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What We’re Reading: Judge Questions Lawyers in Abortion Pill Case; Maternal Mortality Rises; Lobbying for Alzheimer Drugs

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Lawyers were questioned in a federal lawsuit intending to overturn approval of a drug used for medication abortion; during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, US maternal mortality increased for the third year in a row; the Alzheimer’s Association is lobbying Congress to push for Medicare coverage of new Alzheimer drugs under early access.

Judge Hears Arguments in Case Seeking Reversal of Abortion Pill Approval

In a lawsuit intending to overturn federal approval of a widely used abortion pill, federal judge Matthew H. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas questioned lawyers publicly for the first time Wednesday, reported The New York Times. The hearing consisted of a discussion questioning if the anti-abortion plaintiffs had the legal standing to sue the government and what type of ruling the judge had the power to issue. He indicated he would make a decision as soon as possible. Medication is the method used in more than 50% of abortions across the country and has become an increased focus of political and legal battles since the overturn of the national right to abortion in 2022.

United States Maternal Mortality Spiked in 2021

The death rate of Americans when they give birth or in the weeks afterward has increased by more than a third in 2021 compared with 2020, disproportionately affecting communities of color, according to a report released by US health officials, said The Washington Post. The report from the National Center for Health Statistics showed that it was the third year in a row that the country’s maternal mortality rate increased in a way that the report said was “significant” for all racial and ethnic groups. Research has shown that pregnant people infected with coronavirus have a 7 times higher risk of dying compared with non-infected pregnant people. The mortality rate was highest for Black women in 2021.

Alzheimer’s Association Lobbies for Medicaid Coverage of Alzheimer Drugs

The Alzheimer’s Association has arranged for 1000 people diagnosed with or caring for someone with Alzheimer disease to meet with all 535 members of Congress to put pressure on Medicare for early access to a new class of drugs, starting with lecanemab, that aim to slow disease progression, reported Reuters. The goal is that Medicare will provide “full and unrestricted coverage” to the drugs for people aged 65 and older when they reach the market under accelerated FDA approval instead of waiting for full commercial approval, which by then may be too late for some sufferers in the early stages of disease.

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