The Regulatory Battle over Abortion Pills Heats Up

Happy Tuesday! Not to brag, but Declan accurately predicted which three women were going to get sent home like ten minutes into last night’s episode of The Bachelor.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Financial Times reported Monday House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the coming weeks, but in California rather than Taipei as originally planned. While McCarthy had previously said he would visit the island if he became speaker, the venue change apparently came at the request of Tsai, who expressed concern about a potentially “aggressive” Chinese response. The People’s Liberation Army launched a series of military exercises last summer when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi—McCarthy’s predecessor—traveled to the island.
  • The U.S. and South Korean militaries engaged in B-52 bomber exercises over the Korean Peninsula on Monday in response to North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear threats. The drills come days after top U.S. and South Korean officials announced their respective militaries would hold their largest joint field exercises in five years later this month.
  • Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and her center-right Reform party won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections Monday, carrying 37 seats and all but ensuring she will stay on as prime minister and form a new coalition. Kallas and her party have been among Ukraine’s strongest supporters in the European Union and NATO.
  • A Belarusian court on Monday sentenced exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to 15 years in a penal colony on charges of treason and conspiracy to seize power after she challenged the 2020 election results as rigged in favor of Belarus’ longtime autocratic leader Aleksandr Lukashenko. Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania in the wake of the election, and appeared to dismiss the sentence that was handed down. “This is how the regime ‘rewarded’ my work for democratic changes in Belarus,” she wrote on Twitter. “But today I don’t think about my own sentence. I think about thousands of innocents, detained & sentenced to real prison terms.”
  • D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, wrote in a letter to Senate leaders Monday he was withdrawing the council’s controversial criminal code reform plan for additional changes—even as the Senate prepares to vote on a resolution overturning the measure in the coming days. The reform plan, which seeks to modernize the city’s criminal code while lowering maximum sentences for high profile crimes like carjacking and robbery, was passed over Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s veto and prompted President Joe Biden to weigh in, saying last week he would not veto the Republican-sponsored disapproval resolution.
  • The Atlanta Police Department announced Monday nearly three dozen people were arrested over the weekend—many of them charged with domestic terrorism—for attacking the site of a proposed police training center. Protesters who objected to the new facility—arguing it represents a militarization of police and is detrimental to the woodland area where it’s being built—allegedly attacked the site, throwing rocks, bricks, and molotov cocktails.
  • Four American citizens were kidnapped on Monday in Matamoros, Mexico—directly across the border from Brownsville, Texas. According to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the four were traveling across the border to buy medicine when they were taken at gunpoint—reportedly after being mistaken for Haitian drug smugglers. The FBI has offered a reward for their safe return. 

Fighting at the Pharmacy

A Walgreens Pharmacy storefront. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

In a post-Roe world, pro-life protesters haven’t given up picketing and praying outside abortion clinics or courthouses. But they’ve added a new venue to their list: the corner of happy and healthy.

A group of protesters broke into Walgreens’ annual shareholder meeting in January to decry the pharmacy chain’s initial decision to sell abortion pills, and others have picketed outside chains like Rite Aid and CVS in recent days. But after Republican officials in 21 states threatened legal action, the pharmacy chain recently said it won’t sell abortion pills in—or mail them to—those states, prompting backlash from those who support abortion access. States haven’t stopped wrangling over all abortion regulations, but pill abortions have taken a leading role in fights over access.

The Food and Drug Administration has allowed medication abortions since 2000, and they now account for more than half of abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion access research group. Most pill abortions involve two drugs—first mifepristone to dilate the cervix and block a pregnancy-sustaining hormone, then misoprostol to induce contractions. The vast majority of women who take these drugs don’t suffer serious complications—FDA data found about 85 percent of patients report side effects like fever or nausea, but serious outcomes like sepsis or hospitalization occur in less than 0.5 percent of cases. The FDA has recorded only 28 deaths among women in the U.S. using mifepristone for an abortion since the agency approved it in 2000 and concluded none could be causally attributed to the drug.

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