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.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .