Editorial Excerpts, June 2023

Published: June 12, 2023

The Supreme Court said late Friday that the abortion pill mifepristone—a drug millions of women have used to terminate early pregnancies—would remain widely available, at least for now.

The news is more cause for relief than celebration, and certainly not cause for complacency. True, a court with a conservative supermajority that overturned Roe v. Wade last year issued a stay on lower court rulings that would have upset the status quo, allowing abortion providers to continue distributing a safe drug. But the legal challenges to mifepristone will carry on as lower courts continue wrangling over the challenge to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, and the case could appear before the Supreme Court again before long. The fate of reproductive rights in the United States remains in the balance—and even more. Depending on how the courts handle the case, access to all kinds of treatments could be in jeopardy.

The Biden administration was right to call the lower court’s decision an unprecedented attack not only on women’s health care but also on the authority and expertise of the FDA, whose approval of mifepristone relied on data from numerous clinical trials. In recent years, the conservative legal movement has targeted multiple facets of the administrative state, and the attack on the FDA is no exception: If the Supreme Court agreed with Judge Kacsmaryk, the FDA’s regulatory authority over other drugs would be called into question.

Though the justices have avoided this mistake, for the moment, Friday’s decision nevertheless underscores how crucial, and vulnerable, access to reproductive care remains.

The Washington Post, April 22, 2023

… Rapid population growth makes eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition, and widening the coverage of health and education systems daunting challenges. Little wonder then that India’s performance on each of these crucial parameters leaves a lot to be desired. Worse, the burden is, in reality, double: populous India is also having to contend with the specter of climate change. Resources like food and water—820 million Indians are estimated to be water-stressed at present—that are already strained on account of extreme weather events will be made scarcer by the teeming numbers. Additionally, climate change is set to displace more people and leave greater areas arid and [un]inhabitable.

The silver lining is that India’s population surge is stabilizing, with its total fertility rate … falling to 2.0, which is below the replacement level. India’s policies of deepening public access to health care systems and enhancing family planning services are delivering: these need to be invested in and broadened. Mischievous political narratives blaming Muslims for India’s population burden must also be resisted as they fly in the face of facts … Other constituencies are forced to bear similar disproportionate shares of the blame. The poor are the favorite punching bag of policy and public discourse, deflecting attention from the government’s inability to eradicate poverty. Women, too, are blamed, even though female sterilization constitutes 75 percent of modern contraceptive methods used in India; the corresponding figure for men is a little over 12 percent. This only goes to show that the battle against population is layered and ought to be fought in tandem with institutional efforts to reduce poverty and heighten the agency of women.

The Telegraph (India), April 23, 2023