In a sometimes contentious hearing, a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Government Reform committee last week heard testimony and debated whether mifepristone (RU 486) should be removed from the market. Democrats who attended the meeting unanimously advocated letting science and not ideology or politics determine the future use of the medical abortion drug known in the US as Mifeprex.
The hearing was chaired by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), chair of the House Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee, who repeatedly stated that his opposition to abortion had no relevance to the hearing. Souder said his motivation for calling for the removal of Mifeprex from the market is his concern for women’s health following the deaths of five women out of the almost 600,000 who had used Mifeprex in the United States. All five had taken Mifeprex orally followed by a prostaglandin inserted vaginally. Four of the deaths have been determined to be from a rare bacteria (Clostridium) that has been identified in 30 fatalities, including eight women who had given birth, two who had miscarriages and also in some men.
The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), questioned why the hearing was focusing on only the deaths from the Clostridium bacteria where mifepristone was taken when there were more fatalities in people who had not been given the drug. Cummings said, “Our focus should be looking at all of the deaths, not bullying FDA” to remove mifepristone from the market. In her testimony before the Committee, Susan Wood, PhD, the former Food and Drug Administration Assistant Commissioner for Women’s, spoke of how the close monitoring of mifepristone has “alerted us that this bacterial infection is present and has caused deaths of other women who have given birth or had a miscarriage – more in fact than the number of women who underwent a medical abortion.” Wood went on to say that we need to improve systems that monitor maternal mortality to determine the impact of Clostridium and to “understand and prevent the other risks that women face with pregnancy.”
Questioning the basis for the hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-FL), ranking Democrat on the full Government Affairs Committee, said, “The reason I believe we are here...people wanted RU 486 pulled since it was approved.” Waxman further said, “Any regulatory decision on RU 486 must be made based on science and law not politics of the abortion debate.”
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .