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Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women’s constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for Americans’ lives after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The court’s overturning of the landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

The ruling, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.

Both sides predicted the fight over abortion would continue, in state capitals, in Washington and at the ballot box. Justice Clarence Thomas, part of Friday’s majority, urged colleagues to overturn other high court rulings protecting same-sex marriage, gay sex and the use of contraceptives.

Pregnant women considering abortions already had been dealing with a near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions after Friday’s decision.

In Ohio, a ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat became the law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the measure on hold for nearly three years. And Utah’s law was triggered by the ruling, going into effect with narrow exceptions.

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Biden vows abortion fight, assails ‘extreme’ court ruling

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Friday he would fight to preserve access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and he called on Americans to elect more Democrats who would safeguard rights upended by the court’s decision. “This is not over,” he declared.

“Let’s be very clear, the health and life of women across this nation are now at risk,” he said from the White House on what he called “a sad day for the court and the country.”

Biden added that “the court has done what it’s never done before — expressly taking away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans.”

Republicans and conservative leaders celebrated the culmination of a decades-long campaign to undo the nationwide legalization of abortion that began with Roe v. Wade in 1973.

“Millions of Americans have spent half a century praying, marching and working toward today’s historic victories for the rule of law and for innocent life,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., an architect of efforts to tilt the Supreme Court to the right.

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Congress sends landmark gun violence compromise to Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House sent President Joe Biden the widest ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades Friday, a measured compromise that at once illustrates progress on the long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists.

The Democratic-led chamber approved the election-year legislation on a mostly party-line 234-193 vote, capping a spurt of action prompted by voters’ revulsion over last month’s mass shootings in New York and Texas. The Senate approved the measure late Thursday by a bipartisan 65-33 margin.

The White House said Biden would sign the bill and deliver remarks on it Saturday morning.

Every House Democrat and 14 Republicans — six of whom won’t be in Congress next year — voted for the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., underscored its significance to her party by taking the unusual step of presiding over the vote and announcing the result from the podium, to huzzahs from rank-and-file Democrats on the chamber’s floor.

Among Republicans backing the legislation was Rep. Liz Cheney of gun-friendly Wyoming, who has broken sharply with her party’s leaders and is helping lead the House investigation into last year’s Capitol insurrection by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. In a statement, she said that “as a mother and a constitutional conservative,” she believed the bill would curb violence and enhance safety, adding: “Nothing in the bill restricts the rights of responsible gun owners. Period.”

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Some US clinics stop doing abortions as ruling takes hold

Abortion bans that were put on the books in some states in the event Roe v. Wade was overturned started automatically taking effect Friday, while clinics elsewhere — including Alabama, Texas and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions for fear of prosecution, sending women away in tears.

“Some patients broke down and could not speak through their sobbing,” said Katie Quinonez, executive director of West Virginia’s lone abortion clinic, whose staff spent the day calling dozens of patients to cancel their appointments. “Some patients were stunned and didn’t know what to say. Some patients did not understand what was happening.”

America was convulsed with anger, joy, fear and confusion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The canyon-like divide across the U.S. over the right to terminate a pregnancy was on full display, with abortion rights supporters calling it a dark day in history, while abortion foes welcomed the ruling as the answer to their prayers.

Women who traveled across state lines to end a pregnancy found themselves immediately thwarted in some places as abortions were halted as a result of state laws that were triggered by the court decision or confusion over when those laws would take effect.

In eliminating the constitutional right to abortion that has stood for a half-century, the high court left the politically charged issue up to the states, about half of which are now likely to ban the procedure.

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With Roe over, some fear rollback of LGBTQ and other rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to ban abortion stirred alarm Friday among LGBTQ advocates, who feared that the ruling could someday allow a rollback of legal protections for gay relationships, including the right for same-sex couples to marry.

In the court’s majority opinion overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Justice Samuel Alito said the decision applied only to abortion. But critics of the court’s conservative majority gave the statement no credence.

“I don’t buy that at all,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and faculty director of its Institute for National and Global Health Law. “It really is much more extreme than the justices are making it out to be.”

He added: “It means that you can’t look to the Supreme Court as an impartial arbiter of constitutional rights because they’re acting more as culture warriors.”

Gostin and others pointed to a separate concurring opinion in which Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should review other precedents, including its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a 2003 decision striking down laws criminalizing gay sex and a 1965 decision declaring that married couples have a right to use contraception.

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How US states have banned, limited or protected abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, although the timing of those laws taking effect varies.

Some Republican-led states will ban or severely limit abortion immediately, while other restrictions will take effect later. At least one state, Texas, is waiting until after the Supreme Court issues its formal judgment in the case, which is separate from the opinion issued Friday and could take about a month.

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.

Here is an overview of abortion legislation and the expected impact of the court’s decision in every state.

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Ukrainian army leaving battered city for fortified positions

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — After weeks of ferocious fighting, Ukrainian forces have begun retreating from a besieged city in the country’s east to move to stronger positions, a regional official said Friday, the four-month mark in Russia’s invasion.

The planned withdrawal from Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, comes after relentless Russian bombardment that has reduced most of the industrial city to rubble and cut its population from 100,0000 to 10,000. Ukrainian troops fought the Russians in house-to-house battles before retreating to the huge Azot chemical factory on the city’s edge, where they remain holed up in its sprawling underground structures in which about 500 civilians also found refuge.

In recent days, Russian forces have made gains around Sievierodonetsk and the neighboring city of Lysychansk, on a steep bank across a river, in a bid to encircle Ukrainian forces.

Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk have been the focal point of the Russian offensive aimed at capturing all of the Donbas and destroying the Ukrainian military defending it — the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces. The two cities and surrounding areas are the last major pockets of Ukrainian resistance in the Luhansk region — 95% of which is under Russian and local separatist forces’ control. The Russians and separatists also control about half of the Donetsk region, the second province in the Donbas.

Russia used its numerical advantages in troops and weapons to pummel Sievierodonetsk in what has become a war of attrition, while Ukraine clamored for better and more weapons from its Western allies. Bridges to the city were destroyed, slowing the Ukrainian military’s ability to resupply, reinforce and evacuate the wounded and others. Much of the city’s electricity, water and communications infrastructure has been destroyed.

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Juul can keep selling e-cigarettes as court blocks FDA ban

Juul can continue to sell its electronic cigarettes, at least for now, after a federal appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked a government ban.

Juul filed an emergency motion earlier Friday, seeking the temporary hold while it appeals the sales ban.

The e-cigarette maker had asked the court to pause what it called an “extraordinary and unlawful action” by the Food and Drug Administration that would have required it to immediately halt its business.

The FDA said Thursday that Juul must stop selling its vaping device and its tobacco and menthol flavored cartridges.

The action was part of a sweeping effort by the agency to bring scientific scrutiny to the multibillion-dollar vaping industry after years of regulatory delays.

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Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines under scrutiny for widespread flight disruptions are renewing their criticism of the government agency that manages the nation’s airspace, saying that understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration is “crippling” traffic along the East Coast.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing plans for the July Fourth holiday weekend, “so we can plan accordingly.”

The comments from the industry group could serve as a pre-emptive defense in case airlines again suffer thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend, when travel is expected to set new pandemic-era highs.

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,” Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group, said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Calio said airlines have dropped 15% of the flights they originally planned for June through August to make the remaining flights more reliable, they are hiring and training more pilots and customer-service agents, and giving passengers more flexibility to change travel plans.

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At LGBTQ Pride, celebration but also worry over civil rights

NEW YORK (AP) — LGBTQ Pride commemorations that sometimes have felt like victory parties for civil rights gains are now grappling with an environment of ramped-up legislative and rhetorical battles over sexual orientation and gender identity, and fears that a Supreme Court ruling on abortion opens the door to rights being taken away.

Big crowds are expected Sunday at Pride events in New York City and a range of other places including San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and Toronto, in a return to large, in-person events after two years of pandemic-induced restrictions.

Like every year, the celebrations are expected to be exuberant and festive. But for many, they will also carry a renewed sense of urgency and concern.

“There are so many anti-LGBTQ attacks going on around the country, and a lot of them are really about trying to erase our existence and to make us invisible, and to make our young people invisible and our elders invisible,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, which advocates for LGBTQ elders.

Extremists have taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Pride events, including plotting an attack against a march in Idaho, while conservative state governments has proposed and in some cases passed a slew of anti-LGBTQ legislation.