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A Completely Bogus Study Is at the Heart of the Ruling to Ban the Abortion Pill

The far-right Texas judge who cited the study in his ruling apparently didn’t care about where it came from.

A person looks at an Abortion Pill (RU-486) for unintended pregnancy from Mifepristone displayed on a computer.

The bombshell ruling that could take abortion pills off the national market was based in part on a “study” of anonymous posts on an anti-abortion website.

Texas federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled Friday that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved and should be yanked from the U.S. market. Another judge has already filed a dueling injunction to keep the drug available.*

The lawsuit was filed in November by a coalition of anti-abortion groups and individuals, who specifically chose Kacsmaryk for his history of anti-abortion decisions, arguing that the Food and Drug Administration had improperly approved mifepristone for widespread use more than 20 years ago. More than 100 scientific studies show that mifepristone is safe.

In his ruling, Kacsmaryk cites a study that posits “fourteen percent of women and girls reported having received insufficient information” about the side effects of having an abortion. The study also says that “eighty-three percent of women report that chemical abortion ‘changed’ them—and seventy-seven percent of those women reported a negative change.”

That study analyzed anonymous posts on an anti-abortion website called “Abortion Changes You,” which runs a blog with stories from people who regret having abortions. The sample size is 98 blog posts, but the study authors only analyzed 54 posts and then just cherry-picked quotes from the rest.

“Perhaps this sample might not be reflective of the entire universe of women who have abortions?” suggested legal expert Adam Unikowsky, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his Substack “Adam’s Legal Newsletter.”

“This is roughly like reporting a statistic that ‘83% of people are fans of Judge Kacsmaryk’ without mentioning that the entire sample consisted of posters on”

What’s even more dangerous is the fact that both the website and the Institute of Reproductive Grief Care, the organization that runs the site, couch themselves in reasonable-sounding language. Founder Michaelene Fredenburg talks repeatedly about the need for a better support system for the men and women grieving pregnancy loss.

This is true. An abortion is a deeply personal choice, and it does not come without an emotional toll. There still seems to be a social taboo about discussing abortions and miscarriages, and people who experience them are often left without a network to support them.

But it should still be a choice. And one man has used a biased study to try to take that away.

* This story was updated to clarify the dueling injunction.

5 Dead, 8 Wounded After Mass Shooting in Louisville, Kentucky

This comes as the nation is still reeling from another mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Luke Sharrett/Getty Images
Crime scene tape cordons off a street as law enforcement officers respond to an active shooter near the Old National Bank building in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 10.

A shooting at a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, has left at least five people dead and eight wounded.

Calls of shots fired at Old National Bank were reported at around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. At 10:16 a.m., the Louisville Metro Police Department said there was no longer a threat and that the shooter was “neutralized.”

Police have said that five people have died and another six are injured and have been taken to the hospital; among the injured are reportedly two LMPD officers. The death toll of five people includes the shooter.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has said he is on his way to Louisville.

The shooting comes weeks after a school shooting in nearby Nashville, Tennessee, left three children and three adults dead, prompting massive protests at the state Capitol and nationwide. Two Tennessee Democrats, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were expelled from the state House after interrupting House proceedings in solidarity with the protesters.

This post has been updated.

Why Elon Musk Is Nuking Substack on Twitter

Even his journo-buddies are up in arms.

Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Free-speech warrior Elon Musk is suppressing Substack’s own Twitter account, as well as any links to the newsletter company’s website, including newsletters and posts from prominent independent writers such as Judd Legum, Erin Reed, and even Matt Taibbi, one of a select few journalists to whom Musk gave the so-called Twitter Files.

The move appears to be in retaliation for a new feature Substack announced on Wednesday called Notes, which would let users share posts, comments, images, and links in a timeline-style feed—similar to how Twitter functions. The following day, Twitter began blocking Substack writers from being able to embed tweets in their newsletters. Then, on Friday, Twitter began fully blocking users from being able to distribute links to their Substack pages at all.

Twitter users are still able to post links to Substack newsletters, but other users are unable to like, retweet, or reply to those posts, severely limiting the reach of such posts. Moreover, as of this story’s writing, users are unable to like, retweet, or reply to any posts from Substack’s main Twitter account—whether they include a Substack link or not. The account itself appears to still have the ability to tweet, however.

Substack’s founders have said they are “disappointed that Twitter has chosen to restrict writers’ ability to share their work,” adding that writers “deserve the freedom to share links to Substack or anywhere else.”

Musk’s move comes after Twitter welcomed its “2.0” era by releasing much of its source code related to recommendation algorithms, including ones that drive the pitiful “For You” timeline. The code revealed that Twitter had broken down authors into four categories: Elon Musk, “Power User,” Democrat, and Republican; Musk’s posts in particular were being pushed onto Twitter users.

Concurrent to the source code release, Twitter was set to begin phasing out existing verified accounts and welcoming users to obtain blue checks only by paying for them. The plan was set to roll out on April 1 but has yet to come to fruition.

Musk’s attack on Substack is part of pattern, since he bought Twitter in October, to suppress content on an essentially ad hoc basis—from enabling the Indian government to silence dissent to reinstating white nationalists and haphazardly banning journalists.

At the same time, Musk handed over internal company documents to Taibbi and others for a controversial and misleading series of tweet-threads and newsletters about how Twitter was run prior to Musk’s reign. On Friday, Taibbi asked Musk about the apparent attack on Substack and said he did not hear back.

Hours later, Taibbi said he heard from Twitter—likely Musk himself—that Twitter is indeed responding to Substack’s new feature, which it views as a “hostile rival.” Taibbi asked his mysterious source at Twitter how he was supposed to market his work and was given the option to just post his articles on Twitter instead of Substack. In response, Taibbi announced he’s “obviously staying at Substack” and “will be moving to Substack Notes next week.”

Teachers Can’t Misgender Trans Students for Religious Reasons, Appeals Court Says

The ruling has major implications for classrooms around the country.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a public high school teacher in Indiana did not have the right to ignore transgender students’ names and pronouns just because of his religious beliefs.

John Kluge worked as a music teacher at the Brownsburg Community School Corporation for four years. In 2017, he refused to abide by the school’s new policy to use trans students’ chosen names and pronouns, claiming it violated his Christian beliefs. He was initially granted an accommodation to refer to all students by their last names, which distressed both trans and cisgender students because they figured out his reasons. The school withdrew the accommodation, and he resigned at the end of the school year in 2018.

Kluge sued the school that same year for religious discrimination and retaliation. Brownsburg argued in response that he had caused it “undue hardship” by his refusal to use students’ chosen names and pronouns, which made some students feel “targeted and uncomfortable” and ultimately hindered their ability to learn. The school also said Kluge’s stance opened it up to gender discrimination lawsuits.

A district court ruled in Brownsburg’s favor in July 2021, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision Friday. “Brownsburg was within its rights … to withdraw the requested accommodation when it became apparent that it was not working in practice and was causing harm to students,” the court said in the ruling.

What’s more, the ruling said, Kluge’s retaliation claim “fails as a matter of law because he failed to produce any evidence supporting” his case.

The ruling is an important win for trans rights, which are under attack across the country. Twenty states, such as Florida, Texas, and Montana, have banned trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams. Most recently, on Wednesday, Kansas’s Republican-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill banning trans girls from playing girls’ sports.

But it’s not all bad news: On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that a 12-year-old trans girl in West Virginia must be allowed to compete on her school’s girls’ cross-country and track teams.

West Virginia implemented a law banning trans girls from girls’ teams in 2021, but that law is being challenged in court. The Supreme Court said that the law cannot be enforced until the case is decided.

People Are Dunking on Clarence Thomas After His B.S. Excuse for Not Disclosing His Billionaire-Funded Vacations

But they’re “close personal friends”!

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas thinks he doesn’t have to disclose his vacations funded by a billionaire Republican megadonor because the two of them are “close personal friends.”

The justice has spent decades secretly enjoying opulent getaways courtesy of Harlan Crow—and he disclosed none of them, in violation of a decades-old federal law, ProPublica revealed in a bombshell report Thursday.

But Thomas insisted in a weak statement Friday that he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. “Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” he said.

People were not having it.

“What a joke this person is supposed to sit in judgment of anyone else’s adherence to laws,” reporter Laura Rozen tweeted. “Could pick someone out of the phone book at random with more credibility.”

Lawyer Joyce Vance pointed out that “personal hospitality is a nice dinner or maybe a weekend visit at a close friend’s lake house. It’s not persistent travel where you rub shoulders with conservative folks with litigation interests before SCOTUS on an at-least-annual basis.”

Some people were shocked that Thomas’s main defense was essentially, “Oops!”

Thomas and his wife, Ginni, have come under increased scrutiny for their fuzzy ethics. Ginni Thomas was closely involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In January 2022, her husband was the only justice to vote against the release of communications that ultimately revealed her involvement.

Part of the problem is that the Supreme Court is largely self-policing, and some of them are doing a very bad job of it.

Read more about Thomas’s wrongdoing here.

Even Marjorie Taylor Greene Hates the Anti-Muslim Crank Whom Trump Wants to Hire

Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Getty Images

Just days after being arrested on criminal fraud charges and attacking the family of the Manhattan judge hearing his case, former President Donald Trump reportedly is now looking to hire far-right Islamophobe Laura Loomer.

The New York Times reports that Trump recently met with Loomer, a two-time loser for the U.S. House of Representatives, and told advisers to bring her onto his 2024 campaign. Loomer on Tuesday attended Trump’s post-arraignment speech at Mar-a-Lago.

“Out of respect for President Trump, I’m not going to comment on private conversations that I had with the president,” Loomer told the Times. “The president knows I have always been a Trump loyalist,” she continued, “and that I’m committed to helping him win re-election in 2024. He likes me very much.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who endorsed Loomer’s failed 2022 bid in Florida’s 11th congressional district, now has a different opinion of her:

Loomer, a self-proclaimed “#proudislamaphobe,” has described Islam as a “cancer” and has celebrated the deaths of Muslim refugees, hoping for “more.”

In 2018, Loomer was banned from Twitter after tweeting that Representative Ilhan Omar was “anti Jewish,” “pro-Sharia,” and part of a religion in which “homosexuals are oppressed” and “women are abused” and “forced to wear the hijab.” After Loomer’s banning, she handcuffed herself to the doors of Twitter in protest, but perhaps not in a very efficacious manner:

Loomer later called Omar a “bitch” and “despicable human being” and said, “Muslims should not be allowed to seek positions of political office in this country.” After Elon Musk bought Twitter, she was allowed back on the platform.

Loomer was also banned from using Uber and Lyft after she made anti-Muslim remarks: “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”

On a podcast called Nationalist Public Radio, Loomer explained why she is “pro–white nationalism,” saying that “immigration” and “diversity” are “starting to destroy this country.”

Fear not, Loomer’s actions are as loud as her words. In 2017, Loomer was arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing after disrupting a Shakespeare in the Park presentation of Julius Caesar in New York City. In 2019, she was arrested again after jumping over the wall of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s mansion while wearing a serape and sombrero.

The far-right malefactor has also said she doesn’t care about the mass murder of 51 people in the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting and has spread conspiracy theories surrounding other shootings, including that those in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, were staged and that the shooter in the 2017 Las Vegas shootings was connected to ISIS.

Loomer herself told the Times that she is not “some kind of fringe person,” by virtue of having been supported by Trump in her previous failed congressional bids and because she worked for Project Veritas.

Perhaps Trump is all the more eager to hire her because she has accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, who previously had breast cancer, of playing the “cancer survivor” card to avoid criticism.

The Two Black Democrats Expelled by Tennessee’s Republican Legislature Could Be Back in No Time

Justin Jones and Justin Pearson both have clear paths to quickly retake their seats.

Justin Jones and Justin Pearson
Laura Thompson/Shutterstock
Justin Jones (left) and Justin Pearson after their expulsion

Not a full day has passed since the Republican-led Tennessee House’s shameless expulsion of Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, and already it looks like the Democratic representatives have a path to regaining their seats.

Jones, Pearson, and their colleague Gloria Johnson were targeted by Republicans for disrupting House proceedings last week in solidarity with the thousands of children, teachers, and parents protesting against gun violence outside the Capitol. The protests erupted after a Nashville school shooting left three children and three adults dead.

The House charged the trio with breaking “decorum” and voted Thursday to expel Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black and represent Nashville and Memphis, respectively. Johnson, who is white, survived expulsion by just one vote.

But now, at least 24 of 40 members of Nashville’s Metro Council have expressed their plan to reappoint Jones to the state House; only a simple majority is needed to do so. A special council was scheduled for Monday. Typically, electing an interim representative would take at least four weeks, but members of the council are looking to suspend the rules and hold a vote to nominate Jones. If events unfold accordingly, Jones could be back in the House before the sun sets on Monday.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, echoed the calls.

Meanwhile, in Shelby County, home to Memphis, the County Commission is considering reappointing Pearson to his seat. Chairman Mickell Lowery had said last week that if Pearson were expelled, he would call a special meeting to vote on an interim representative and inquire whether Pearson could be legally reappointed. The county’s assistant attorney told The Commercial Appeal that she saw no reason why he couldn’t. The 13-person commission has a nine-member Democratic supermajority, and one Democrat, Britney Thornton, has already said she supports the move.

“As a fellow millennial elected to serve, I believe it’s crucial for my generation to be represented,” Thornton told The Commercial Appeal. “I stand with Representative Pearson and his fellow colleagues—all of whom are unfairly being mislabeled and othered. Wholeheartedly will I support his reappointment.”

California Is Not “Done” With Walgreens After All

Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to stop doing business with the pharmacy chain has crashed into a legal wall.

California Governor Gavin Newsom
Mario Tama/Getty Images
California Governor Gavin Newsom

As it turns out, California cannot cut ties with pharmacy chain Walgreens.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced last month that his state would cease to do business with Walgreens because the pharmacy chain decided not to dispense abortion pills in nearly half of U.S. states following pressure from Republican attorneys general. Medication abortions make up more than half of all abortions in the United States and are considered a crucial tool in maintaining access to the procedure since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

But California legally has to maintain ties with Walgreens because of the state’s Medicaid program, Kaiser Health News reported Thursday, citing health law experts.

Medi-Cal provides health coverage for about 15 million people. Federal law states that patients can get their Medicaid-covered prescriptions at any approved pharmacy. Had California abruptly stopped covering Medi-Cal prescriptions filled at Walgreens locations, it would have broken federal law. This also would also have contradicted a key part of Newsom’s platform: to expand Medi-Cal as much as possible.

The Newsom administration said it will “continue to comply” with federal law by keeping its partnership with Walgreens. Gubernatorial spokesperson Anthony York said Newsom will not “take any action that hurts people who need access to care.”

Walgreens had said in January that it would offer mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion. The Food and Drug Administration changed its rules to allow pharmacies in states that still allow abortion to dispense the drug. Pharmacies would need to get certified to do so because the FDA currently classifies mifepristone as a high-risk drug, despite the fact that there is no data backing that decision up.

Walgreens and CVS, two of the biggest U.S. pharmacy chains, said they would seek certification. But in March, following intense pressure from Republican attorneys general in 20 states, Walgreens announced it wouldn’t dispense mifepristone in those states—and threw Kansas in there for good measure, too.

The chain has said it will dispense mifepristone “in any jurisdiction where it is legally permissible to do so.” Abortion is still legal in more than half of the states where Walgreens will no longer offer the drug, but the company said in a statement to TNR that some of those states don’t allow pharmacists to dispense mifepristone. “Failure to follow these state laws could result in individual pharmacists facing very real and serious legal risk, including criminal charges that could lead to jail time, steep fines and the loss of their license by state boards of pharmacy,” the company said.

In February, Newsom slammed Walgreens for its decision and said the chain “cowers to extremists and puts women’s lives at risk.” He said California was “done” with Walgreens but did not clarify what he meant. It now appears that was never an option.

This article has been updated to clarify Walgreens’ position.

North Dakota Senate Votes to Increase Its Own Meal Budget After Rejecting Free School Lunch Bill

Meanwhile, state Republicans are busy banning pretty much everything except hypocrisy.

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

Just over a week ago, North Dakota lawmakers voted to prevent giving free school lunches to low-income students. Then, on Thursday, they voted to increase the amount of money they get to spend on their own lunch.

On March 27, the Senate narrowly rejected a bill, which had passed the House, guaranteeing free school lunches to K-12 students in families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 26–21 to pass a bill to raise per diem meal reimbursements for state employees traveling within the state, from $35 to $45.

Republican Assistant Majority Leader Jerry Klein told local outlet InForum that state employees should be getting a higher sum because inflation costs have made meals more expensive. Klein voted against giving students, whose parents are also being squeezed by inflation, free school lunch.

“I thought today’s vote was very self-serving,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan told InForum. “How can we vote for ourselves when we can’t vote for children?”

The effort to give low-income students free school lunches for the next two years would have cost just some $6 million, a relatively small price to pay to ensure children don’t go hungry. While the Senate failed to pass the bill, the House is not giving up quite yet, reattaching the provision to a broader school funding bill.

Bills that target marginalized people, meanwhile, have been sailing through the North Dakota legislature. On Monday, the Senate passed bans on providing gender-affirming care to people under 18 and on transgender women’s participation in female sports in grade school and college.

The Senate also revived a push to prevent teachers and government employees from recognizing transgender students using their preferred pronouns—a bill that Republican Governor Doug Burgum had vetoed last month. While the House fell short of overriding his veto, Senate lawmakers put the language back into a separate bill that aims to restrict transgender students’ access to restrooms. Last month, Republican state Representative Lori VanWinkle likened respecting students’ preferred pronouns to murder.

Another Solid Jobs Report Quiets the Doomsayers

There was even some good news on Black unemployment.

John Smith/VIEWpress

The U.S. labor force held relatively steady in March, with unemployment sticking near a 50-year low, according to a report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Non-farm employers added 236,000 jobs in March, a slower pace than in recent months but almost precisely as expected, while the unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent. The unemployment rate in February 2020—just before the pandemic kicked off in earnest in the United States—was also 3.5 percent. Unemployment for Black people fell to 5 percent, a record low.

The labor force participation rate, or the number of people in the labor force, was mostly unchanged, ticking up one-tenth of a percent to 62.6 percent. The leisure and hospitality sectors, which were some of the hardest-hit at the peak of the pandemic, added the most jobs in March as businesses begin to recover.

Crucially, hourly earnings also held fairly steady, with average wages increasing 0.3 percent in March, up just a little from an average of 0.2 percent in February. This is the lowest increase since the fourth quarter of 2019.

Harvard economics professor Jason Furman warned that “average hourly earnings are poorly measured and volatile,” but if the rate holds, it could be a sign that inflation is on its way out. Slower wage gains help keep businesses’ operating costs down, which means employers will be less likely to keep consumer prices high to offset in-house expenses.

Both the employment gains and the potential decrease in inflation are huge wins for President Joe Biden, who has been under fire since he took office for sky-high inflation and unemployment, due to first Covid-19 and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

People have been jumpy about the economy lately, particularly after a string of high-profile bank failures, including Silicon Valley Bank’s. Economists have been warning that a recession is on the horizon—some even claim that “a recession is underway now”—and the Federal Reserve has kept up its relentless campaign of interest rate hikes, although it has decreased by how much.

But Friday’s jobs report is a good sign that a soft landing, when inflation is brought down without tipping the economy into a recession, could still be possible.