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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service

News briefs

White House touts abortion pill as answer to Roe reversal but FDA rules limit use

The Biden administration says it’s taking steps to increase access to medication abortion in response to the Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, but some of the administration’s own policies stand in the way of people trying to get the drug.

Mifepristone, the drug known as the abortion pill, has been approved in the U.S. for more than 20 years and has been shown to be safer than commonly used drugs like Tylenol. But federal regulations strictly limit the circumstances under which patients can get it.

While the administration last year loosened some rules on prescribers, it added new hurdles for pharmacies to dispense abortion pills. Several states have regulations on top of that, limiting who can prescribe it or requiring people to attend in-person doctor’s appointments to get the pill.

The White House quickly pointed to the abortion pill as an answer to the post-Roe world in which some 33 million women could lose access to procedures in their home states. President Joe Biden ordered his health officials “to identify all ways to ensure that mifepristone is as widely accessible as possible,” according to a White House statement.

—Bloomberg News

Patient given pig heart transplant died of heart failure, study finds

BALTIMORE — Doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have concluded that a man who received a first-of-its-kind pig-heart transplant in January died two months later from heart failure. Though the reason for the failure remains under investigation.

The man, David Bennett, was able to get out of bed, begin rehabilitation and spend time with his family in the weeks after the transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center. His doctors say that makes the effort a success.

All the subsequent information gathered will be applied when they are ready for the next so-called xenotransplant patient. That includes clues about how to prevent issues that may have contributed to the heart failure, including a reaction to a drug aimed at preventing rejection.

“We are still trying to figure out what went wrong; we don’t have a single answer,” said Dr. Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, co-leader of the pig heart study and professor of surgery and scientific/program director of the cardiac xenotransplantation program in the medical school.

—The Baltimore Sun

TikTok is sued over deaths of two young girls in viral ‘blackout challenge’

LOS ANGELES — Eight-year-old Lalani Erika Walton wanted to become “TikTok famous.” Instead, she wound up dead.

Hers is one of two such tragedies that prompted a linked pair of wrongful death lawsuits filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the social media giant. The company’s app fed Lalani and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, videos associated with a viral trend called the blackout challenge in which participants attempt to choke themselves into unconsciousness, the cases allege; both of the young girls died after trying to join in.

It’s an indication that TikTok — the wildly popular, algorithmically curated video app that has its U.S. headquarters in Culver City in the Los Angeles area — is a defective product, says the Social Media Victims Law Center, the law firm behind the suits and a self-described “legal resource for parents of children harmed by social media.”

TikTok pushed Lalani and Arriani videos of the dangerous trend, is engineered to be addictive and didn’t offer the girls or their parents adequate safety features, the Law Center says, all in the name of maximizing ad revenue. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

—Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court rules 'Remain in Mexico' can end. Now asylum seekers wait in Tijuana to see if it really will

TIJUANA, Mexico — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Biden administration can end the "Remain in Mexico" program, but life does not appear likely to change much for asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana for their U.S. immigration court cases — at least for the near future.

The ruling led to celebrations from many advocates who have long pushed to end the controversial program officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. But it's not yet clear what the decision will mean for those enrolled in the program.

"The laws of the United States keep changing," said Adán, a Nicaraguan asylum seeker, speaking in Spanish. "We don't know if they'll get us out of here. This news, more than anything, generates more uncertainty."

He asked not to be fully identified because he has not yet found protection from his government, which is known for persecuting people who oppose its president-turned-dictator Daniel Ortega.

—The San Diego Union-Tribune

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