Federal court strikes down Arizona ban on abortion after 20 weeks


A federal court on Tuesday struck down Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, absent a medical emergency.

The 9th US circuit court of appeals said the law violated a woman’s constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a foetus is able to survive outside the womb. “Viability” of a foetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks; normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks. Nine other states have enacted similar bans, starting at 20 weeks or earlier. Several of those bans have been placed on hold or struck down by other courts.

Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based court, said such bans before viability violated a long string of US Supreme Court rulings starting with the seminal Roe vs Wade decision in 1973. The judge wrote that “a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the foetus is viable”.

“The challenged Arizona statute’s medical emergency exception does not transform the law from a prohibition on abortion into a regulation of abortion procedure,” Berzon wrote. “Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term.”

Cathi Herrod, the head of a Christian social conservative group that championed the 2012 legislation, said the ruling – blah, blah, blah…

Janet Creppe, a lawyer who argued against the ban in court for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Tuesday’s ruling affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion before viability. “These laws are all unconstitutional,” she said. “This is not a close legal question at all. These laws are unconstitutional.”

The most significant ethical practice dealing with attempts to reverse Roe v. Wade after all these years? Fundamentalist Christians and conservatives alike are devout liars.

They are afraid to confront the reality of their backwardness head-on because they know the courts will rule against patently anti-science ideology. So, they gather together in klaverns to conspire against a woman’s freedom to direct her own life by constructing convoluted rationales designed to confuse the ignorant – and TV talking heads who apparently believe what lying politicians say is news.

Oklahoma Senator won’t support tornado aid without budget cuts

Sculpture of Tom Coburn’s heart – Click to enlarge

The tornado that hit Oklahoma on Monday resulted in more than 20 deaths and is expected to cost the federal government untold billions of dollars in aid and recovery. But Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has long objected to federal funds being spent on everything from veterans benefits to relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, is already insisting that any additional appropriations should be paid for with cuts elsewhere. “That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Coburn spokesman John Hart said. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”

Indeed, during his time in Congress, Coburn has portrayed his efforts to rein in federal spending as a principled stance against accumulating larger deficits and passing debt to future generations. But Coburn hasn’t always opposed government spending that is not offset by budget cuts. The senator known as “Doctor No” has voted to fund the war in Iraq, the 2008 bank bail out, and even relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina…

By insisting that funding for tornado relief be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, Coburn is representing his ideological purity rather than the needs of his Oklahoma constituents.

People who care more for dollars than human beings are worth about as much to our society as fossilized pig excrement. Homeboys may be dumb enough to vote for them – but, they still don’t deserve greedy bastards like Coburn representing them in Congress.

Coburn and his ideology are a waste of space on the face of the Earth. He is a symptom of just how incompetent our 2-party system has gotten – when all that results from a choice of two is one more louse on the pimply butt that is the United States Congress.

Malaria parasite lures mosquitoes to human odour

All mosquitoes are attracted to human body odour, but the malaria parasite could be making the insects better at sniffing us out
Mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite are more attracted to human body odour than uninfected insects, a study suggests.

Researchers found that infected insects were three times more likely to be lured towards a human scent.

They believe that the deadly parasites are seizing control of their biting hosts and boosting their sense of smell…

To carry out the study, the researchers infected malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae) with the most deadly form of parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

They placed about 100 of the infected insects into a container, along with some nylon stockings that had been previously worn by volunteers for 20 hours…”It is a very effective way of collecting body odour… the odour can remain attractive for months,” explained Dr James Logan.

The scientists repeated the experiment with uninfected insects.

They found that mosquitoes carrying the deadly parasite were three times more likely to be attracted to the smelly stockings.

The scientists believe this is because the tiny parasitic organisms are manipulating their hosts’ sense of smell…Dr Logan said: “We think it is giving them a heightened sense of smell. We are hypothesising there is an alteration somewhere in their olfactory system that allows them to find us quicker.”

By making humans an easier target, the parasite is more likely to be passed into the blood stream – ensuring its survival and continuing the spread of the deadly disease.

The researchers will now begin a three-year project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to learn more about how the parasites are doing this.

With a finite quantity of funding available, it’s worth focusing on a disease like malaria that kills and maims people by the thousands. Yes, there are many other ailments, deadly ailments hampering life for all on this planet of ours. It would be great if policymakers and pundits in charge of national treasuries considered life on Earth a higher priority than death and destruction. Until that changes, we do what we can with what we can afford.

Deal struck to move gay marriage bill forward in UK Parliament

Plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales are to proceed unimpeded in Parliament after ministers reached agreement with Labour…MPs backed a Labour plan to consult on changing civil partnerships – a move criticised by some Tory MPs.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Maria Miller thanked other parties for their “unwavering support” for the principles of the same-sex Marriage Bill and said a review of civil partnerships could take place “very swiftly”.

Labour said the review could potentially take place within the next few months – enabling its findings to be reflected in the final legislation…

MPs gave their support in principle to gay marriage in February but are now discussing proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday amid calls from some Conservatives for the government to focus on other priorities.

The bill is being debated over two days, with its third reading – the final hurdle in the Commons – on Tuesday. If approved, it will go to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where it is expected to face further opposition.

David Cameron has said equal marriage would help build a stronger and fairer society but nearly half of all Tories voted against it in February and many party activists remain deeply opposed to it in principle…

It does’t seem to matter which Western nation moves forward on civil rights for all. There always are conservatives who apparently feel equal opportunities for all somehow diminishes their tiny little lives.

While failing in their attempts to amend the legislation in any form, Conservative MPs voiced their concerns in large numbers on a range of issues. Blah, blah, blah.

Stonewall, which campaigns for equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, said it would be a “terrible pity” if the legislation got “bogged down” and urged MPs from all parties not to “play politics” with it.

Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law.

Other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies. There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland, but there are already plans for a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland.

The UK debate comes the week after France became the ninth European country, and 14th in the world, to legalise gay marriage. Earlier this month Rhode Island became the 10th US state to allow same-sex marriages.

I wonder if the United States will join the ranks of nations with full civil rights, say, below number 50?