tasha Schwikert, three of the gymnasts who accused Larry Nassar of sexual abuse and USA Gymnastics of covering up that abuse, want the language to return.

They appeared in front of aTexas Senate committee to make sure future generations are protected in ways that they weren't.

“I decided to testify today because I wanted to make sure that what happened to me and my sister never happens again," Schwikert said.

In the state of Texas, those who were sexually abused as children can file a lawsuit against their alleged abuser and the organization involved for up to15 years after they turn 18, or the age of 33. House Bill 3809 would raise the statute of limitations to 30 years after they turn 18, or the age of 48.

However, the law was amended, removing organizations from the longer statute of limitations. And yes, there was a reason for it. "Sexual assault is not something organizations do, it's what individuals do," said Rep. Craig Goldman who both introduced and amended the legislation. "Any employer in the state can employ somebody and not know that they have done this in their past."

But the point of the law isn't to punish organizations who don't know what their employees are doing behind closed doors. It's to prevent organizations from covering up abuse, thus allowing it to continue.

Under the law, victims would still have to provide evidence that the organization covered up their abuse.

The bill passed in the House by 143-0, but now there's a move to restore the bill to its original language. “Texas lawmakers have a moral duty to allow survivors like myself to hold everyone who played a role in the abuse accountable," Schwikert said. “Exempting institutions creates a world in which the cycle of abuse can continue. It's not enough to just hold abusers accountable — we must also look at the institutions and what they failed to do."

Photo by Anthony Lanzilote/Getty Images

This bill needs to become law.

In case you need a reason as to why this is important, Larry Nassar is currently doing time for child pornography and sexual assault. He was accused of sexually assaulting 265 women while pretending it was medical treatment. It's all sorts of messed up that he got away with it for as long as he did.

Hopefully, we won't have another Larry Nassar in the future, thanks in part to the brave gymnasts who are willing to speak out and to fight for the rights of others.

Photo by RENA LAVERTY/AFP/Getty Images

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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