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  NARAL Pro-Choice America Releases National Status Report On Women'S Reproductive Rights In U.S.January 31, 2007 13:43 NARAL Pro-Choice America earlier this month released its 16th annual "Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States" report, issuing failing grades to 19 states for enacting legislation to restrict access to abortion and other reproductive health services, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to the report, 13 states received a A+, A or A- grade; four states received a B+, B or B- grade; six states were given a C+, C or C-; and nine states were given a D+, D or D- (CQ HealthBeat, 1/30). California and Washington were the only states to receive an A+, while Louisiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania rated worst (Ms. Magazine, 1/19). According to a NARAL Pro-Choice America release, state legislatures in 2006 considered 470 measures that favored abortion rights and 650 measures that restricted abortion rights, a 6% increase from 2005 (NARAL Pro-Choice America release, 1/19). According to the report, 21 states enacted 56 abortion-rights measures -- nine of which emphasized pregnancy prevention (Ms. Magazine, 1/19). Seventeen states enacted 45 measures that restrict abortion rights, a 22% decrease from 2005. The report includes a section on federal legislation, along with new political findings and a "year in review." Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "Events in 2006 have altered the future political landscape for choice. On Nov. 7 Americans reaffirmed their commitment to a woman's right to choose by electing pro-choice candidates and defeating anti-choice ballot measures across the country." She added, "One election cycle cannot change everything, but ... by working together and acting on our values, we can lay the foundation for a future in which privacy and freedom are protected."
  If You Drink, Some Cabbies Won't DriveJanuary 25, 2007 23:04 We're sorry, but we can't condone this behavior by Minneapolis taxi drivers. If someone - a pharmacist or taxi driver - feels that their job forces them to do things contrary to their religion, then they should change jobs.

It's always interesting to me, that in my own country, I often get assignments where I walk into a room, and everyone looks and sounds different from me. Different language. Different culture. And sometimes, different beliefs.

On this story, I crossed such a threshold.

I stepped into the taxi depot that serves the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport, where drivers sit and wait for their next fare. In this crowded, noisy room, most of the cabbies are Muslims originally from Somalia.

"We're doing a story about the conflict between the cabbies and the airport. The Muslim drivers have been refusing to take passengers carrying alcohol, such as wine or liquor purchased at a duty free shop," I explained.

A group of men gathered around us.

"This is America, we have freedom of religion," says one cabbie. We could see their feelings are intense -- that the issue seems to cut to the core of their identity.

"The Metropolitan Airport Commission is discriminating against us Muslim drivers," says Abdulkaddir Adan, a Somalian-American who's been driving a cab in the Twin Cities for two years.

We asked Adan if he'd give us a ride, and let us interview him while he was driving. He agreed. CNN Photojournalist Derek Davis set up a "lipstick" cam, a small camera, positioned on the dashboard.

From the back seat, I asked why Adan would object if I were carrying alcohol.

"The one who drinks, the one who transports, and the one who makes a business of it, they have the same category," he said.
  History Of Abortion Law In KansasJanuary 21, 2007 13:32 At one point in the 1970s, more than 50 Kansas hospitals offered elective abortions. Now, only a handful of clinics do -- one in Wichita and at least three in the Kansas City area. No Wichita hospitals do elective abortions. Medical residents learn how to terminate a nonviable pregnancy during their training, said Wichita obstetrician-gynecologist Travis Stembridge. The same techniques are used for elective abortions. The students also learn to counsel patients about their options. But they do not do elective abortions as part of their medical training.

1700s -- Legal status of abortion in the United States is unclear.

1821 -- Connecticut becomes the first state to restrict abortions, barring them after "quickening," the point at which fetal motion is felt.

1868 -- Kansas makes it illegal to perform an abortion for any reason other than to save a woman's life.

By 1900 -- Abortion is illegal nationwide, except in some cases to save a woman's life. An estimated 700,000 to 800,000 illegal abortions take place annually in the 1950s. At the end of that decade, some groups push for states' abortion laws to take into account the health of the woman or the fetus.

1963 -- A Kansas House committee kills a Senate-approved bill that would allow abortion to save a woman's life, to preserve her from a mental breakdown, in the case of rape or incest, and in instances in which the fetus is severely deformed.

1964 -- Wichita chiropractor Otis Hasty is convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the death of a woman after an alleged abortion.

1967 -- Colorado and California legalize abortion. Several other states follow in ensuing years.

July 1, 1970 -- Kansas' revised abortion law goes into effect. It allows abortions not only to save the life of a woman, but also for a woman's physical or mental health, in cases of rape or incest, or when the fetus would be born with physical or mental defect. The first year after the law goes into effect, Kansas reports 8,540 abortions, the majority received by out-of-state women. Preserving mental health is the reason in 5,634 of the cases.

1973 -- The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, overturns the Texas ban on abortion, saying that abortion is encompassed within the right to privacy. The court divides pregnancy into three trimesters and declares that during the first 13 weeks, the decision should be left up to "the attending physician, in consultation with his patient." The decision gives women across the country the right to abortion.

  Ex-No. 2 Interior Official Target Of Abramoff ProbeJanuary 10, 2007 17:16 The Interior Department's former No. 2 official has been told by federal investigators that he is a target in the Jack Abramoff corruption probe.

J. Steven Griles, former deputy interior secretary during President Bush's first term, was notified by letter and told of possible charges at a meeting last week with Justice Department prosecutors, sources familiar with the probe said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the inquiry continues.

Griles' attorney and a spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Griles has since resumed his work as an energy lobbyist, which he did before joining Interior. It's those ties that were the subject of a host of internal probes while he was at the department.

Also being investigated in relation to the grand jury probe is Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the assistant attorney general who oversees the Justice Department's environment and natural resources division, one of the sources said.
  Former Top U.S. General No Longer Opposes Letting Gays Serve Openly In U.S. MilitaryJanuary 03, 2007 09:24 The U.S. Army general who was Joint Chiefs chairman when the Defense Department adopted its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military says he no longer opposes allowing them to serve openly.

John Shalikashvili, who retired in 1997 after four years as the top U.S. military officer, had argued that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would hurt troop morale and recruitment and undermine the cohesion of combat units. He said he has changed his mind after meeting with gay servicemen.

"These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers," Shalikashvili wrote in an opinion piece in Tuesday's New York Times.

His view could carry weight at a time when advocates of lifting the restriction on gay service members argue that the military, under the strain of fighting two simultaneous wars, can ill-afford to exclude any qualified volunteers.