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NY debuts COVID-19 Passport to prove vaccination

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New York residents were able to show proof of vaccination Friday by pulling up a code on their cell phone or a printout to prove to others that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Is this still America? Where does all this lead? Similar platforms are being used or will be implemented around the world and there is concern that privacy rights and the rights of those who do not want to be vaccinated will be trampled on by the government.

Here’s an excerpt of what is happening in New York:

This is what the new vaccine passport offers its users as stated first-in-the-nation certification, called the Excelsior Pass, will be useful first at large-scale venues like Madison Square Garden, but next week will be accepted at dozens of event, arts and entertainment venues statewide. It already enables people to increase the size of a wedding party, or other catered event.

The app, championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support the recovery of industries most affected by the pandemic, is funded by the state and available for free to businesses and anyone with vaccination records or test results in New York. 

Like an airline boarding pass, people will be able to prove their health status with a digital QR code – or “quick response” machine-readable label. They’ll need to download the Excelsior Pass app, enter their name, date of birth, zip code and answer a series of personal questions to confirm their identity. The data will come from the state’s vaccine registry and also will be linked to testing data from a number of pre-approved testing companies.

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Supreme Court rules anti-abortion doctors lack standing to sue FDA

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In a unanimous decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the anti-abortion doctors who challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill mifepristone lack the standing to sue the federal agency. This ruling preserves the FDA’s existing approval of the drug.

The opinion, authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, emphasized that the plaintiffs presented “several complicated causation theories to connect FDA’s actions to the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries in fact.” However, none of these theories were sufficient to establish Article III standing, which requires a personal stake in the dispute.

National Review reports the lawsuit was filed in November 2022 by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and four pro-life doctors. The plaintiffs claimed that the FDA had no authority to approve the two-pill chemical-abortion regimen under Subpart H, a federal code section allowing expedited approval for drugs treating “serious or life-threatening illnesses.” They argued that pregnancy is not an illness but a normal physiological state.

The plaintiffs also challenged the FDA’s 2016 and 2021 decisions to relax restrictions on mifepristone, such as increasing the gestational age for its use, reducing required office visits, allowing non-doctors to prescribe the pills, and permitting mail delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abortion opponents expressed disappointment with the decision. Erin Hawley, a lawyer with ADF, criticized the FDA for allegedly endangering women by allowing the use of mifepristone without in-person medical supervision. Ingrid Skop from the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Katie Daniel from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America echoed similar sentiments, stressing their concerns about the safety of mail-order abortion drugs.

President Joe Biden, however, applauded the decision, highlighting the ongoing risks to women’s rights to necessary medical treatment in many states.

Justice Kavanaugh’s opinion stated that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a direct injury that would force them to participate in abortion procedures against their conscience. He added that concerns about the potential for increased emergency room visits did not justify legal standing.

Kavanaugh noted that doctors and citizens opposed to FDA regulations should seek changes through legislative and executive branches rather than the courts. This decision aligns with a previous lower court ruling that found the legal challenge was filed too late, beyond the statute of limitations.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, suspending the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. This decision was subsequently overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which restored access to the drug. The Supreme Court’s stay ensured that the drug remained available while legal proceedings continued.

Democratic lawmakers welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley described it as a “major relief & victory for anyone who has ever or will ever need essential medication abortion care.” Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized the challenge as baseless and underscored the safety and effectiveness of chemical-abortion pills. She warned of ongoing efforts by Republicans to impose a nationwide abortion ban and called for continued protection of reproductive freedom.

 

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