Maryna Lialko had raised the girls alone after their father left the family, their grandmother, Nina Lialko, said.

“She was devoted to these two girls,” she said.

Kateryna was discharged this fall from Ohmadyt hospital, where she received psychiatric and physical therapy, and the girls are now in Kyiv living with their grandmother and aunt.

The aunt, Olha Lialko, said she has seen a shift in their personalities. Kateryna is increasingly turning inward; she speaks very little and struggles to maintain eye contact. Yuliia still can’t fully comprehend the loss.

“Katya is very closed; she keeps it all to herself,” Olha Lialko said. “Yuliia is missing mom a lot. She needs attention, she likes to cuddle.”

The family is trying to help the girls process their loss. And occasionally they see glimpses of the girls they knew before the war.

They dye their hair wild colors and play with makeup. They fight as only sisters can, and cling closely to each other for company.

But no one knows what will come next for them. Their life is on hold. They attend school online and have few friends in the new city. The family is unable to return home to Donetsk but unwilling to commit to staying in Kyiv.

“It will be very difficult for them to live without her,” their grandmother said. “This life has no sense at all.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting

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Indiana Abortion Clinics Sue To Block Ban Set To Take Effect

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

The lawsuit claims the ban “strips away the fundamental rights of people seeking abortion care” in violation of the Indiana Constitution.

Indiana abortion clinic operators filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block the state’s ban on abortions before it takes effect in about two weeks. 

The lawsuit filed in a Monroe County court claims the ban, which includes limited exceptions, “strips away the fundamental rights of people seeking abortion care” in violation of the Indiana Constitution. It asks for a judge to block the law from going into effect on Sept. 15, arguing the ban “will infringe on Hoosiers’ right to privacy, violate Indiana’s guarantee of equal privileges and immunities, and includes unconstitutionally vague language.”

Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature approved the tighter abortion restrictions during a two-week special legislative session that ended Aug. 5, making it the first state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections for abortions by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The Indiana law includes exceptions, allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

The legal question of whether the Indiana Constitution protects abortion rights is unclear, said Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed the lawsuit.

Falk pointed to a 2004 state appeals court decision that said privacy was a core value under the state constitution that extended to all residents, including women seeking an abortion. But the Indiana Supreme Court later upheld a law mandating an 18-hour waiting period before a woman could undergo an abortion while not deciding whether the state constitution included a right to privacy or abortion.

The leader of Indiana’s most prominent anti-abortion group argued the state constitution protects life as among the “inalienable rights.”

“We are confident the state will prevail and pray the new law is not blocked from going into effect on September 15, knowing that any delay will mean the indiscriminate killing of unborn children will continue at abortion clinics across Indiana,” Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter said in a statement.

Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University law professor, said she believed the argument that the state constitution prohibits lawmakers from stripping legal privileges from some residents that are available to others is a strong argument against the abortion ban.

“When you look at people who become pregnant, their medical care is being regulated in a way that the medical care of people who do not become pregnant is not being regulated,” she said. “Men, for example, can access the full panoply of available medical resources in a health situation.”

Under new Indiana law, abortions could be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. Any doctors found to have performed an illegal abortion would be stripped of their state medical licenses and could face felony criminal charges punishable by up to six years in prison.

Indiana’s ban followed the political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy. The case gained wide attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child came to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of abortion-rights supporters including Planned Parenthood, which operates four of Indiana’s seven licensed abortion clinics, along with groups that operate two of the other clinics and a doctor who performs abortions.

It will be heard by a judge in southern Indiana’s Monroe County, which includes the liberal-leaning city of Bloomington and Indiana University’s main campus. All nine of the county’s nine judges are Democrats, while all other counties with abortion clinics have judges who’ve either been elected as Republicans or been appointed by Republican governors.

The ACLU’s Falk said the suit was filed in Monroe County because an abortion clinic is located there but did not respond to a question about whether the group was seeking a friendly judge.

Drobac said she believed filing the complaint in Bloomington could be where the ban opponents “have the greatest opportunity for success.”

Republican legislative leaders said they believed the abortion restrictions would be upheld by the courts.

“We set out to pass a bill in the special session that would protect life and support mothers and babies, and that’s what we did,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said in a statement. “It was always our intent to draft a bill that could withstand a constitutional challenge, and I hope to see that will be the case.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Federal Judge Blocks Idaho Abortion Ban In Medical Emergencies

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
August 25, 2022

The ruling means the state temporarily cannot prosecute anyone who is performing an abortion in an emergency medical situation.

A federal judge in Idaho has barred the state from enforcing a strict abortion ban in medical emergencies over concerns that it violates a federal law on emergency care.

The ruling Wednesday evening came after a federal judge this week in Texas made the opposite call, barring the federal government from enforcing a legal interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act that would require Texas hospitals to provide abortion services if the health or life of the mother is at risk.

In Idaho, the ban makes performing an abortion in any “clinically diagnosable pregnancy” a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Much of Idaho’s law will still go into effect Thursday, but U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Wednesday the state cannot prosecute anyone who is performing an abortion in an emergency medical situation.

That’s because abortions in those cases appear to fall under a federal health care law requiring Medicare-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients, Winmill said.

That includes cases when the health of a pregnant patient is in serious jeopardy, when continuing the pregnancy could result in a serious impairment to a person’s bodily functions, or a serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

The pause on enforcement in Idaho will continue until a lawsuit challenging the ban is resolved, the judge said in the written ruling.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the Republican-led state of Idaho earlier this month, saying the abortion ban set to take effect on Thursday violates the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor (EMTALA) Act . Idaho’s law criminalizes all abortions in “clinically diagnosable pregnancies,” but allows physicians to defend themselves in court by arguing the procedure was necessary to avert the death of the mother.

Idaho Attorney General’s spokesman Scott Graf said his office would not comment on the ruling because the case is still working its way through the courts.

Winmill said the case wasn’t about abortion rights but about whether state or federal law takes precedence in this situation. The judge in the Idaho case said it was clear federal law did.

Winmill said the Idaho law would pose a dilemma for a doctor who felt they had to, under “EMTALA obligations,” perform an abortion to save the life of the mother even though they are banned under state law.

“At its core, the Supremacy Clause says state law must yield to federal law when it’s impossible to comply with both. And that’s all this case is about,” Winmill wrote. “It’s not about the bygone constitutional right to an abortion.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Some Capitol Rioters Try To Profit From Their Jan. 6 Crimes

A group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions .

Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the U.S. Capitol, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.

A Nevada man jailed on riot charges asked his mother to contact publishers for a book he was writing about “the Capitol incident.” A rioter from Washington state helped his father hawk clothes and other merchandise bearing slogans such as “Our House” and images of the Capitol building. A Virginia man released a rap album with riot-themed songs and a cover photograph of him sitting on a police vehicle outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those actions are sometimes complicating matters for defendants when they face judges at sentencing as prosecutors point to the profit-chasing activities in seeking tougher punishments. The Justice Department, in some instances, is trying to claw back money that rioters have made off the insurrection.

In one case, federal authorities have seized tens of thousands of dollars from a defendant who sold his footage from Jan. 6. In another case, a Florida man’s plea deal allows the U.S. government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. And prosecutors want a Maine man who raised more than $20,000 from supporters to surrender some of the money because a taxpayer-funded public defender is representing him.

Many rioters have paid a steep personal price for their actions on Jan. 6. At sentencing, rioters often ask for leniency on the grounds that they already have experienced severe consequences for their crimes.

They lost jobs or entire careers. Marriages fell apart. Friends and relatives shunned them or even reported them to the FBI. Strangers have sent them hate mail and online threats. And they have racked up expensive legal bills to defend themselves against federal charges ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies.

Websites and crowdfunding platforms set up to collect donations for Capitol riot defendants try to portray them as mistreated patriots or even political prisoners.

An anti-vaccine medical doctor who pleaded guilty to illegally entering the Capitol founded a nonprofit that raised more than $430,000 for her legal expenses. The fundraising appeal by Dr. Simone Gold’s group, America’s Frontline Doctors, didn’t mention her guilty plea, prosecutors noted.

Before sentencing Gold to two months behind bars, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper called it “unseemly” that her nonprofit invoked the Capitol riot to raise money that also paid for her salary. Prosecutors said in court papers that it “beggars belief” that she incurred anywhere close to $430,000 in legal costs for her misdemeanor case.

Another rioter, a New Jersey gym owner who punched a police officer during the siege, raised more than $30,000 in online donations for a “Patriot Relief Fund” to cover his mortgage payments and other monthly bills. Prosecutors cited the fund in recommending a fine for Scott Fairlamb, who is serving a prison sentence of more than three years.

“Fairlamb should not be able to ‘capitalize’ on his participation in the Capitol breach in this way,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.

Robert Palmer, a Florida man who attacked police officers at the Capitol, asked a friend to create a crowdfunding campaign for him online after he pleaded guilty. After seeing the campaign to “Help Patriot Rob,” a probation officer calculating a sentencing recommendation for Palmer didn’t give him credit for accepting responsibility for his conduct. Palmer conceded that a post for the campaign falsely portrayed his conduct on Jan. 6. Acceptance of responsibility can help shave months or even years off a sentence.

“When you threw the fire extinguisher and the plank at the police officers, were you acting in self-defense?” asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

“No, ma’am, I was not,” Palmer said before the judge sentenced him to more than five years in prison.

A group calling itself the Patriot Freedom Project says it has raised more than $1 million in contributions and paid more than $665,000 in grants and legal fees for families of Capitol riot defendants.

In April, a New Jersey-based foundation associated with the group filed an IRS application for tax-exempt status. As of early August, an IRS database doesn’t list the foundation as a tax-exempt organization. The Hughes Foundation’s IRS application says its funds “principally” will benefit families of Jan. 6 defendants, with about 60% of the donated money going to foundation activities. The rest will cover management and fundraising expenses, including salaries, it adds.

Rioters have found other ways to enrich or promote themselves.

Jeremy Grace, who was sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol, tried to profit off his participation by helping his dad sell T-shirts, baseball caps, water bottles, decals and other gear with phrases such as “Our House” and “Back the Blue” and images of the Capitol, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Grace’s “audacity” to sell “Back the Blue” paraphernalia is “especially disturbing” because he watched other rioters confront police officers on Jan. 6. A defense lawyer, however, said Grace didn’t break any laws or earn any profits by helping his father sell the merchandise.

Federal authorities seized more than $62,000 from a bank account belonging to riot defendant John Earle Sullivan, a Utah man who earned more than $90,000 from selling his Jan. 6 video footage to at least six companies. Sullivan’s lawyer argued authorities had no right to seize the money.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, an Arkansas man photographed propping his feet up on a desk in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has charged donors $100 for photos of him with his feet on a desk while under house arrest. Defense lawyer Joseph McBride said prosecutors have “zero grounds” to prevent Barnett from raising money for his defense before a December trial date.

“Unlike the government, Mr. Barnett does not have the American Taxpayer footing the bill for his legal case,” McBride wrote in a court filing.

Texas real estate agent Jennifer Leigh Ryan promoted her business on social media during and after the riot, boasting that she was “becoming famous.” In messages sent after Jan. 6, Ryan “contemplated the business she needed to prepare for as a result of the publicity she received from joining the mob at the Capitol,” prosecutors said in court documents.

Prosecutors cited the social media activity of Treniss Evans III in recommending a two-month jail term for the Texas man, who drank a shot of whiskey in a congressional conference room on Jan. 6. Evans has “aggressively exploited” his presence at the Capitol to expand his social media following on Gettr, a social media site founded by a former Trump adviser, prosecutors wrote before Evans’ sentencing, scheduled for this coming Tuesday,

A few rioters are writing books about the mob’s attack or have marketed videos that they shot during the riot.

A unique provision in Adam Johnson’s plea agreement allows the U.S. government to collect profits from any book he gets published over the next five years. Images of Johnson posing for photographs with Pelosi’s podium went viral after the riot. Prosecutors said they insisted on the provision after learning that Johnson intends to write a memoir “of some sort.”

Ronald Sandlin, a Nevada man charged with assaulting officers near doors to the Senate gallery, posted on Facebook that he was “working out a Netflix deal” to sell riot video footage. Later, in a call from jail, Sandlin told his mother that he had met with right-wing author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza and was in contact with podcaster Joe Rogan. He also asked his mom to contact publishers for the book he was writing about the “Capitol incident,” prosecutors said.

“I hope to turn it into movie,” Sandlin wrote in a March 2021 text message. “I plan on having Leonardo DiCaprio play me,” he wrote, adding a smiley face emoji.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Where Do Frontline Workers Go For Help With Mental Health Challenges?

Trauma of tragedy, pandemic burnout and long hours may push physicians to need mental health treatment, but stigma keeps them from getting help.

Carl Stokes lives on the east side of Buffalo, New York.

“It’s been a lot of talking people down and trying to bring people up,” Stokes said.

After a mass shooting took the lives of 10 people at the Tops Supermarket just down the street from his home, the crisis counselor began treating people from his own neighborhood. 

“I’ve come home quite a few times and was a little bit shaken by some of the stories,” Stokes said.

Buffalo nurse Trinetta Alston and Dr. Kenyani Davis say it’s the stories from the Tops employees, their patients, that haunt them. 

“You get tired of hearing about things happening in your community to people of color,” Alston said. “You get tired of it and you try to find the why.”

“You start to see how broken the system is on top of all of the health inequities that we have, on top of the structural racism, on top of the inability to help you grow angry, and the most you can do is take a step back,” Dr. Davis said. “But every day you take a step back, there’s other people that’s that’s suffering as well. I don’t know where the helpers go.”

Community leader Lavonne Ansari held conversations with police officers and funeral directors struggling after the event. 

“What would make you think that they don’t have feelings, that they’re invisible?” Ansari asked.

It was Fred Rodgers who famously said, “Look for the helpers.” But what happens when the helpers need help? 

The onslaught of both the pandemic and gun violence has mental health professionals trying to figure out ways to get resources to the people on the front lines.

A 2021 report from the Physicians Foundation found 55% of physicians say they know a fellow doctor who has considered, tried or had a death by suicide.

“That historical separation of the ‘work stress’ and the ‘home stress’ has become artificial now, and you’re seeing lots of folks experiencing both,” said Dr. Bernard Chang, vice chair of research at Columbia University Department of Emergency Medicine.

According to a survey from Trusted Health, 60% of nurses say they would be afraid to share feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts with a colleague — the main reason being concerns about confidentiality.

Dr. Chang is both an ER doctor and a psychologist and heads up Columbia University’s research on physician burnout. He says stigma keeps fellow physicians from seeking help.

“Documentation, burden, fear of loss of control over your schedule as being some of the primary drivers of clinician burnout or people leaving the field,” Dr. Chang said. “I think that as system administrators, we really need to be aware about that and take those voices into account as we think about strategizing about the most efficient health care design.”

The study calls on employers to create an environment open to talking about mental health.

“We have this cultural mindset of being above the fray and also being just immune to some of the stresses that we see, and I would say it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to seek help,” Dr. Chang said. 

Back in Buffalo, Alston says she has taken advantage of some of her company’s mental health exercises and finds them helpful. She also finds strength in remembering her purpose and that she’s only human. 

“This is what I asked for,” Alston said. “I didn’t ask to be rich. I didn’t ask to make $40 an hour. I didn’t ask for none of that. I asked God to let me show love that was shown to me and where, but in your community can you do that?”

Source: newsy.com

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Indiana Becomes 1st State To Approve Abortion Ban Since Roe Reversal

By Maura Sirianni
August 6, 2022

Under the bill, all abortion clinics would lose their licenses, and abortions will be performed only in hospitals.

Indiana has approved a near-total ban on abortions, that will take effect next month. Making the state the first in the nation to pass sweeping abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced late Friday that he had signed Senate Bill 1, a measure that would ban abortions in the state, with few exceptions. The vote in Indiana Statehouse followed an emotional, and at times contentious, debate.

Much of the debate was over whether to remove language exempting rape and incest victims from forced childbirth. 

Lawmakers ultimately voted to keep some exceptions: Abortions would be permitted in cases of rape, incest, and for when the life of the pregnant person or fetus is at risk.

Politicians on both sides, noted the time crunch they were under to consider such a difficult topic.

“Indiana is one of the most dangerous states in the nation for pregnant women,” said Rep. Robin Shackleford.

“People who don’t want to accept what the Bible has to say … I want to defer to science because science clearly says that human life begins at conception,” said Rep. John Jacob.

“In this chamber, 73% of you will never know that aftermath of trauma or pregnancy or just the possibility of pregnancy after a rape; and yet we’re all voting,” said Rep. Ann Vermilion.

Particular attention has been placed on Indiana, after the story of a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who traveled to a hospital in Indianapolis to receive abortion care and created a political firestorm.

Earlier this week, the doctor who performed the child’s abortion took to Twitter, blasting the bill as it made its way through the general assembly. She said, in part:

“I am deeply disturbed by the bill being considered by the Indiana legislature. I’ve practiced medicine for 12 years and follow a code of ethics, so I know medicine is not about exceptions. Every person deserves to have equal access to the best medical care.”

On Saturday, the Biden administration expressed sharp disapproval of Indiana’s bill. President Joe Biden signed an executive order supporting individuals traveling out of state for an abortion, on Tuesday.

Leading up to the decision in Indiana, several thousand people lined the sidewalks outside Indiana Statehouse corridors.

Some angered…

“I’m a nurse, and abortion is health care, abortion saves lives, and we need to continue to health care as women,” said Cami Keltch, a pro-abortion protester.

Others praising lawmakers who were in favor of passing the harsh new legislation.

“First and foremost, I’m a Christian. And so, I see a lot of people that don’t have hope and I’m praying for them,” said Emily Wamsley, an anti-abortion rights protester.

Indiana’s Senate Bill 1 replaces the state’s current 22-week abortion ban. The new near-total abortion ban is set to take effect September 15.

Source: newsy.com

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Indiana Becomes 1st State To Approve Abortion Ban Post Roe

Under the ban, which takes effect Sept. 15, all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. The ban includes some exceptions.

Indiana on Friday became the first state in the nation to approve abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, as the Republican governor quickly signed a near-total ban on the procedure shortly after lawmakers approved it.

The ban, which takes effect Sept. 15, includes some exceptions. Abortions would be permitted in cases of rape and incest, before 10-weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly. Victims of rape and incest would not be required to sign a notarized affidavit attesting to an attack, as had once been proposed.

Under the bill, abortions can be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals, meaning all abortion clinics would lose their licenses. A doctor who performs an illegal abortion or fails to file required reports must also lose their medical license — wording that tightens current Indiana law that says a doctor “may” lose their license.

“I am personally most proud of each Hoosier who came forward to courageously share their views in a debate that is unlikely to cease any time soon,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the statement announcing that he had signed the measure. “For my part as your governor, I will continue to keep an open ear.”

His approval came after the Senate approved the ban 28-19 and the House advanced it 62-38.

Indiana was among the earliest Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling in June that removed constitutional protections for the procedure. But it is the first state to pass a ban through both chambers, after West Virginia lawmakers on July 29 passed up the chance to be that state.

“Happy to be completed with this, one of the more challenging things that we’ve ever done as a state General Assembly, at least certainly while I’ve been here,” Senate President Pro-Tem Rodric Bray told reporters after the vote. ” I think this is a huge opportunity, and we’ll build on that as we go forward from here.”

Sen. Sue Glick of LaGrange, who sponsored the bill, said that she does not think “all states will come down at the same place” but that most Indiana residents support aspects of the bill.

Some senators in both parties lamented the bill’s provisions and the impact it would have on the state, including low-income women and the health care system. Eight Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in voting against the bill, though their reasons to thwart the measure were mixed.

“We are backsliding on democracy,” said Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis, who wore a green ribbon Friday signifying support for abortion rights, on her lapel. “What other freedoms, what other liberties are on the chopping block, waiting to be stripped away?”

Republican Sen. Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores spoke about his 21-year-old-daughter, who has Down syndrome. Bohacek voted against the bill, saying it does not have adequate protections for women with disabilities who are raped.

“If she lost her favorite stuffed animal, she’d be inconsolable. Imagine making her carry a child to term,” he said before he started to choke up, then threw his notes on his seat and exited the chamber.

Republican Sen. Mike Young of Indianapolis, however, said the bill’s enforcement provisions against doctors are not stringent enough.

Such debates demonstrated Indiana residents’ own divisions on the issue, displayed in hours of testimony lawmakers heard over the past two weeks. Residents rarely, if ever, expressed support for the the legislation in their testimony, as abortion-rights supporters said the bill goes too far while anti-abortion activists expressed it doesn’t go far enough.

The debates came amid an evolving landscape of abortion politics across the country as Republicans face some party divisions and Democrats see a possible election-year boost.

Republican Rep. Wendy McNamara of Evansville, who sponsored the House bill, told reporters after the House vote that the legislation “makes Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the nation.”

Outside the chambers, abortion-rights activists often chanted over lawmakers’ remarks, carrying signs like “Roe roe roe your vote” and “Build this wall” between church and state. Some House Democrats wore blazers over pink “Bans Off Our Bodies” T-shirts.

Indiana’s ban followed the political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy. The case gained attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child came to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.

Religion was a persistent theme during legislative debates, both in residents’ testimony and lawmakers’ comments.

In advocating against the House bill, Rep. Ann Vermilion condemned fellow Republicans who have called women “murderers” for getting an abortion.

“I think that the Lord’s promise is for grace and kindness,” she said. “He would not be jumping to condemn these women.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Russian Judge Sentences Griner To 9 Years In Prison On Drug Charges

WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested nearly six months ago at a Moscow airport over cannabis vape cartridges found in her luggage.

Update: This article has been updated since its original publication to highlight Brittney Griner’s sentence. 

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted Thursday in Russia of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison following a politically charged trial that came amid soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine and could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between the two world powers.

The 31-year-old Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, listened with a blank expression as an interpreter translated the verdict by Judge Anna Sotnikova. The judge also fined Griner 1 million rubles (about $16,700).

U.S. President Joe Biden denounced the verdict and sentence as “unacceptable.”

“I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates,” President Biden said, adding that he would continue to work to bring home Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction.

Earlier in the session, with a conviction all but certain, an emotional Griner made a final appeal to the court for leniency. She said she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow in February to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.

“I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” Griner said, her voice cracking. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”

Griner said she made “an honest mistake” in bringing the vape cartridges into Russia, adding: “I hope in your ruling it does not end my life.”

Griner said Yekaterinburg, a city east of the Ural Mountains, had become her “second home.”

“I had no idea that the team, the cities, the fans, my teammates would make such a great impression on me over the 6 1/2 years that I spent here,” she said. “I remember vividly coming out of the gym and all the little girls that were in the stands there waiting on me, and that’s what kept making me come back here.”

Prosecutor Nikolai Vlasenko insisted that Griner packed the cannabis oil deliberately.

Lawyers for the Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist have sought to bolster Griner’s contention that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her luggage by mistake. They presented character witnesses from the Yekaterinburg team that she plays for in the WNBA offseason and written testimony from a doctor who said he prescribed her cannabis for pain treatment from injuries sustained in her basketball career.

Her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, argued that Griner used the cannabis only in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal.

She emphasized that Griner was packing in haste after a grueling flight and suffering from the consequences of COVID-19. Blagovolina also pointed out that the analysis of cannabis found in Griner’s possession was flawed and violated legal procedures.

Blagovolina asked the court to acquit Griner, noting that she had no past criminal record and hailing her role in “the development of Russian basketball.”

Another defense attorney, Alexander Boykov, emphasized Griner’s role in taking her Yekaterinburg team to win multiple championships, noting that she was loved and admired by her teammates. He told the judge that a conviction would undermine Russia’s efforts to develop national sports and make Moscow’s call to depoliticize sports sound shallow.

Boykov added that even after her arrest, Griner won the sympathy of both her guards and prison inmates, who supported her by shouting, “Brittney, everything will be OK!” when she went on walks at the jail.

Before her trial began in July, the State Department designated her as “wrongfully detained,” moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Then last week, in an extraordinary move, Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

The Lavrov-Blinken call marked the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow since Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than five months ago. The direct outreach over Griner is at odds with U.S. efforts to isolate the Kremlin.

People familiar with the proposal say it envisions trading Griner and Whelan for the notorious arms trader Viktor Bout, who is serving a prison sentence in the United States. It underlines the public pressure that the White House has faced to get Griner released.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that Russia has made a “bad faith” response to the U.S. government’s offer, a counteroffer that American officials don’t regard as serious. She declined to elaborate.

Russian officials have scoffed at U.S. statements about the case, saying they show a disrespect for Russian law. They remained poker-faced, urging Washington to discuss the issue through “quiet diplomacy without releases of speculative information.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Kentucky Judge Extends Block Of State’s Abortion Ban

By Associated Press
July 22, 2022

The injunction from Circuit Judge Mitch Perry allows the state’s only two clinics to continue providing abortions while the case is litigated.

A Kentucky judge granted an injunction on Friday that prevents the state’s near-total ban on abortions from taking effect, meaning the state’s two clinics can continue providing abortions, for now.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry’s ruling says there is “a substantial likelihood” that Kentucky’s new abortion law violates “the rights to privacy and self-determination” protected by Kentucky’s constitution.

The injunction issued in Louisville allows the state’s only two clinics to continue providing abortions while the case is litigated.

Kentucky’s trigger law was meant to ban abortions as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but Perry issued a restraining order in June blocking the ban.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican running for governor, is likely to take the case next to the state appeals court. Cameron has said Perry’s order has no basis in the state constitution.

Kentucky’s trigger law contains a narrow exception allowing a physician to perform an abortion if necessary to prevent the death or permanent injury of the pregnant woman. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has denounced that law as “extremist,” noting it lacks exceptions for rape and incest.

Perry held a hearing on July 6 to listen to arguments on the injunction. A doctor who performs abortions at one of the clinics cited statistics she said showed that pregnancy can be more dangerous to the health of a mother than abortion.

Perry also wrote in his ruling that the trigger ban is “an arguably unconstitutional delegation of authority,” since it depended on another “jurisdictional body” — the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kentuckians are set to vote in November on a constitutional amendment that would ensure there are no state constitutional protections for abortion.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Indiana Republicans Propose Banning Abortion With Exceptions

By Associated Press
July 20, 2022

The move comes amid a political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who came to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy.

Leaders of Indiana’s Republican-dominated Senate on Wednesday proposed banning abortion with limited exceptions — a move that comes amid a political firestorm over a 10-year-old rape victim who came to the state from neighboring Ohio to end her pregnancy.

The proposal will be taken up during a special legislative session that is scheduled to begin Monday, making Indiana one of the first Republican-run states to debate tighter abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

The Indiana proposal would allow exceptions to the ban, such as in cases of rape, incest or to protect a woman’s life. Its fate is uncertain, though, because some hardline Republicans want to ban all abortions.

Ohio’s so-called fetal heartbeat law, which bans abortions after a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected — typically in around the sixth week of pregnancy — led the 10-year-old rape victim to go to Indiana to get a medication-induced abortion on June 30, according to the doctor who performed it.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Leaders of Indiana’s Republican-dominated Senate were set to reveal Wednesday how aggressive they want a special legislative session to go in further restricting abortions as the state has drawn attention over a 10-year-old rape victim who came from Ohio to get an abortion.

Indiana will be among the first Republican-run states to debate tighter abortion laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month overturning Roe v. Wade as legislators return to the Statehouse beginning Monday for a special session that could last three weeks. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Republican lawmakers have pushed through numerous anti-abortion laws over the past decade and the vast majority signed a letter in March supporting a special session on further tightening those laws. But legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb have been tightlipped since the Supreme Court decision over whether they will push for a full abortion ban or allow exceptions, such as in cases of rape, incest or to protect a woman’s life.

Indiana law generally prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with tight restrictions after 13 weeks. Nearly 99% of abortions in the state last year took place at 13 weeks or earlier, according to a state Health Department report.

The leader of the state’s most prominent anti-abortion group told reporters Wednesday it would pressure legislators to advance a bill “that affirms the value of all life including unborn children” while not taking questions on whether any exceptions would be acceptable.

Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said the vast majority of Indiana lawmakers have “campaigned as pro-life, they’ve run multiple election cycles as being pro-life.”

“This is not the time when legislators should be drafting legislation that would appear that Roe versus Wade is still in place,” Fichter said. “Roe is no longer in place. The Roe shield is no longer there.”

Republican Senate leaders were expected Wednesday afternoon to discuss their proposal for abortion restrictions along with another providing “support for new and expectant mothers.”

Democrats have criticized Republicans for meeting privately for weeks over the abortion legislation.

“If anything, what we should be spending our time on is preparing, strengthening our safety net before we began to take away access to abortion care in this state,” said Democratic Sen. Shelli Yoder of Bloomington.

The state’s debate comes as an Indiana doctor has been at the center of a political firestorm after speaking out about a 10-year-old child abuse victim who traveled from Ohio for an abortion.

A 27-year-old man was charged in Columbus, Ohio, last week with raping the girl, confirming the existence of a case initially met with skepticism by some media outlets and Republican politicians. The pushback grew after Democratic President Joe Biden expressed empathy for the girl during the signing of an executive order aimed at protecting some abortion access.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, said she gave the girl a medication-induced abortion on June 30 because the child couldn’t get the procedure in Ohio under a newly imposed state ban on abortions from the time a fetus’ cardiac activity can be detected. A judge lifted a stay on the Ohio ban after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Indiana’s conservative GOP lawmakers have had a history of conflict over social issues. In May, they overrode a veto by Holcomb of a bill that banned transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity.

That came seven years after Indiana faced a national uproar over a religious objections law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence that opponents maintained could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The Republican-dominated Legislature quickly made revisions blocking its use as a legal defense for refusing to provide services and preventing the law from overriding local ordinances with LGBT protections.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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