James Kopp, who was convicted under New York state law for the 1998 murder of an abortion provider in Buffalo, NY, started his federal trial yesterday on charges that he violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. According to the AP, Kopp is facing a third charge for using a weapon in a violent crime. He is also suspected in four nonfatal shootings of abortion providers in Rochester, New York and Canada.
The federal trial began with the testimony of Lynne Slepian, the widow of Kopp's victim, Dr. Barnett Slepian. She recounted to the court the evening of the shooting when Kopp murdered her husband by firing a high-powered military rifle into their kitchen. Following her testimony, Kopp, who is defending himself, quietly apologized to Ms. Slepian, saying "I just wanted to say I'm sorry. I respect you and your family," the Associated Press reports. He then announced he would not cross-examine Ms. Slepian.
According to the Guelph Mercury, a Canadian paper, Kopp tried to convince the court that he did not maliciously premeditate the murder of Dr. Slepian, despite having planned the shooting for a year; he claims that he was only trying to wound the doctor to prevent him from performing abortions. If convicted on the federal charges, he would likely receive life without parole, which would mean that the Slepian family would never have to endure a parole hearing, the Hamilton Spectator reports.
Anti-abortion extremists in the US have murdered seven abortion providers and have attempted murder 17 times, according to the National Abortion Federation. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation's National Clinic Violence Survey, 18.4 percent of all abortion providers experience "severe violence" at least once during the year.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .