A jury Monday found a Philadelphia abortion provider guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was accused of killing babies by using scissors to cut their spinal cords. Authorities alleged that some of the infants were born alive and viable during the sixth, seventh and eighth months of pregnancy.
Monday's first-degree murder conviction means Gosnell, who is not a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist, could be sentenced to death.
Gosnell also was accused in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion at his West Philadelphia clinic. In that case, the jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Gosnell was also found guilty of 21 counts of abortion of the unborn, 24 weeks or older.
In Pennsylvania, abortions past 24 weeks are illegal unless the health of the mother is at stake.FULL STORY
An inquest into the death of an Indian dentist in Ireland after she was reportedly denied an abortion for her miscarrying fetus is due to open Monday in Galway.
The death of Savita Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway on October 28, 2012, prompted anger in Ireland and elsewhere, and sparked demands for Ireland to introduce new abortion laws.
The Halappanavar family says Savita died of blood poisoning after doctors declined to abort her miscarrying fetus because of Ireland's strict laws. Her husband says she was advised her unborn baby would likely die.
Praveen Halappanavar says his wife, who was in extreme pain, asked for the abortion, but was told that Ireland is a Catholic country and an abortion could not be done while the fetus was alive.
More details may emerge at Monday's hearing into the events leading to the 31-year-old's death.FULL STORY
What is being called the nation's toughest anti-abortion measure was signed into law on Tuesday by North Dakota's governor. The law bans most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected, which is at about six weeks.
The law sets the stage for an almost guaranteed legal showdown, with proponents saying the law is intended to test the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.
"Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement.FULL STORY
Overriding a veto by Arkansas' Democratic governor, the state's Republican-controlled House and Senate approved a bill to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy - the most restrictive such law in the country.
Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill Monday, saying it "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court."
But on Wednesday, the Arkansas House voted 56-33 to override the veto, following a 20-14 override vote a day earlier in the state Senate.FULL STORY
Uruguay's senate passed a bill Wednesday that would legalize abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Leftist President Jose Mujica has said he will sign the bill into law, which will make it the latest in a number of laws in the region that go against the grain of the traditionally very Catholic, socially conservative Latin America.
Most countries in Latin America allow abortion only in cases of rape, incest, to save a woman's life, or when a fetus is malformed. Uruguay would become just the second Latin American country where abortion is legal on request.
The bill sparked heated debate in the South American country. The senate passed the bill by a 17-14 vote. The lower legislative house in August passed it by a 50-49 vote after a 16-hour session.FULL STORY
[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] A ship filled with activists who say they are there to help women receive abortions was escorted out of the Moroccan port of Smir after the government initially blocked the harbor and prevented residents from accessing the vessel.
Abortion is illegal in Morocco, and the country's Health Ministry said in a statement that it had not authorized the vessel's visit or any procedures by nonresident doctors.
The "abortion ship" is run by Women on Waves, which was founded in 1999 by a Dutch doctor to provide abortions to women in countries where the practice is illegal.
The Women on Waves ship takes women into international waters to perform the abortions, which are legal under Dutch law, until 6.5 weeks into the pregnancy.
But authorities in the predominantly Muslim country seemed to effectively block the activists efforts on Thursday.
Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.
Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, caused a firestorm of controversy because of his remarks about "legitimate rape" and opposing abortion in rape cases. Akin has since apologized, but readers of all political persuasions seemed mostly unified in opposition to Akin's remarks; they tended to differ much more when talking about what those words actually mean politically.
Mark Ivy, who describes himself as an independent who plans to vote for Mitt Romney, said he believes Akin should bow out of his senatorial race.
"We need people who can judge what is fact from fiction, no matter one's personal ideology," he said via e-mail. "We need people who can tell that if it is raining you take an umbrella when you go out."
His CNN iReport video commentary riffed off Missouri's oft-debated "Show Me State" nickname, which the Missouri Secretary of State website defines as the "stalwart, conservative, noncredulous character of Missourians." His strong stance attracted several commenters, including CKThompson, below.
k3vsdad: "While many are seeing this as a discussion on abortion, to me it is rather a question of judgment and common sense. The congressman, who is standing his ground and vowing to stay in the race, is to me a failure on two very important concerns that voters in the Show Me State should be focusing.
"Show me good judgment – Akin in his remarks fails on this.
"Show me common sense – Akin fails on this as well."
CKThompson: "There is no defending his statement in this case ... it was completely absurd. But to eliminate him as a viable candidate because of an absurd statement is, in itself, absurd. As I said on another iReport, if we eliminated every politician who said something stupid during a campaign, every capitol and statehouse would be empty."
But then we found Ivy becoming the commenter on another video commentary iReport from Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas. Willies said he believes many evangelicals are "comfortable with" Akin's views, and added that he also sees a "war against women" welling up in portions of the Republican Party.
"Akin's comments were backward, offensive, and showed a complete disregard for women," Willies said. That got a response from several commenters, including Ivy. FULL POST
Doctors at Mississippi's sole abortion clinic are allowed to continue performing the procedure, even if they do not have admitting and staff privileges at an area hospital, as required by a new state law, a federal judge ruled Friday.
But state officials can begin an administrative process that could ultimately lead to the closing of the clinic, said U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III.
The law took effect July 1 and requires all abortion providers in Mississippi to be certified obstetrician/gynecologists with privileges at local hospitals. Doctors at Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion provider in the state, come in from other states, and only one of its doctors is authorized to practice at a nearby hospital.
Supporters of the new law say it is intended to protect women from unscrupulous practitioners, but others say it's part of a move to outlaw abortions in the state.
As members of Georgia’s House of Representatives debate whether to prohibit abortions for women more than 20 weeks pregnant, House Democrats introduced their own reproductive rights plan: No more vasectomies that leave "thousands of children ... deprived of birth."
Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro, planned on Wednesday to introduce HB 1116, which would prevent men from vasectomies unless needed to avert serious injury or death.
The bill reads: "It is patently unfair that men avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly. ... It is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men."
“If we legislate women’s bodies, it’s only fair that we legislate men’s,” said Neal, who said she wanted to write bill that would generate emotion and conversation the way anti-abortion bills do. “There are too many problems in the state. Why are you under the skirts of women? I’m sure there are other places to be."
Personally, Neal said, she has no qualms with vasectomies.
“But even if it were proposed as a serious issue,” she said, “it’s still not my place as a woman to tell a man what to do with his body."
Karen Handel, a vice president with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, resigned her position Tuesday following a controversy over funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, the foundation said.
Komen last week initially said it was going to stop its Planned Parenthood funding, which Planned Parenthood said largely paid for breast exams at local centers. But Komen reversed the decision on Friday after facing pressure from lawmakers and internal dissent.
Handel, the foundation's vice president for public policy, opposes abortion, which is a service that Planned Parenthood provides. Handel was the driving force behind the foundation's decision not to renew parts of its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood, the Huffington Post reported earlier this week after reviewing internal e-mails at the foundation.FULL STORY
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
One of the most talked-about stories this week has been about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's earlier decision not to renew part of its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood. The foundation has now reversed its decision, much to the applause of some of our readers.
This reader, who said he is a doctor, wrote that he supported this decision.
RationalDoc: "As a primary care physician, I am proud of the Komen organization for their correct decision to continue to support the preventive women's health services that are provided by Planned Parenthood. Too many misinformed people mistakenly demonize Planned Parenthood, as 98% of the services they provide are preventive health services including cancer screening and birth control for women, often lower income women with limited access to health care, and only 2% of their services are abortion-related, and no federal money is used for that small part of what they do. Planned Parenthood prevents unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the need for abortion, a more positive impact on our attempts to reduce abortion than anything the vigilante anti-abortion people have done. In fact, many of the anti-abortion people are also against sex education in schools. Go figure."
Another reader said they were wondering about the system in place for health care service funding.
lalizzie: "While I disagree with the Komen foundation's original decision to repeal funding to Planned Parenthood, it is totally within their rights as a nonprofit to decide which causes it would like to fund. This whole fiasco also begs the broader question; should we be relying on nonprofit organizations like Komen to fund public health services?"
But this person said the decision is within Komen's rights.
weissdog: "Yet another example of how abortion is politicized. Why shouldn't Komen be able to support what and whom they want? They are not a taxpayer subsidized organization and are not a government entity. Why does anyone other than their leadership have any say here?"
This reader said Planned Parenthood helped their family. FULL POST
The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed a controversial decision not to renew funding for Planned Parenthood projects for breast cancer screenings, the group said in a statement Friday.
"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," the group said.
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities," the group said.
The announcement comes three days after Komen, a group supporting breast cancer research, said it would stop the funding, saying that it decided it would no longer fund groups under federal investigation. Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions.
But on Friday, Komen said that it would "amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
"Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process," the group said.
Some Planned Parenthood supporters had alleged the decision to withhold funding also had to do with abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."
In Washington, at least 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter calling on Komen to reconsider its decision.
CREDO, which describes itself as the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, said Thursday that 250,000 of its members had signed a petition urging the Komen foundation to reverse its decision.
"The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood," the organization said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, making up about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.FULL STORY
Editor's note: This is part of an occasional "Reads You Need" series featuring some of the diverse voices from our site and across the Web on the stories causing ripples throughout the news sphere.
Over the last two days, columnists, advocacy groups and editorial boards have had plenty to say about Tuesday's announcement that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation would stop sending funds to Planned Parenthood for breast exams.
The move by the breast cancer research group came after Congress in September began investigating whether Planned Parenthood, a prominent family planning organization, illegally used federal funds to provide abortions. The Komen foundation has indicated that because it adopted a new policy preventing it from giving money to groups that the government is investigating, it can't continue funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood.
"Grant making decisions are not about politics – our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women," the foundation said on its Facebook page.
Some Planned Parenthood supporters have alleged the move is less about investigation and more about abortion. Anti-abortion advocates around the country had questioned the Komen foundation about its grants for months, prompting the foundation to release a statement last year saying that "Komen funding is used exclusively to provide breast cancer programs."
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen Foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. In the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, comprising about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.
At least one Komen affiliate might keep sending money, and Planned Parenthood says its fundraising has spiked since the national Komen foundation made its announcement.
Here are a few takes from around the country:
Komen attacks abortion rights
The Baltimore Sun's editorial board says Komen's decision puts "women's health at risk by denying breast cancer screening funds to Planned Parenthood on questionable grounds."
"Has Komen adopted an anti-abortion stance, too? Given the obvious political motivations behind the (congressional) investigation, it's hard not to see the decision as announcing that. According to Planned Parenthood, Komen is the first private organization to withdraw funding on the grounds of the congressional investigation. One can only assume that this outcome, if it stands, will motivate Congress to pursue all sorts of investigations against all sorts of controversial organizations.
That has to be greatly upsetting to many people who have participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure ... . Quite a few have probably written their share of checks to Planned Parenthood to not only support women's right to choose but basic family planning and cancer-screening services.
Breast cancer can strike anyone, including those who avail themselves of contraception. Shame on Komen for succumbing to pressure from anti-abortion groups and risking the health of the very women for whom they claim to advocate."
The secretary of Health and Human Services overruled Wednesday a Food and Drug Administration recommendation that would have made the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B One-Step available over the counter to girls younger than 17.
In February, Teva Woman's Health Inc, the drug maker, had asked the FDA to make the drug available without prescription to all sexually active girls and women.
At the time, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said that, after reviewing all relevant data, "Plan B One Step is safe and effective and should be approved for non-prescription use for all females of child-bearing potential."
But HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled that recommendation. "Because I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application ... I have directed FDA to issue a complete response letter denying the supplemental new drug application," she said in a statement.
In July 2009, Plan B was approved for use without a prescription for females aged 17 and older, but girls under 17 needed a prescription.
Emergency contraceptives prevent a pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus. They are intended for use within 72 hours after sex, but are most effective if taken within 24 hours. Proponents say requiring a prescription can delay access to the drug.
Wednesday's decision was criticized by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which counts more than 8,000 members.
"We are very disappointed that Secretary Sebelius opted to insert herself into what should be a scientific decision made by the experts at FDA," said the group's president, Dolores J. Lamb. "The data are clear that emergency contraception can be safely used by adolescent women without requiring a prescription. Sadly, it appears that once again our leaders are putting political expediency ahead of reproductive health."
But Dr. Lisa Flowers, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University's School of Medicine, said Sebelius' decision "might be the right thing to do until we get a really good system by which we can educate young kids about prevention of pregnancy and understanding the risks of getting involved in sexual intercourse, and what are the outcomes."
Flowers suggested the FDA consider allowing over-the-counter access for girls under the age of 17 if they are accompanied by a parent to the drugstore.
In the weeks leading up to Mississippi's vote on whether to declare a fertilized egg a person and grant it full rights, nearly everyone was saying the measure was sure to pass.
It was considered the perfect place to mount what could have been a historic challenge to abortion laws: After all, Mississippi is the most anti-abortion, religious and conservative state, according to a Gallup Poll. It was supposed to give a boost to the nationwide movement of the Colorado-based nonprofit Christian group Personhood USA, which is attempting to get the measure on the ballot in several other states.
The measure had all of the momentum within the state, with both the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor endorsing it.
So what exactly happened?
There were a few theories floating around Wednesday morning after the measure was defeated. (The Clarion-Ledger said with 96% of precincts reporting, the vote was 58% to 42% against the measure.)
1) People began asking questions about the language of the amendment.
Many of those opposing the bill who spoke to CNN said there simply had not been enough discussion about what the amendment would actually do. Women we spoke to said they felt this was government overreaching to begin with, but they weren't even sure how far-reaching it would be because the language was so ambiguous.
They wanted to know: What are the implications? What will it mean for women's reproductive rights? What does it mean about the decisions a woman can make with her doctor? Will it mean women will be at the mercy of the state when it comes to everything from taking certain birth control pills to trying to conceive if a couple is infertile? What happens to those fertilized eggs for IVF treatments if they aren't used? And would people be facing prosecution if they did any of those things?
Certainly, as opponents suggested, the vague language of the bill and the unknown implications could have been part of what swayed voters.
Many of those questions were dismissed by those in support of the bill, saying they were merely scare tactics. All they were trying to do was give equal rights to the unborn, supporters said, the same ones afforded to the mother.
Comment of the morning:
“Wouldn't creating a life through in vitro fertilization be ‘pro-life?' ” – centrisright
Voters in Mississippi on Tuesday will face one of the most controversial measures on ballots nationwide. Mississippians will vote on whether to amend the state constitution to define life as beginning at conception, which would eliminate abortion, including in the cases of rape and incest. Initiative 26 would define "personhood" as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." The measure would also outlaw certain forms of birth control and the destruction of embryos in laboratories, putting in vitro fertilization procedures in question because of the resulting unused fertilized eggs.
CNN.com readers were largely against the measure.
EurekaJim said, “Yup. The party of ‘less government" except when they want the government to do something they want it to do.”
ovipconsult said, “Mississippi being the poorest (or at least one of the poorest states) with one of the highest unemployment rate in the country, and many still live in poverty ... and abortion is what they really care about? My goodness. Politicians should just go hide in the cave. Judges ... should just be removed if they want to control women's productive organs.”
BubbaJ said, “Eliminating abortion, Social Security and Medicare are their primary goals. They have become the party of ‘100% support for life ... when it's a fetus. Once it's out, it's on its own."
With the first 2012 presidential primaries and caucuses less than nine months away, three issues are stoking political fires this week: immigration, abortion and presidential birthplaces.
Immigration and abortion have long been front and center in political debate, but the "birther" issue emerged in the 2008 election, as opponents of President Barack Obama questioned whether he was born in Hawaii. The Constitution stipulates that a president must be a U.S. citizen by birth.
Stoking that debate, Arizona's Legislature on Thursday night passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they meet the birth requirement before their names can be placed on the state's ballot. Thursday's vote was 40-16 in the state House. The bill goes to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.
The "birther" allegations against Obama have been repeatedly discredited in investigations by CNN and other organizations.
Philadelphia prosecutors say they may seek the death penalty against abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with murder after allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions at a dirty facility.
Authorities allege that some of the infants were born viable and alive during the sixth, seventh and eighth months of pregnancy and then were killed with scissors, which were used to cut their spinal cords.
Gosnell, 70, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and a 41-year-old woman.FULL STORY
Six people were killed and 14 others wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, when a gunman opened fire in front of a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona, authorities said. The congresswoman had been hosting a meeting with constituents Saturday morning when the attack began.
Here are the latest developments as confirmed by CNN:
[Updated at 8:19 p.m.] President Barack Obama will travel to Tucson on Wednesday, and likely will attend a memorial service and visit with the relatives of the shooting victims, many of whom he already has spoken to by phone, two senior administration officials tell CNN.
[Updated at 4:33 p.m.] Suspect Jared Lee Loughner has made a 15-minute initial appearance in a federal court in Phoenix. A judge asked Loughner whether he understood the charges - attempted assassination of a member of Congress; two counts of murder for the deaths of Judge John Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman; and two counts of attempted murder. Loughner replied that he understood.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 24.
[Updated at 2:23 p.m.] Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, sent an email the night before she was shot at an event in Tucson calling for a more civil tone in politics.
Giffords offered congratulations to Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, after he was named Director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics on Friday.
"After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation," Giffords wrote in the email, provided to CNN by Grayson. "I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
[Updated at 12:43 p.m.] Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro weighed in on the Arizona mass shooting that killed six and injured 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a column distributed Monday.
[Updated at 12:15 p.m.] Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition but her condition has stabilized, doctors at Tucson's University Medical Center indicated Monday.
"We're not out of the woods yet" but are optimistic about her prospects of recovery, said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery.
[Updated at 12:03 p.m.] Two patients from Saturday's shooting have been discharged and only two remain in intensive care, the chief of the department of surgery at Tucson's University Medical Center announced Monday.
Eight patients remain at Tucson's University Medical Center, Chief of Emergency Medicine Peter Rhee announced Monday. Five are in serious condition, two are in good condition, and one is in critical condition, Rhee said.
[Updated at 7:56 p.m.] The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's vetoes and pass two strong anti-abortion measures.
One law requires women to undergo an ultrasound examination and listen to a description of what it shows before getting an abortion.
Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, a Republican, said Tuesday's vote shows lawmakers listened to Oklahoma's citizens and "made a bold statement in support of the sanctity of life."
But Democratic Gov. Brad Henry has called the legislation "an unconstitutional attempt by the Oklahoma legislature to insert government into the private lives and decisions of its citizens."
Henry vetoed the bill and another abortion-related measure Friday, but the state House on Monday overwhelmingly voted to override both vetoes, with House Speaker Chris Benge, a Republican, lauding his colleagues for "moving quickly." The Senate's 36-12 vote Tuesday was the final step required to make the bills laws.