Merck & Co. Photo Illustrations Medicine pill is seen with Merck logo displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Poland on October 4, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NurPhoto / Contributor
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Contributor via Getty Images

News

Thursday | October 7th, 2021

It’s Thursday, October 7th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Experts Discuss Drop In COVID-19 Cases

The Topline: A new medication from Merck — along with a growing body of data relating to natural immunity — has experts questioning the Biden administration’s position on universal vaccination. 

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins Hospital joined Morning Wire to discuss the latest drug breakthrough, and what he considers to be a more data-driven strategy for achieving herd immunity.

Morsa Images/Getty Images

Shift In Strategy

Dr. Makary said the new drug from Merck is “the biggest game changer in the history of COVID since the vaccines,” noting the drug is a pill taken over a five-day course. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is inexpensive. 

Makary also stressed the importance of recognizing natural immunity and the role it can play in protecting people against COVID-19. 

He also noted the decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to herd immunity.

Kevin Dietsch/Staff/Getty Images

2) Biden Administration Reverses Trump Abortion Policy 

The Topline: The Biden administration reversed a Trump-era policy that blocked federal funds from going to family planning clinics that refer women to get abortions.

Biden’s Reversal

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new rule which would “revoke the requirements of the 2019 regulations” which were put into place during President Trump’s time in office. This would primarily include “removing restrictions on nondirective options counseling and referrals for abortion services …”

The Trump rule didn’t allow certain federally-funded clinics to direct people towards an abortion or refer them to an abortion. The new rule, set to go into effect on November 8th, means abortion-referring clinics like Planned Parenthood can now access funds through Title X. 

Title X

The Title X family planning program is a federal grant program for clinics to receive funds from the federal government. It has an annual budget of around $286.5 million.

The majority of people “served by Title X providers are low-income, female, and under 30 years old.”

The Trump rule in 2019 affected organizations like Planned Parenthood. Rather than complying with the Trump requirements, Planned Parenthood’s affiliates and some other centers didn’t take the funding. They even challenged the rule in court but lost.

Response

Planned Parenthood’s president said it was “a huge victory for patients and a huge victory for sexual and reproductive health care,” but the organization was still not satisfied, saying “it’s disappointing the final rule will allow providers to refuse to counsel or refer patients for abortions due to their own personal beliefs.”

The Country: Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose using taxpayer funds for abortion.

 

Samuel Corum/Stringer/Getty Images

3) Senators Push Back Against DOJ Overreach 

The Topline: 

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) joined Morning Wire to discuss concerns about what she says is the “incredibly dangerous precedent” set by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Justice Department.

Quote Of The Day:

“… the Biden administration is saying, if you object to a government takeover of your child, if you don’t accept our progressive agenda, then we are going to put you on a list and you are not going to like being on this list.”

– Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Senator Blackburn

Garland has been criticized by Republicans for “weaponizing” the Justice Department and “intimidating” parents critical of school boards and teachers. 

Blackburn, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee — which oversees the Justice Department — told Morning Wire many parents are concerned about the curriculum in schools, including Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project.

She said she’s hearing that teachers unions are behind the push to target parents after becoming upset about their activism efforts.

Blackburn also said the Judiciary Committee is planning to respond to the recent developments with a letter.

Anna Moneymaker/Staff/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Debt Ceiling Update

Senate Democrats are considering a rule change that would end the filibuster and allow a simple majority vote to fund the government without any Republican support. On Tuesday, President Biden told reporters it was a “real possibility.” In the meantime, however, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems willing to offer Democrats a deal which would fund the government until December.

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