Case Against Kopp Accomplices to Move to Different Court
Federal charges against anti-abortion extremists Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi were dropped in Buffalo on Friday by District Judge Richard Arcarra, clearing the way for the trial to be moved to a federal court in New York City, according to Buffalo News. The couple admitted to helping James Charles Kopp avoid capture when he was wanted for the 1998 murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian. They have been charged with obstruction of justice and aiding a fugitive, charges that carry a maximum sentence of ten years, according to the Associated Press.
Judge Arcarra refused on two occasions to accept a plea deal that would give Marra and Malvasi greatly reduced sentences agreed to by the defendants’ lawyers and US District Attorney Kathleen Mehltretter, who claimed that information that would damage the case against Kopp could be revealed at the Marra/Malvasi trial. Though Arcarra is skeptical of such a claim, he stated in his decision to dismiss the charges that if he had refused, federal prosecutors could have simply decided not to pursue the case against the couple, according to the Buffalo News. Arcarra accused the US Attorney’s office of “judge-shopping” and believes that when the charges are brought before another court, the plea deal he rejected will be “rubber-stamp[ed]” for approval, according to the Buffalo News.
Malvasi, who has been convicted in the bombings of three reproductive health clinics as well as the attempted bombing of a fourth clinic, has already served five years in prison. Marra, was twice arrested with Kopp during anti-abortion protests in Vermont and New York in the early 1990s. 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.
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. . . .