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‘One of the safest places’: CDC Director Does Not Support Closing Schools

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At a coronavirus task force briefing Wednesday, the CDC director said schools are the “safest place” for children to be during the pandemic.

Dr.  Robert Redfield of the CDC said, “the truth is, for kids K through 12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school.”

He added, “I will say, back in the spring, there was limited data; today, there’s extensive data that we have — we’ve gathered over the last two to three months — to confirm that K-through- 12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning, and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly.”

Children are more likely to be exposed to the virus outside of the classroom, research has found.

“The infections that we’ve identified in schools, when they’ve been evaluated, were not acquired in schools.  They were actually acquired in the community and in the household,” Redfield explained.

Vice President Mike Pence agreed with Redfield and reiterated that closing schools would be a mistake.

“The more we’ve learned about this virus, the more it’s simply affirmed that we think our kids belong in the classroom.  We’re absolutely committed to continue to provide resources so our kids, our teachers, our administrators can safely — safely get back to school,” Pence said.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, spoke about the negative effects closing schools would have.

“The work that schools and school personnel do daily is valuable beyond any words I can deliver,” McCance-Katz said. “We know that in addition to education, schools provide our children a profound sense of security and stability.  The structure and safety of schools are integral to our children’s whole health.  The role of the school cannot be overstated.”

She emphasized the importance of continuing to wear masks, social distance and wash hands.

“I understand that parents and teachers may feel great anxiety.  That is why we must put into place the safety measures we know work. We must use masks.  We must enforce social distancing.  We must employ creative and innovative ways to limit the number of children and teachers in the building at any given time.  There are tools we have, and we must think through how best to use them to keep our schools open.”

According to Redfield, “It would be counterproductive from my point of view, from a public health point of view, just in containing the epidemic, if there was an emotional response, to say, ‘Let’s close the schools.’”

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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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