Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of anti-abortion extremist James Kopp, who confessed to the sniper-style killing of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo, NY obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider. Potential jurors, to be chosen from a pool of 600 people, began filling out a 16-page questionnaire that included several questions about their views on abortion and religion. With defense attorney Bruce Barket expected to turn the trial into a “forum on abortion” arguing that Kopp’s shooting of Slepian was “justifiable homicide,” jurors’ opinions on abortion could come into play, according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.
“Everybody, obviously, unless you’ve been living in a cave, would have an opinion about abortion,” Joe Marusak, Erie County prosecutor, told the Hamilton Spectator. “We’re just looking for people who will be able to not allow their opinion of abortion influence their finding of the facts and applying the law to the facts.”
Kopp, who killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998 while he was fixing dinner inside his home, is currently being held in a Buffalo jail after evading authorities for two-and-a-half years. DNA evidence has been found linking Kopp to the attempted murder of Canadian doctor Hugh Short, who was shot in his home in 1995. Kopp also is the prime suspect in the sniper-style shootings of three other abortion providers.
With jury selection expected to be complete by March 17, testimony will then begin on state charges of second-degree murder and “murder with depraved indifference to life” against Kopp, which could carry a maximum of 25 years in prison. Kopp will later face federal charges under the Freedom Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) of using deadly force against an abortion provider.
Media Resources: Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 3/4/03; Hamilton Spectator 3/1/03; Associated Press 3/3/03
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. . . .