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The Supreme Court this week agreed to hear a case that could further restrict abortion — even in states where it remains legal. The case to determine the fate of the abortion pill mifepristone is the first major abortion case to come before the court since its overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022. It could also set a precedent for judges to second-guess scientific rulings by the FDA.

Meanwhile, legislation is finally moving in the House and Senate to renew a long list of health programs that technically expired at the end of the last fiscal year, on Sept. 30. But the bills to fund community health centers and build on programs to fight the opioid epidemic are unlikely to become law until January, at the soonest.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Riley Griffin of Bloomberg News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Lauren Weber of The Washington Post.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The Supreme Court will consider a case challenging access to mifepristone, opting to review FDA decisions in recent years governing the loosening some requirements for distribution and use of the so-called abortion pill — such as the agency’s call allowing pregnant people to obtain the drug without a doctor’s visit. While the drug’s overall approval is not in question in this case, the drug industry argues undermining the FDA’s authority could open the floodgates for challenges to other pharmaceuticals and have a chilling effect on drug development.
  • Legal experts say the Texas high court’s ruling blocking the abortion of a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal condition calls into question whether doctors are able to identify any medically necessary circumstance under existing legal exceptions. And, in other court news, the Supreme Court will let stand a Washington state law banning conversion therapy.
  • On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are bundling an assortment of bipartisan, generally unrelated health measures so they can be approved, possibly as part of a government spending package in January. But can this Congress — which has proved unproductive even by recent standards — finish its work in a presidential election year?
  • One piece of legislation under consideration would address the opioid epidemic, renewing grants for state efforts to prevent and treat opioid use disorder. The epidemic has taken a toll, but it is not the only problem contributing to a troubling drop in U.S. life expectancy.
  • And cyberattacks are on the upswing in health care, with new revelations about an attack that targeted the Department of Health and Human Services at the onset of the pandemic.

Also this week, Rovner interviews University of Maryland professor and social media superstar Jen Golbeck about her new book, “The Purest Bond,” which lays out the science of the human-canine relationship.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: The Washington Post’s “They Watched Their Husbands Win the Heisman — Then Lost Them to CTE,” by Kent Babb.

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politico’s “A Deadly Delivery Highlights ‘Falsified’ Heat Records at USPS,” by Ariel Wittenberg.

Lauren Weber: The Washington Post’s “Applesauce Lead Cases in Kids Surge Amid Questions on FDA Oversight,” by Amanda Morris, Teddy Amenabar, Laura Reiley, and Jenna Portnoy.

Riley Griffin: Bloomberg News’ “The Next Blockbuster Drug Might Be Made in Space,” by Robert Langreth.

Also mentioned in this week’s episode:


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