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Abortion Controversy

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Abortion, guns and religion _ a major change in the law in any one of these areas would have made for a fateful Supreme Court term. In its first full term together, the court’s conservative majority ruled in all three and issued other significant decisions limiting the government’s regulatory powers. And it has signaled no plans to slow down. With three appointees of former President Donald Trump in their 50s, the six-justice conservative majority seems poised to keep control of the court for years to come, if not decades. Its remaining opinions issued, the court began its summer recess Thursday, and the justices will next return to the courtroom in October.

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The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that had given some abortion clinics confidence to resume performing abortions. The order handed down Friday night by the state’s highest court comes just days after some abortion providers rushed to resume services. An lower court order issued this week by a Houston judge had reassured some doctors they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. Before that, doctors across Texas had stopped performing abortions in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion.

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The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that had given some abortion clinics confidence to resume performing abortions. The order handed down Friday night by the state’s highest court comes just days after some abortion providers rushed to resume services. An lower court order issued this week by a Houston judge had reassured some doctors they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. Before that, doctors across Texas had stopped performing abortions in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion.

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Democrats and their aligned groups raised more than $80 million in the week after the Supreme Court stripped away a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion. The flood of cash offers one of the first tangible signs that the ruling may energize voters. But party officials say donors have given much of that money to national campaigns and causes instead of races for state office, where abortion policy will be shaped as a result of the court’s decision. That’s where Republicans wield disproportionate power. The fundraising disparity is exasperating the party's base.

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California voters will weigh in on seven ballot measures this fall. It's the fewest number to appear on a statewide general election ballot since 2014. Thursday was the deadline to qualify measures for the November ballot. One question was placed on the ballot by the state Legislature and six are initiatives that gathered enough verified signatures to go before voters. Voters will be asked to weigh in on issues including whether to enshrine the right to an abortion in the California Constitution, whether to expand sports betting and whether to set aside public school funding for arts and music.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The June 24 ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

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Decades of anti-abortion laws have been created in some states, and many of them conflict with each other. Idaho has nearly three dozen anti-abortion laws dating back to 1973, and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office says he i giving them all a close look to see which might be enforceable now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. But it's not an easy question — in Arizona, leaders in the Republican Party disagree over whether an abortion law from 1901 should be enforced over a 2022 version. Grant Loebs is the president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association. He says decision on whether to charge someone under an older abortion law will probably come down to individual prosecutors at first.

North Carolina's Democratic attorney general has not yet indicated whether he will ask a court to lift the injunction on a state law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Attorney General Josh Stein told Republican lawmakers on Friday that his department’s attorneys are reviewing the litigation that led a federal court to strike down the 20-week ban. His letter responds to GOP demands that he take immediate action in the wake of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned abortion protections. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore warned last week Stein's inaction would lead them to get involved.

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The Indiana Department of Health says the number of abortions performed in the state rose by 8.5% last year. The data release comes as lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Legislature prepare to debate tighter abortion laws following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The Health Department's annual report shows 8,414 abortions were performed in the state during 2021. That’s 658 more than the 7,756 abortions during 2020 in Indiana. About 56% of abortions in Indiana last year were drug induced, a slight increase from 2020 when, for the first time, they accounted for a majority at 55%.

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New Jersey's Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has signed two bills aiming to protect the right of those from outside the state to get abortion services within New Jersey's borders and barring extradition of people involved in reproductive health care services should they face charges in another state. The legislation moved swiftly in the Democrat-led Legislature, just a week after the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Murphy and lawmakers say the legislation ensures residents of other states seeking reproductive health care in New Jersey can access confidential abortion services without fear of being prosecuted.

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President Joe Biden has held a virtual meeting with Democratic governors as he considers next steps on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week. During their session on Friday, the governors suggested expanding access to abortion using federal facilities such as Veterans Affairs hospitals, or working with Native American tribes who have a level of sovereignty over their own land. Biden says his administration is "looking at all the alternatives.” He described the court decision as “tragic” and warned that women could be arrested while crossing state lines to get an abortion.

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The Supreme Court's decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion is causing anxiety for people in same-sex marriages, particularly those with children. The decision last week overturning Roe v. Wade didn't directly affect the 2015 ruling that paved the way for gay marriage. But lawyers say now they're getting questions from same-sex couples worried about the legal status of their marriages and keeping their children. Alabama lawyer Sydney Duncan has received dozens of emails and calls in just a few days. Justice Clarence Thomas has called on colleagues to reconsider cases that allowed same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception.

A Mississippi judge has set a hearing in a lawsuit by the state’s only abortion clinic. The suit seeks to block a law that would ban most abortions. Such a ruling would allow the clinic to remain open. The law is set to take effect two days after Tuesday's hearing. The law says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will be legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. The clinic’s lawsuit says the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a ruling in 1998 that recognized a right to abortion in the state constitution.

The Ohio Supreme Court has denied a request from abortion providers to freeze the newly imposed state ban on abortions at the first detectable “fetal heartbeat” while a legal debate plays out in court. At issue is the ban Ohio implemented a week ago, the same day the U.S. Supreme Court found the U.S. Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion. Providers wanted the state Supreme Court to grant an emergency stay, arguing it was needed to protect the constitutional rights of Ohioans. The state opposed the request, saying the Ohio Constitution doesn’t recognize the right to an abortion.

A new law in Maryland will expand access to abortion by ending a restriction that only physicians perform them. The law taking effect Friday will enable nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants to provide abortions with training. As states seeking abortion bans see a flurry of action in courthouses in the ruling’s aftermath, other states where abortion is legal are preparing for greater demand and more patients. Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, signed legislation on Wednesday to further broaden access to abortions. The law includes various legal protections for abortion providers and patients, including out-of-state residents receiving abortions in Delaware.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: A 2019 amendment to a Kentucky abortion law was proposed as satire and not seriously considered. A Department of Defense statement issued after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade did not say the Pentagon would defy the ruling, nor did it say it would violate any state laws on the matter. Pallets of bricks pictured on a Washington, D.C., street were for ongoing construction, not to incite rioting. Research at a Tennessee laboratory studied neutron activity, not a portal to a parallel universe.

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A new poll finds a growing percentage of Americans calling out abortion or women’s rights as priorities for the government in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, especially among Democrats and those who support abortion access. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds 22% of U.S. adults name abortion or women’s rights in an open-ended question as one of five problems they want the government to work on. That’s nearly tripled since December. The poll, which included interviews conducted before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling, finds prioritization of the issues grew sharply following the decision.

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New York Democrats are considering enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. It possibly could be part of a broader amendment that would also prohibit discrimination based on gender expression. Lawmakers held a special legislative session Thursday that Gov. Kathy Hochul called primarily to pass an emergency overhaul of the state’s gun permitting rules after they were struck down by a Supreme Court Court ruling. But the Democrats were talking privately about whether to also use the emergency session to launch the process of amending the state constitution to protect the right to abortions.

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Delaware lawmakers have wrapped up legislative session with action on secondary bills after a successful push by Democrats to enact higher-profile measures tightening gun ownership laws and expanding access to abortions. Gov. John Carney put an exclamation point on Thursday's session end, signing a package of gun control measures that fellow Democrats rammed through the General Assembly in the wake of recent mass shootings in other states.  Lawmakers on Thursday also put the finishing touches on record-setting spending plans. They consist of a $5.1 billion operating budget, a $1.46 billion capital budget, and $69.4 million in grants to community organizations, nonprofit groups and volunteer fire companies.

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Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in to the Supreme Court, shattering a glass ceiling as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court. The 51-year-old Jackson is the court’s 116th justice and took the place Thursday of the justice she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement took effect at noon. Moments later, joined by her family, Jackson recited the two oaths required of Supreme Court justices, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts. Jackson says she's “truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation” and extends thanks to her new colleagues for their “gracious welcome.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed enforcement of a 2021 Arizona law that lets prosecutors bring felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate pregnancies solely because the fetuses have a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. Thursday's decision comes in the wake of the high court’s June 24 decision that said women have no constitutional right to obtain an abortion. It has no immediate effect because Arizona providers stopped all abortions following last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. It was unclear if a pre-statehood law banning all abortions was enforceable, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday it can be. Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mays says Brnovich “just took us back to 1901.”

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has denounced a Kentucky law designed to impose a near-total ban on abortions as “extremist.” Beshear pointed to the measure's lack of exceptions for rape and incest victims. In doing so, he pushed back on an issue Republicans have made a policymaking priority. Beshear's comments came after a state judge on Thursday temporarily suspended enforcement of the state’s so-called trigger law. The 2019 measure took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week to end federal constitutional protections for abortions. A ruling Thursday by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry allowed abortions to resume in Kentucky.

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A Florida judge says he will temporarily block the state's 15-week abortion ban. The judge said Thursday that ban violates the state’s constitution and he will issue an order blocking it, but not before it is scheduled to take effect Friday. In Kentucky, a judge has temporarily blocked that state’s near-total ban on the procedure triggered by the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. The cases reflect battles being waged in courts across the country after the Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide whether abortion is legal within their borders.

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Alabama  is using the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion to argue that the state should also be able to ban gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender youth. The state is asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift an injunction against an Alabama law that would make it a felony to give puberty blockers or hormones to transgender minors to help affirm their gender identity. The case marks one of the first known instances in which a conservative state has tried to apply the abortion decision to other realms, just as LGBTQ advocates and others feared would happen.

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