Tex. abortion restrictions upheld on appeal; Tex. death-row inmates to learn drugs’ maker

March 27
TEXAS
Abortion restrictions are upheld on appeal

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld Texas’s tough new abortion restrictions that shuttered many of the abortion clinics in the state.

A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court judge who said the rules violate the Constitution and serve no medical purpose. In its opinion, the appeals court said the law “on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman.”

Texas lawmakers last year passed some of the toughest restrictions in the United States on when, where and how women may obtain an abortion. The Republican-controlled Legislature required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and placed strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills.

Abortion rights supporters called the measures an attempt to stop abortions in Texas through regulation. Many abortion doctors do not have admitting privileges, and limiting when and where they may prescribe abortion-inducing pills discourages women from choosing that option, they say.

At least a dozen Texas abortion clinics closed after the law took effect.

— Associated Press

Condemned inmates to learn drugs’ maker

A judge ordered Texas prison officials Thursday to disclose the supplier of a new batch of lethal injection drugs to attorneys for two inmates set to be executed, but she stopped short of revealing the identity of the manufacturer to the public.

The ruling by state District Judge Suzanne Covington came after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice argued that threats against execution suppliers are growing. State prison officials have failed in previous attempts to keep information about its execution drug supplier confidential.

On Wednesday, an Oklahoma judge voided that state’s execution law, agreeing with inmates that a “veil of secrecy” preventing them from seeking information about the drugs used in lethal injections violated their rights under the state constitution.

— Associated Press

CALIFORNIA
Former gang leader is accused of crimes

A former gang leader with ties to San Francisco’s Chinatown who was praised for cleaning up his public image after serving more than a decade in prison now faces up to 95 years behind bars on money-laundering and other charges.

The allegations against Raymond Chow — nicknamed “Shrimp Boy” — were outlined in an FBI criminal complaint that names 25 other defendants, including California Sen. Leland Yee and Keith Jackson, Yee’s campaign aide.

Chow, the leader of the San Francisco-based Ghee Kung Tong fraternal organization, had been held up as an example of successful rehabilitation. He is accused of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

Chow and Yee were arrested Wednesday during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. Yee’s attorney, Paul DeMeester, read a letter Thursday that Lee sent to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen informing her that he was dropping out of the race for that office.

— Associated Press

Tornadoes damage homes in northern California: Tornadoes touched down during storms in Northern California, including one twister near Sacramento that damaged a dozen homes and left a path of debris about 300 yards long. Between a dozen and 20 houses suffered roof and fence damage when a tornado hit near Roseville in Placer County shortly after 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, a fire department spokesman said Thursday. No injuries were reported and no residents were displaced.

Mont. woman sentenced for pushing new husband to death: A Montana woman was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison for killing her husband of eight days by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park after they argued over her second thoughts about the marriage. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said he saw no remorse from Jordan Graham, 22, in the killing of Cody Johnson, 25. He also ordered her to pay $17,000 in restitution.

Soldier sentenced in killing of pregnant wife: A military judge in Georgia has sentenced an Army soldier to life in prison with no chance of parole for the 2011 slaying of his pregnant wife, whose death enabled her husband to pocket $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments. Pvt. Isaac Aguigui of Cashmere, Wash., was convicted by a court-martial Thursday of murder and causing the death of his unborn child. Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui was nearly seven months pregnant when she was found dead at their Fort Stewart apartment on July 17, 2011.

— From news services

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