A CNN anchor didn’t let an anti-abortion activist get away with spouting nonsense about mifepristone on Tuesday, noting that in fact they’re actually safer than penicillin and Viagra. “It is a very safe drug,” Abby Phillip told her viewers in an on-the-spot fact check of conservative commentator Alice Stewart. “It’s more safe than penicillin. It’s more safe than even Viagra, which is so widely used.”
Last week, federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued a ruling to revoke the Food and Drug Administration’s approval more than 20 years ago of mifepristone, the first of two type of pills most commonly used for medication abortion in America. Stewart had tried to defend the anti-abortion activists bringing the case in an interview with Phillip, saying they’re “concerned with the safety of women.”
“Look, I think Republican pro-life leaders are going to really fight this battle because they look at this and the numbers that the pro-life advocates are looking at have to do with the dangers of these medical abortion pills,” Stewart said. “But pro-life advocates are looking at this the way the FDA did these tests; they didn’t feel as though it was full and complete and done in the typical way the FDA does this.”
Phillip then (kindly!) stepped in and cut the activist off. “So Alice, I mean, I have to stop you there because, I mean, we do have the data on this,” Phillip said. “It is a very safe drug.”
Phillip also noted that risk of death from penicillin is four times greater than mifepristone.
“It’s notable, I mean, the judge is citing psychological damage to two women, but not, you know, taking into consideration that there was a 20-plus-year process in which this drug was deemed safe,” the CNN anchor said. “Why even does the judge have the right to decide what drugs are safe and what’s not?”
Kacsmaryk’s ruling—even with a seven-day delay—is spooking Republicans. One Texas representative sent on to the Sunday talk show circuit just wanted to change the subject. Another anti-abortion representative on Monday said the FDA should ignore the ruling. On CNN, Stewart eventually capitulated that the courts should not be involved in abortion “This is one of the many issues I think are best left up to elected officials at the state level, and it should not be adjudicated in the court,” she said.
What Stewart is missing is that at the state level, abortion access is massively popular. It doesn’t matter if it’s a confusingly worded ballot measure, like in Kansas, or a straightforward constitutional protection like in California—voters choose over and over again to protect abortion access. State lawmakers may keep trying to vote to restrict abortion, but their actual constituents unequivocally support bodily autonomy.