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John Oliver took a few minutes out of Last Week Tonight to discuss a U.S. district judge’s recent ruling related to mifepristone, the most commonly used method of abortion.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered a hold on federal approval of the drug in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. At the same time, U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama appointee, essentially ordered the opposite and directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability.
“Like every fight that you’ve had with your uncle since 2016, we’re gonna start with abortion — the thing that Republican men love to ban almost as much as they love to secretly pay for,” Oliver joked toward the beginning of his HBO talk show.
The Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone in 2000 — 23 years ago — after studying the drug for “triple the average amount of time” it typically takes to study drugs, according to a CBS Evening News report Oliver showed.
“Yeah, the judge in question, Matthew Kacsmaryk, argued that a drug that’s been on the market in the U.S. for 23 years is somehow too dangerous, which is wild given that it’s been widely available for a full Kiernan Shipka now,” Oliver said, referring to the 23-year-old Chilling Adventures of Sabrina actress.
He then showed a CNN report citing an analysis it did on FDA data showing that the risk of death from penicillin is five times greater than from mifepristone, and the risk of death from Viagra is 10 times greater.
“Once it’s clear that something is safer than both treating strep throat and giving an old guy a boulder, it is pretty hard to pull the public health card,” Oliver said.
Being a Trump appointee who’s been vocal about his anti-abortion stance, “we always knew where Kascmaryk would go on an abortion case, but the way he got there was still shockingly dishonest,” Oliver said, noting that his ruling cites a statistic that “77 percent of women who had a chemical abortion reported a negative change as a result.”
However, the sample for that study was based on 98 blog posts on an anti-abortion website, Abortion Change You.
“That is some heavy confirmation bias,” Oliver said. “…Using that as your source is like claiming that abortion makes you better at Frisbee golf by citing a poll on the website AbortionMakesYouBetterAtFrisbeeGolf.com.”
As an aside, Oliver noted that whenever he mentions a fake website on Last Week Tonight, the show has to buy the URL to ensure that nobody else buys it. So the show now owns the domain AbortionMakesYouBetterAtFrisbeeGolf.com. Visit the website, and you’ll be greeted with a white page with a logo and the message, “Why are you here?”
Oliver noted he had one more thought on the website Abortion Changes You: “Not to be crass here, but you know what else does that? A fucking pregnancy. Because I’ve got news for you: For weeks after giving birth, that baby is not the only one in diapers. Also there is a baby now.”
Oliver also went on to explain that mifepristone is used for treating miscarriages as well.
“So, like most anti-abortion measures, this ruling could also end up severely impacting those with medical complications from wanted pregnancies as well,” he said. “As this doctor points out, anyone having a miscarriage who can’t access a medication abortion may be subject to some intense suffering.”
He showed a WLS-TV interview with an OB/GYN, Dr. Mia Norlin, saying that without access to mifepristone, someone going through a miscarriage will require surgery or have to wait up to eight weeks for the pregnancy to pass. “And that’s brutal,” she said. “And that’s, I mean, torture for people who are going through a miscarriage.”
Replied Oliver: “Exactly. Can you imagine getting some of the worst news of your life and then having to carry it around painfully with you for eight weeks all because some Disney Channel vice principal from Texas decided to play doctor for the entire fucking country?”
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Kacsmaryk’s order, putting it on hold until midnight Wednesday.
“So there is a lot up in the air here,” Oliver said, “but it is not ideal that the dream team who overturned Roe v. Wade may soon decide whether to greenlight the sequel, because overturning Roe was clearly never about returning it to the states. It was always a step toward banning abortion entirely, and it’s frankly both absurd and infuriating that such vital health care can be thrown into chaos for everyone all because of the badly reasoned decisions of this fucking guy,” he said, referring to Kacsmaryk.
He continued: “It seems like abortion has become a Schrödinger’s right in this country that people simultaneously do and don’t have depending on where they live, who’s in the White House and what the shittiest judge in America feels like doing. That is why it is so important for it to be protected by law ideally in the Constitution and for it to be recognized for what it is: a basic right, a human necessity and something that I hear — and I got this from a completely reputable website — could actually make you better at Frisbee golf.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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