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.”
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .