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Texas Downgrades COVID-19 Deaths After ‘Automation Error’

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The Texas Department of State Health Services revealed this week that an “automation error” in a new method of reporting COVID-19 deaths led to hundreds of people being mistakenly reported as having died of the coronavirus.

The statistical error put 225 fatalities on the state’s COVID-19 related death toll. A local Texas NBC affiliate stated: “On July 27, the state said 675 deaths were being added to the list of those killed by COVID-19 and that the increase was due to a change in reporting method that relied on death certificates rather than reports from various public health departments.

According to the data changes from Texas DSHS and posted by NBC Dallas Fort Worth:

The state health department then revised the death totals published those days as follows:

  • June 27 — changed from 5,713 to 5,489, +451 instead of +675
  • June 28 — changed from 5,877 to 5,650, +161 instead of +164
  • June 29 — changed from 6,190 to 5,952, +302 instead of +313

On Thursday, the state said another 322 Texans had died after contracting the virus when they reported the state’s death total reached 6,274.

The Texas DSHS stated in a Tweet that it has corrected the “COVID-19 fatality counts for the week of July 27.”

“An automation error caused 225 fatalities to be included even though COVID-19 was not listed as a direct cause of the death on the death certificate,” it stated.

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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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