James Kopp, the anti-abortion extremist who in March was convicted of the intentional murder of Barnett Slepian, MD, will face federal charges for the murder as well. Koppís attorney had argued that since Kopp had already received 25 years to life he wouldnít even be eligible for parole until he was 73, so an additional trial would just be a waste of resources, according to the Buffalo News. Kopp also claimed that a second trial would be double jeopardy, but prosecutors argued that the state and federal charges are different, the Associated Press reports.
In federal court, Kopp is charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which protects womenís access to abortion services. The Buffalo News reports that the decision to proceed with federal charges against Kopp came from US Attorney General John Ashcroft or one of his top aides.
In related news, a witness has stepped forward claiming to have seen alleged Kopp accomplice Dennis Malvasi in Slepianís Amherst, NY, neighborhood a week after Kopp shot Dr. Slepian. Malvasi and his wife, Loretta Marra, accepted a federal plea deal in April that has a maximum sentence of five years, but both had claimed that they did not know Kopp had killed Dr. Slepian and had only sent Kopp money while he was on the run from authorities. Police are investigating the possibility that if Malvasi was in Slepianís neighborhood so soon after the shooting, he could have been trying to retrieve the murder weapon and other evidence Kopp buried in the woods behind Slepianís house, according to the Buffalo News. Marra and Malvasi will be sentenced tomorrow in New York City.
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. . . .