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Kansas Senate approves proposed ban on abortion procedure

National right to life committeeA national group's push to outlaw and redefine as "dismemberment" a procedure commonly used in second trimester abortions advanced Friday in Kansas, with the state Senate's approval of what could become the nation's first ban of the practice.

The bill approved on a 31-9 vote is model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee as part of its long-running efforts to restrict abortion incrementally. The group first unveiled the proposal in Kansas last month, but similar legislation is pending in other states, including Missouri and Oklahoma.


Alleged victim in Illinois imam sex abuse case speaks out

Imam charged with sex abuseFollowing the arrest earlier this week of a prominent Illinois imam accused of sexual abuse, one of his alleged victims is speaking out about the ordeal she says was suffered at the hands of Mohammad Abdullah Saleem.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the alleged victim told of how she was at first honored to meet the respected imam, but ended up “terrified” to be in his presence.


D.C. rabbi pleads guilty to secretly videotaping women

Rabbi pleads guilty to photographing nude womenThursday that he had secretly videotaped dozens of nude women as they prepared for a ritual bath.

In a hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Freundel pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism.

Prior to the hearing, D.C. prosecutors sent a note to victims saying that they wanted to “assure everyone that if this plea goes through, as victims of crime, you will have the right to submit a written as well as an oral victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing, expressing how this crime has impacted you.” Freundel’s sentencing hearing is set for May 15.


Texas Blocks Future Same-Sex Weddings

Texas blocks same sex marriageThe Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency order blocking gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses after a lesbian couple wed in Austin.

Thursday's ruling doesn't invalidate the marriage of the two women who were allowed to marry hours earlier based on a one-time court order issued for health reasons. One of the women has cancer.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he is seeking to void the marriage license through other means, though he didn't provide details.


Pediatrician won't treat baby with 2 moms

Pediatrician refuses to treat baby with 2 momsSitting in the pediatrician's office with their 6-day-old daughter, the two moms couldn't wait to meet the doctor they had picked out months before.

The Roseville, Mich., pediatrician — one of many they had interviewed — seemed the perfect fit: She took a holistic approach to treating children. She used natural oils and probiotics. And she knew they were lesbians.


University of Massachusetts bans Iranian students from select STEM degrees

U of Mass. bars Iranian students from some degreesThe University of Massachusetts Amherst is not accepting Iranian applicants into its graduate school in select science and engineering fields, citing U.S. sanctions.

The university posted the policy on its website for graduate admissions.

The University has determined that recent governmental sanctions pose a significant challenge to its ability to provide a full program of education and research for Iranian students in certain disciplines and programs. Because we must ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the University has determined that it will no longer admit Iranian national students to specific programs in the College of Engineering (i.e., Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) and in the College of Natural Sciences (i.e., Physics, Chemistry, Microbiology, and Polymer Science & Engineering) effective February 1, 2015.


Florida puts executions on hold as high court debates anesthetic

Florida executions on holdFlorida's highest court put executions on hold Tuesday while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether use of a controversial general anesthetic constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment of condemned killers.

The state Supreme Court stopped the execution of Jerry William Correll next week because the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge some Oklahoma inmates brought against use of midazolam hydrochloride as the first of three drugs used in lethal injections. Florida uses essentially the same formula, the court said in a 5-2 ruling.


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