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‘You parade around in a mask for show’: Rand Paul tells Fauci during hearing

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National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testified Thursday with other federal officials on the COVID-19 response.

In an exchange at a hearing on the nation’s coronavirus response, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul pushed back against Fauci’s claim that masks should be required for every American, including those who are already immune from COVID-19.

“There have been no reports of significant numbers of reinfections after acquiring COVID-19 naturally,” Sen. Paul said.

Paul went on to cite numerous studies that had significant evidence of long-term immunity after COVID infection.

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“So rather than being pessimistic towards people gaining immunity after they’ve had COVID, or had a vaccine, studies argue for significant optimism,” Paul told Dr. Fauci. “In fact, there have been no scientific studies arguing, or proving, that infection with COVID does not create immunity.”

“Given that no scientific studies have shown significant numbers of reinfections of patients previously infected, or previously vaccinated, what specific studies do you cite to argue that the public should be wearing masks well into 2022?” Paul asked Fauci. “If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theater? You have the vaccine and you’re wearing two masks, isn’t that theater?”

“Here we go again with the theater,” Fauci replied growing frustrated.

Fauci argued that the variants of the disease which are now circulating require every American to wear masks.

“What proof is there that there is significant reinfections with hospitalizations and deaths from the variants? None in our country. Zero,” Paul replied. “You’re making a policy based on conjecture.”

“You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in a mask for show. You can’t get it again!” Paul exclaimed. “You’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear masks who have been vaccinated.”

Fauci responded, “Let me just state for the record masks are not theater. Masks are protective.”

Watch the full video here.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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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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