Abortion pill fight could ensnare Biden’s FDA pick

Marshall’s workplace confirmed that he met with among the anti-abortion teams which are working to scuttle Califf’s affirmation within the lead-up to the Senate committee vote.

Dozens of influential anti-abortion rights organizations are mobilizing towards Califf, sending letters to senators arguing the previous Obama administration official has “a track record of rubber-stamping abortion industry demands.” They’re additionally assembly with members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the nomination, directing their networks of supporters to flood GOP places of work with calls, publishing op-eds in publications in style on the fitting and planning occasions within the residence states of swing votes like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who’re up for reelection this November.

The stakes are excessive as a result of 5 Senate Democrats have publicly opposed Califf over his document on opioids the final time he led FDA, late within the Obama administration, in addition to his time within the company sector. With solely 4 Republicans on the document supporting his affirmation and the potential of extra Democratic defections, peeling off even one or two extra Republicans could show deadly to Califf’s probabilities.

Neither the White House nor Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s workplace responded to POLITICO’s questions on how Democrats are countering the anti-abortion teams’ efforts and securing votes for Califf — or concerning the timing of a affirmation vote. White House spokesperson Chris Meagher mentioned solely that the administration is “confident he’ll be confirmed with bipartisan support,” including, “It is critical to have confirmed leadership in the midst of the pandemic.”

The FDA in December moved to loosen restrictions on abortion tablets, permitting them to be prescribed by telemedicine and despatched by mail to pharmacies or sufferers’ properties — scrapping decades-old guidelines requiring the drug to be distributed in-person by a medical supplier.

Though Califf was not concerned with that call, he stood by it throughout his December affirmation listening to, saying he trusted the company to make guidelines grounded in scientific proof concerning the tablets’ security.

The teams working towards his affirmation at the moment are pointing to this remark in addition to the FDA’s regulation of abortion tablets underneath Califf’s earlier management on the FDA to argue he’s the “wrong choice.”

In specific, they flagged the company’s 2016 resolution — when Califf was final commissioner — to alter what sort of knowledge FDA collects on adversarial reactions to the abortion tablets, decreasing the reporting necessities from all “severe, life-threatening, and fatal adverse events” to solely deadly adversarial occasions.

“There’s every reason to believe he will continue to ignore how women’s lives and health are impacted,” one anti-abortion rights group chief engaged on the anti-Califf effort however not approved to talk publicly advised POLITICO. “Basically, the FDA is permitting new back-alley abortions but this time it’s in women’s homes and dorm rooms.”

Anti-abortion conservatives are more and more prioritizing proscribing entry to abortion tablets because the Supreme Court considers the destiny of Roe v. Wade. Because the medicine are far cheaper than a surgical abortion and could be taken at residence even when the in-person allotting necessities have been in place, they’d been rising in recognition even earlier than the pandemic. More than half of abortions at 9 weeks of being pregnant or earlier are remedy abortions. And whereas many conservative-led states at the moment are shifting to ban or place restrictions on the tablets, progressive activists are working with worldwide teams like Aid Access to circumvent those laws.

Califf’s critics say they’ll hold the strain on senators till a ground vote is known as. That will embody telephone banks, Zoom conferences with lawmaker places of work, placing the affirmation vote on key vote scorecards that decide future backing from the teams, and hammering the problem at this Friday’s annual March for Life on the National Mall.

Students for Life of America, some of the energetic teams within the fight, additionally launched a brand new national poll of 900 younger voters on Tuesday that discovered 59 % oppose the FDA’s abortion pill coverage and need to require an ultrasound as a situation for acquiring the tablets. Nearly 70 % say they’re “more likely to support a candidate who supports laws that require in-person medical care and testing before and after the sale” of the medicine. The group’s activists plan to focus on the numbers in conferences with senators this week about Califf’s nomination.

Senate HELP Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) took pains to counter these arguments throughout Califf’s affirmation listening to, citing research displaying the tablets to be no much less secure when distributed on-line and carrying an total low price of issues.

“I do want to make clear mifepristone has a strong track record of safety and effectiveness,” she mentioned. “And when it comes to women’s health, I expect FDA’s decisions to be made based on science, just as I do all FDA’s decisions.”

Adam Cancryn contributed to this report.

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