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Biden administration signals fight over medication abortion

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Abortion rights protesters demonstrate after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v Women’s Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 24, 2022. REUTERS/

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By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration indicated it will seek to prevent states from banning a pill used for medication abortion in light of the Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, signaling a major new legal fight.

The administration could argue in court that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, one of the pills used for medication abortions, pre-empts state restrictions, meaning federal authority outweighs any state action.

That same argument has already been raised by Las Vegas-based GenBioPro Inc, which sells a generic version of the pill, in a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restrictions on medication abortion.

More than a dozen states plan to almost totally ban abortion with the Roe v. Wade precedent upended. In a stunning ruling, the conservative majority Supreme Court overturned Roe on a 5-4 vote on Friday, saying there is no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution.

States will likely face other difficulties enforcing restrictions on medication abortion because women are still likely to be able to obtain the pills online or in other states.

Biden said in remarks after the Supreme Court ruling that the government would seek to protect access to medication abortion, saying efforts to restrict it would be “wrong and extreme and out of touch with the majority of Americans.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland was more explicit about what Justice Department is eyeing, saying in a statement: “States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.”

Mifepristone was approved for use in abortions by the FDA in 2000, long after Roe was decided in 1973. The pill, also known as RU 486, blocks the pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone while the other drug used, misoprostol, induces uterine contractions.

Greer Donley, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who is an expert on reproductive rights, said the administration’s stance “shows that they understand the stakes and are willing to pursue novel ideas.”  

Even before Roe was overturned, states imposed restrictions on access to the pill. There are 19 states that require women to make an in-person visit to obtain the drug, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to an abortion.

The FDA does not require an in-person meeting.

Legal experts say the law on preemption is murky because Congress has never said explicitly that FDA approval trumps state law as it has done in the context of medical devices. Therefore it would be left to courts to decide the question under a theory known as “implied preemption.”

Wide availability of medication abortion in states that want to restrict or ban the procedure would be a major setback to anti-abortion campaigners who have long sought to ban abortion outright.

Attempts to challenge state restrictions could run aground at the Supreme Court, not only because the 6-3 conservative majority has shown its opposition to abortion rights but also because the justices are often skeptical about federal preemption claims.

With Roe overturned, states would also have more leeway to argue they have a separate interest in preventing abortions based on moral objections to abortion.

Sports & General

‘Stacks of bodies’: 46 dead migrants found in truck in Texas

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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By Kaylee Greenlee Beal, Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) -The bodies of 46 dead migrants were discovered inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, city officials said, in one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A San Antonio Fire Department official said they found “stacks of bodies” and no signs of water in the truck, which was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.

Sixteen other people found inside the trailer were transported to hospitals for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors, but no children were among the dead, the department said.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, exhaustion,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told a news conference. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working A/C unit on that rig.”

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

The city’s Police Chief William McManus said a person who works in a nearby building heard a cry for help and came out to investigate. The worker found the trailer doors partially opened and looked inside and found a number of dead bodies.

McManus said this was the largest incident of its kind in the city and said three people were in custody following the incident, though their involvement is not yet clear.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE (NYSE:ICE)) said that its Homeland Security Investigations division was investigating “an alleged human smuggling event” in coordination with local police.

RECORD CROSSINGS

The deaths once again highlight the challenge of controlling migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, which have reached record highs.

The issue has proven difficult for U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who came into office in January 2021 pledging to reverse some of the hardline immigration policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. Republicans have criticized Biden’s border strategy ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said consular officials would go to the hospitals where victims had been taken to help “however possible.”

A spokesman for the Honduran foreign ministry told Reuters the country’s consulates in Houston and Dallas would be investigating the incident. Ebrard said two Guatemalans were hospitalized and Guatemala’s foreign ministry said on Twitter that consular officials were going to the hospital “to verify if there are two Guatemalan minors there and what condition they are in.”

The I-35 highway near where the truck was found runs through San Antonio from the Mexican border and is a popular smuggling corridor because of the large volume of truck traffic, according to Jack Staton, a former senior official with ICE’s investigative unit who retired in December.

In July 2017, 10 migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

Staton said migrants have regularly been intercepted in the area since the 2017 incident. “It was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this was going to happen again,” he said.

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Sports & General

More than 40 migrants die in truck in San Antonio, others hospitalized

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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By Kaylee Greenlee Beal and Ted Hesson

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) -Authorities found 46 migrants dead inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, the city’s fire department said, in what appears to be one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The San Antonio Fire Department said 16 other people found inside the trailer were transported to the hospital for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors. Officials also said three people were in custody following the incident.

The truck was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed.

There have been a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, which has sparked criticisms of the immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

In July 2017, ten migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

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Sports & General

Dozens of migrants found dead in truck in San Antonio

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© Reuters. Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal

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By Kaylee Greenlee Beal and Ted Hesson

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – At least 42 migrants were found dead inside a tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, the state’s Governor Greg Abbott said, in what appears to be one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed. A U.S. law enforcement official said there were more than 40 people dead without providing additional details.

The truck was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts, San Antonio’s KSAT television reported.

There have been a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, which has sparked criticisms of the immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Abbott placed the blame for the deaths on Biden’s policies on Twitter, saying they “show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

The San Antonio police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.

In July 2017, ten migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) parking lot. The driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

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