Buffalo Judge Refuses To Reconsider Plea Deal For Anti-Abortion Extremist Couple
A Buffalo judge once again rejected a plea deal for two anti-abortion extremists accused of helping James Kopp flee a murder charge for the sniper-style killing of Dr Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider.
Assistant US Attorney Kathleen Mehitretter told US District Court Judge Richard Arcara that the upcoming trial for Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra, now scheduled to begin Sept. 24, could harm her case against Kopp. Mehitretter said that she believes that the identities of witnesses who could testify against Kopp will be revealed at the couple’s trial and that they may be "intimidated merely by the premature revelation of their names," according to the Buffalo News. Arcara refused to reconsider stating: "I do not think it was in the public interest…Nothing has changed."
Marra and Malvasi, a Brooklyn couple with a history of anti-abortion extremism, are accused of helping Kopp with money, shelter, and support while he eluded law enforcement for over two years. The two were arrested in New York shortly after Kopp was detained in Dinan, France, in March 2001 and charged with four felony counts each that carried a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Last month, Arcara rejected a deal that would have given the couple a sentence of 27 to 33 months and exemption from testifying against Kopp in exchange for a guilty plea on a single count of harboring a fugitive. He asked why the couple should not be considered accessories after the fact in Slepian’s 1998 killing—referring to e-mails from Kopp to Marra and Malvasi that said he was tired of "living in limbo" and wondering whether he should return "to the field." Kopp, who was at one time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, is not only facing charges in the murder of Dr. Slepian, but also has been indicted for the 1995 shooting of Ontario abortion provider Dr. Hugh Short and is the primary suspect in three separate shootings of abortion providers in Canada and New York.
Media Resources: Buffalo News 9/6/02; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 9/9/02; Ottawa Citizen 9/6/02
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. . . .