NEW YORK

Three courts hear federal abortion ban cases

The federal ban on a type of late abortion was challenged in
three courtrooms across the nation yesterday as abortion-rights
activists argued that the law is so broad it infringes on
women’s basic right to choose.

The Bush administration argued in defense of the law that
fetuses feel pain during such “inhumane”
procedures.

The law, signed in November by President Bush, has not been
enforced because judges in New York, Lincoln, Neb., and San
Francisco agreed to hear evidence in three separate trials before
deciding whether it violates the Constitution.

The law is the first substantial limitation on abortion since
the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The
current cases also appear likely to reach the high court.

Attorney A. Stephen Hut Jr., speaking for the plaintiffs, argued
that the law “in its stunning breadth would … remove the
range of abortion alternatives available to women in the second
trimester.” He cautioned that the evidence will include
“very raw stuff” and that descriptions of surgery were
“not for the faint of heart.”

 

BOSTON

Lawmakers move toward gay marriage ban

The Massachusetts Legislature gave final approval — for
this year — to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay
marriage but legalize civil unions, taking the first decisive step
toward stripping same-sex couples of court-mandated marriage
rights.

Within moments of yesterday’s 105 to 92 vote, Gov. Mitt
Romney said he would ask the state’s highest court to delay
implementation of its November ruling that ordered same-sex
marriages to begin taking place as of May 17. He said he will seek
a formal stay until the constitutional amendment process is
complete.

The vote, which must be affirmed again during the next two-year
session and by voters in the fall of 2006, completes the
Legislature’s action on gay marriage for the year. Without action
from the court, yesterday’s decision will not affect the May
17 deadline. If the amendment is approved by voters, Massachusetts
would join Vermont in offering same-sex couples the chance to join
in civil unions.

The amendment’s approval brought a roar from activists on
both sides of the debate, who packed the Statehouse to watch the
proceedings.

 

WASHINGTON

NATO inaugurates seven new members

President Bush welcomed seven former Soviet-bloc nations into
NATO yesterday, saying the 55-year old Western alliance would be
strengthened because “tyranny for them is still a fresh
memory.”

The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to 26
members was celebrated as NATO signaled a willingness to play a
military role in Iraq if authorized by a new U.N. Security Council
resolution.

Standing with prime ministers in a ceremony on the South Lawn of
the White House, Bush said the new members “earned their
freedom through courage and perseverance, and today they stand with
us as full and equal partners in this great alliance.”

Joining Bush were the leaders of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

 

MADRID, Spain

Two more charged for Spain bombings

A Spanish judge charged two more suspects in the Madrid bombings
early yesterday as the incoming Socialist government, facing
international pressure over plans to withdraw troops from Iraq,
doubled its deployment to Afghanistan.

Judge Juan del Olmo charged Basel Ghayoun, a Syrian, with mass
killings in the March 11 bombings that left at least 190 people
dead. The judge also charged Morrocan Hamed Ahmidam with
collaborating with a terrorist organization.

At the same time, the judge released three suspects after
questioning. Of the 21 people arrested, 14 have been charged, six
have been released and one has not been publicly identified or
appeared in court.

 

Jury dispute almost causes Tyco mistrial

An uproar over an apparently pro-defense holdout on the jury
brought the grand-larceny case against two former Tyco executives
dangerously close to a mistrial yesterday before the judge sent the
jurors back into deliberations.

“It seems to me that it would be inappropriate to declare
a mistrial when all 12 jurors, who have devoted six months of their
lives to this trial, are prepared to continue,” Judge Michael
Obus said in denying a defense request for a mistrial.

Obus said he had spoken with the juror, a 79-year-old woman, and
she assured him that “nothing that has happened will, from
her point of view, prevent her from deliberating in good conscience
with the other jurors.”

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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