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     By Elisha Brown

Despite plaintiffs’ claims that medication abortion is dangerous, data from more than two decades of mifepristone use indicate a generally low rate of adverse events and few deaths, according to the FDA. (Getty Images)

Despite plaintiffs’ claims that medication abortion is dangerous, data from more than two decades of mifepristone use indicate a generally low rate of adverse events and few deaths, according to the FDA. 
(Getty Images)

Do courts have authority to suspend abortion medication? 

Legal scholars doubt the Texas federal judge who will rule on an abortion pill lawsuit has the authority to supersede the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, States Newsroom National Reproductive Rights Reporter Sofia Resnick reported. If U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk does issue a wide ruling, the decision would be unprecedented.

“What this case is doing is only increasing the politicization of mifepristone and abortion, as well as the entire FDA approval process, and [it’s] calling into question the impartiality and the legitimacy of our court system, as well as our FDA approval process,” Georgia State University law professor Allison M. Whelan told States Newsroom. 

I’ve explained this before, but it bears repeating: Medication abortion is a two-drug regimen, mifepristone and misoprostol, the most common form of abortion care in the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.The FDA approved mifepristone over two decades ago and it has a safe and effective track record, with few deaths. If Kacsmaryk, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ sentiments and recently limited contraception access for minors in Texas, rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the agency could use its discretion regarding enforcement and withhold civil or criminal actions against a company that sells mifepristone, according to Sofia’s story. (Misoprostol is less-regulated, because it also treats ulcers.) 

Last week, Kacsmaryk questioned an argument from Erik Baptist, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the anti-abortion rights plaintiffs. 

According to the court transcript, Baptist argued that Kacsmaryk has the authority to order the FDA to withdraw or suspend approval of the drug. 

“And explain to me your argument on why this Court has that sweeping authority,” Kacsmaryk said. 

Baptist said that the court has the power to “enjoin and take whatever action to prevent harm.”

Regardless of the ruling, the outcome will cause confusion for people seeking to terminate pregnancies amid the flurry of anti-abortion laws across the country.

THE BEAT States Newsroom coverage

Nevada pushes reform for women in prisons

A proposal in Nevada could improve inadequate health care and wellness for incarcerated women in the state, according to Nevada Current. Assembly Bill 292 would provide free menstrual products in prison, expand the amount of time incarcerated pregnant people could spend with their newborns after childbirth and require correctional officials to make sure women have regular mammograms and pelvic exams

The Nevada Department of Corrections upcharges Playtex tampons by about $3 to $10.13 and Midol by $4 to $7.83. Incarcerated women in the state are not required to receive annual gynecological exams or mammograms. Newborns are removed from their parents within three days under current NDOC guidelines. A separate bill moving through the legislature would require more reporting about the treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming people in prisons. 

Nationwide, roughly 172,000 women and girls are incarcerated in the United States, and the rate of female incarceration has grown twice as fast as men’s incarceration recently, according to a report released by the Prison Policy Initiative this month.


Decade of racial disparities persist in Ohio infant deaths

From Ohio Capital Journal: Black babies in Ohio died at a rate 164% higher than white babies from 2011 to 2021, according to a report released by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. “Despite the efforts of many in both the public and private sectors, progress since 2011 has been minimal and uneven, and Ohio’s infant mortality rate remains higher than most other states,” the study found.

Hispanic infant mortality rates were also higher than the state average during the 2010s.The leading causes of infant deaths in Ohio were poor birth outcomes, sudden unexpected infant death, accidents, injuries and violence. Solutions to decrease infant deaths include education, employment, housing and transportation, according to the state report.


Kansas Republicans want doctors to spread misinformation about abortions

Kansas lawmakers are pushing a bill that would require health care providers to share misinformation about an abortion reversal program that lacks evidence, according to Kansas Reflector. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists criticized the idea of an abortion reversal process, which is not backed by science. Republicans passed the bill out of the House Health and Services Committee on Monday. 

Chairwoman Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Republican, said critics of the bill should have testified in person to voice their discontent. Doctors, Planned Parenthood and Trust Women Foundation submitted written testimony opposing the proposal. Providers who object to spreading the misinformation could face up to a year of a jail if the bill becomes law. 


THE PULL Commentary from Missouri

“When the college sophomore induces her own abortion in her dorm room on Missouri land, she is arguably engaging in an arrestable offense, punishable by years in prison. How will the attorney general respond when her roommate reports her to the authorities?” – Jamie Corley, columnist, Missouri Independent


THE PULSE Reproductive rights news across the country

  • Oregon lawmakers heard testimony for a sweeping bill that would widen access to gender-affirming and reproductive health care. (Oregon Capital Chronicle.) 
  • Iowa House Democrats unveiled reproductive health care bills that are unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled legislature. (Iowa Capital Dispatch.) 
  • Tennessee’s lower chamber passed a bill that would allow physicians to provide abortion care without fear of prosecution. (Tennessee Lookout.) 
  • The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that women have a right to abortions when necessary to save their lives. (Associated Press.) 
  • In 2020, 1% of abortions took place in Utah hospitals, according to the Guttmacher Institute. (The 19th.)

STATE BY STATE Abortion access in the U.S.


Track state-level developments on reproductive rights anytime at News From The States. Send tips and thoughts to ebrown@statesnewsroom.com, and follow her on Twitter @elishacbrown.

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