WeeklyTech #161

Explainer: The FDA expands abortion pill access in local pharmacies

On Jan. 3, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulatory change that allows pharmacy chains and local pharmacies to distribute the first of the two-stage abortion pill regiment known as Mifepristone.

Why does this matter?
This change will have devastating and widespread effects on preborn children, their mothers, our communities, and likely many pharmacists in abortion-friendly states.

First, there are the obvious and deep concerns about ending the lives of the preborn and grave dangers to women’s health with these medications. Expanded access will mean even more of these life-threatening pills will be available in our communities. While the FDA notes that it does not recommend purchasing mifepristone outside of the Mifepristone REMS Program, the loosening of these rules will inevitably lead to a growing supply and greater demand for the product, especially in states with regulations and bans on the medication.

Alongside issues of human dignity and abortion itself lie increased religious liberty concerns for those employed by pharmacies, especially large retail chains, who may be forced to distribute abortion medications against their conscience as part of their jobs. While some chains provide religious accommodations, it is unknown how many pharmacies in states that allow these medications will seek to protect the conscience rights of individuals who object on religious grounds, particularly in light of the growing push for abortion access today.

The Rundown

States’ long-awaited data privacy laws are going into effect by Sam Sabin | Axios

Starting this week, companies operating in Virginia and California are subject to a new set of data protection laws. After federal lawmakers failed (again) to pass a privacy law last year, companies face what they’ve always feared and lobbied against: a patchwork of state-level laws that dictate how they collect, store and share consumer data.

Stories to Watch in 2023 | ERLC

The events of 2022 had an effect on many issues that we will be dealing with in this new year. Four stories related to ERLC concerns that you should watch in 2023 are:

  1. Abortion after Roe v. Wade
  2. Legislation in a divided government
  3. A religious liberty Supreme Court case
  4. The SBC’s formal response to sexual abuse

George Santos’ moment of truth by Samuel D. James | WORLD

Santos is facing allegations of fabricating large parts of his experience and backstory. He has admitted to “embellishing” the truth. Whether he is guilty of something more remains to be seen. But his admission reminded me of Stephen Glass, the real-life New Republic writer whose rise and downfall—which nearly destroyed his employer—is depicted in the 2003 movie.

Seattle schools sue tech giants over youth mental health crisis by Erin Doherty | Axios

Seattle Public Schools is suing social media companies including TikTok and Meta, saying the tech giants’ “misconduct has been a substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis.”

The ascendance of AI by Jordan J. Ballor | WORLD

It’s the time of year when professors are grading papers and looking forward to a holiday break. But many students with take-home exams will face a perennial temptation in a new form. The advent of artificial intelligence technology with the ability to create coherent prose text is now available to the public, and the latest iteration to make headlines is called ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, “an AI research and deployment company” with the mission “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.”