News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Abortion, Malawi, and Ted Lasso

A bottle of mifepristone
March 15, 2023

On the Docket

The Story

All eyes are on Texas this morning.

What did I miss?

Today, a federal judge in Amarillo, TX, is set to hear arguments in a case that could affect access to reproductive health care for more than 40 million women in the US. Last year, the same group that helped overturn Roe v. Wade filed a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s decades-old approval of mifepristone. The drug is the first of two medications used to end a pregnancy. The group argues the FDA extended its authority by approving mifepristone without weighing the drug’s harmful risks. Health experts and the FDA dispute those allegations. Now, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk will hear both arguments and could issue a ruling as soon as today.

Would a decision be final?

If Kacsmaryk rules against the FDA, the agency would have to pull mifepristone from the market nationwide, even temporarily. That would also include states where abortion is legal. If that happens, some abortion providers say they’d consider only providing misoprostol (the second pill used in a medical abortion) or surgical abortions (where legal). Any decision would likely be appealed to the conservative appeals court. It could then go to the Supreme Court — where a majority of the justices were in favor of overturning Roe. Already, several protests are planned in anticipation of a ruling. It comes as the judge's actions have been raising eyebrows

What do you mean?

Earlier this week, Kacsmaryk faced backlash for intentionally trying to delay information about today’s hearing — including that it was even happening at all. Transcripts from a call show he wanted to avoid protests and disruptions. He also cited death threats and harassment the court's faced over the case. Media organizations accused the judge of trying to keep things ‘hush, hush’ from the public. Kacsmaryk’s attempts are also being called unusual, with legal experts saying public access to the courts is key to the judicial system. Meanwhile, during a press call we joined, VP Kamala Harris called the lawsuit against the FDA "an attack on a woman’s fundamental freedom" and "an attack on the scientific process that is crucial for public health."


This could be the most significant national abortion case since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Now, the decision of one male judge in the Lone Star State could affect reproductive access for millions of women and potentially weaken the FDA’s authority over the drugs it deems safe and effective.

And Also...This

Where people are mourning…

Malawi. Yesterday, officials said nearly 200 people died after Cyclone Freddy battered the southeast African country. The storm also affected neighboring Mozambique, where more than 20 people died. The cyclone hit the region after it made landfall for a second time in a month, causing mudslides and flooding. About 20,000 people have been displaced and several homes have been destroyed. Cyclone Freddy is expected to continue to bring heavy rainfall to both countries today. Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera declared a “state of disaster” in the country’s southern region as a result of the damage.

While we're still getting over the Chinese spy balloon, there's also...

A downed US drone. Yesterday, a Russian fighter jet struck an unmanned US drone flying over the Black Sea. US officials said the drone was conducting surveillance when two Russian jets dumped fuel on it. One of the jets hit the drone's propeller, forcing the US to bring it down in international waters. This marks the first time that Russian and US military aircrafts have directly encountered each other since the war in Ukraine began. And it comes amid heightened tensions between the US and Russia. US officials called Russia’s moves “reckless, environmentally unsound, and unprofessional.” The Kremlin denied that its jets were in contact with the drone.

What’s trying to change 'forever' to 'never'…

The EPA. Yesterday, the agency proposed new limits on toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water. It’s the first time the gov has introduced national drinking water standards for "forever chemicals." PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down naturally in the environment. And have been linked to high cholesterol, infertility, lowered immune responses, and cancer. Now, the EPA hopes to limit certain types of PFAS to the lowest levels that can be detected in drinking water. The change could reduce exposure for at least 100 million Americans — especially those in smaller and disadvantaged communities. Meanwhile, critics are worried the change could bring hefty maintenance and operating costs. A final rule is reportedly expected by the end of this year.

What’s trying to make up for lost time…

San Francisco. Yesterday, the city’s supervisors held a hearing for a draft reparations plan. The proposal includes more than 100 recommendations, including paying each eligible Black resident $5 million. Critics reportedly said the proposal is financially impossible. But during last night's hearing, officials said the plan could help the city move "forward." It's unclear which recs will be taken up. A final report on the plan is expected this summer.

Who’s back on the pitch for one last time…

Ted Lasso.

What’s hot off the press…

Paris Hilton’s memoir.

While gearing up for March Madness

Don't forget the “Coors-icles.”

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