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WATCH: Sen. Paul and Dr. Fauci clash over COVID-19 origins

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The latest of clashes between Sen. Rand Paul (I-KY) and National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci came Tuesday during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing. During the hearing, Paul pressed Fauci on the origins of the coronavirus.

Paul brought up the controversial “gain of function” branch of research, which studies how to improve virus pathogens in animals in order to cause disease in humans. The Kentucky senator referred to it as “juicing them up.”

“Government scientists like yourself who favor gain of function research,” Paul began his questioning.

“I don’t favor gain of function research in China,” Fauci interrupted “You are saying things that are not correct.”

Paul went on as if he hadn’t been interrupted: “[Those who favor gain of function] say that COVID-19 mutations were random and not designed by man.”

But, Paul mentioned that even the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology scoured her own lab for evidence that the virus was created there. “The director of the gain of function research in Wuhan couldn’t sleep because she was terrified that it might be in her lab!” Paul said. The director was reportedly relieved when she found no evidence.

RELATED: GOP Senators push to declassify information on COVID-19 origins

“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done,” Fauci responded. He agreed with Paul and said he is in favor of further investigation. But he wanted to make it clear that his organization was not involved in its origins. “We have not funded gain of function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said. “No matter how many times you say it, it didn’t happen.”

RELATED: U.S., other countries express ‘concerns’ about WHO report on COVID origins

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism

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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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