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Alabama’s largest hospital paused in vitro fertilization treatments Wednesday as providers and patients across the state scrambled to assess the impact of a court ruling that said frozen embryos are the legal equivalent of children.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system said in a statement that it must evaluate whether its patients or doctors could face criminal charges or punitive damages for undergoing IVF treatments. “We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF,” the statement from spokeswoman Savannah Koplon read.

Doctors and patients were gripped by a mixture of shock, anxiety and fear as they weighed how to proceed in the wake of the ruling by the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court that put in question the future of IVF.

“Disbelief, denial, all the stages of grief. ... I was stunned,” said Dr. Michael C. Allemand, a reproductive endocrinologist at Alabama Fertility, which provides IVF services.

Allemand said they are having daily discussions about how to proceed. He said IVF is often the best treatment for patients who desperately want a child, and the ruling threatens doctors’ ability to provide that care.

“The moments that our patients are wanting to have by growing their families — Christmas mornings with grandparents, kindergarten, going in the first day of school, with little back-backs— all that stuff is what this is about. Those are the real moments that this ruling could deprive patients of,” he said.

Gabby and Spencer Goidel of Auburn, Alabama, turned to IVF after three miscarriages. The Alabama ruling came down on the same day Gabby began a 10-day series of daily injections ahead of egg retrieval, with the hopes of getting pregnant through IVF next month.

“When I saw this ruling, I got very angry and very hurt that it could potentially stop my cycle. People need to know this is affecting couples — real-life couples who are trying to start families, who are just trying to live the quote, unquote American dream,” Gabby Goidel, 26, said. She said her clinic is continuing to provide treatment for now but is reviewing the situation on a day-by-day basis.

Justices — citing language in the Alabama Constitution that the state recognizes the “rights of the unborn child” — said three couples could sue for wrongful death when their frozen embryos were destroyed in a accident at a storage facility.

“Unborn children are ‘children’ ... without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in Friday’s majority ruling. Mitchell said the court had previously ruled that a fetus killed when a woman is pregnant is covered under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act and nothing excludes “extrauterine children from the Act’s coverage.”

Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker, in a scripture-draped concurring opinion, wrote that, “even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

While the court case centered on whether embryos were covered under the wrongful death of a minor statute, some said treating the embryo as a child — rather than property — could have broader implications and call into question many of the practices of IVF.

“If this is now a person, will we be able to freeze embryos?” Barbara Collura, CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, said.

The fertility clinic and hospital in the Alabama case could ask the court to reconsider the decision or ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the matter if they believe there is a conflict with federal law.


The Supreme Court has scheduled a special session to hear arguments over whether former President Donald Trump is ineligible to be president again and can be kept off the ballot.

The case, to be argued Thursday, stems from a section of the 14th amendment that’s meant to keep former officeholders who “ engaged in insurrection ” from regaining power.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump should be disqualified because of his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump appealed to the nation’s highest court, and both sides agreed that the justices should take up the case and issue a conclusive ruling soon.

The wife of Justice Clarence Thomas urged the reversal of the 2020 election results and then attended the rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Ginni Thomas’ actions have prompted calls for the justice to step aside from the Supreme Court’s consideration of whether Trump should be disqualified from being president again.

But Thomas has ignored the calls and, in any case, the lawyers for the Colorado voters who sued to kick Trump off the ballot haven’t asked for Thomas’ recusal.

The parties and their backers do not split along predictable partisan or ideological lines.

The case has been brought by Trump critics who are registered as Republican and independent voters in Colorado, but organized by a liberal public interest group. The Colorado Supreme Court’s seven justices were entirely appointed by Democrats, though they split 4-3 in ruling against Trump.

Elected Republicans in Washington and around the country, as well as former Republican attorneys general and conservative interest groups have rallied to Trump’s defense. But some of the most vocal proponents of disqualifying Trump under Section 3 are conservative legal theorists. And former Republican governors and members of Congress have filed a friend of the court brief urging that Trump be disqualified.

Numerous scholars who’ve dug into the history of Section 3 think it applies to Trump. But several academics also disagree. Trump blames the cases on President Joe Biden, but his administration has stayed out of the case and some of the lawyers on the case say they’ve been criticized by Biden supporters for filing it.


A Pakistani court convicted former Prime Minister Imran Khan of revealing official secrets on Tuesday and handed him his harshest sentence yet of 10 years — the latest in a slew of legal cases that supporters say are meant to sideline the imprisoned politician just days ahead of parliamentary elections.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in 2022, is not on the ballot because he is already serving a three-year prison term — and more than 150 other cases are still pending against him. The former cricket star nonetheless remains a potent political force because of his grassroots following and anti-establishment rhetoric.

However, Pakistan saw violent demonstrations after Khan’s arrest last year, and authorities have cracked down on the Islamist politician’s supporters and party since then, making them wary of staging new rallies.

The Feb. 8 elections come at a sensitive time in Pakistan, which is mired in an economic crisis that Khan’s successor, Shehbaz Sharif, struggled to manage. Sharif was only able to get a bailout from the International Monetary Fund by agreeing to a substantial increase in tariffs on gas and electricity that led to alarming price hikes on everyday goods and made his party unpopular.

On Tuesday, Khan was convicted in what is popularly known as the cipher case, in which he was accused of exposing state secrets by waving a confidential document at a rally. The document has not been made public but is believed to be diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad.

Khan claimed the document was proof he was being threatened and that his ouster was a U.S. conspiracy, allegedly executed by the military and the government in Pakistan. American and Pakistani officials have denied the claim.

A special court at the prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi where Khan is being held announced the verdict, according to Zulfiqar Bukhari, chief spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI. During the trial, Bukhari said, even some members of Khan’s legal team were denied access to the court. Journalists were also barred from covering the proceedings.

A senior official in the party, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was accused of manipulating the contents of the diplomatic cable to gain political advantage, was also convicted and given a 10-year sentence.


When Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said recently that he was “proud” to have a hand in overturning the abortion protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake took it as a political gift, thinking to herself, “Oh my God, we just won the election.”

It may not be that simple, but as the 2024 race heats up, President Joe Biden’s campaign is betting big on abortion rights as a major driver for Democrats in the election. Republicans are still trying to figure out how to talk about the issue, if at all, and avoid a political backlash.

“A vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a vote to restore Roe, and a vote for Donald Trump is a vote to ban abortion across the country,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager. “These are the stakes in 2024.”

Since Roe was overturned in 2022, voters have pushed back by approving a number of statewide ballot initiatives to preserve or expand the right to abortion. Support for abortion rights drove women to the polls during the 2022 midterm elections, delivering Democrats unexpected success. For many people, the issue took on higher meaning, part of an overarching concern about the future of democracy, according to AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 94,000 voters in the midterm elections.

Democrats have since worked to broaden how they talk to voters about the Supreme Court’s decision, delivered by a conservative majority that included three justices nominated by Trump, and what it means for people’s access to health care and their personal freedoms.

The Biden campaign is launching a nationwide political push this coming week centered on Monday’s 51st anniversary of the 1973 decision that codified abortion rights. Vice President Kamala Harris, the administration’s chief messenger on this, will hold the first event Monday in Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, Biden, Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff head to Virginia for a campaign stop focused on the issue. More events featuring top Democrats in battleground states are also in the works.

The campaign on Sunday released a advertising campaign scheduled to run all week, including during “The Bachelor” season premiere and the NFL conference championships. The spot features Dr. Austin Dennard, an OB-GYN in Texas who had to leave her state to get an abortion when she learned that her baby had a fatal condition called anencephaly.


A jury awarded $148 million in damages on Friday to two former Georgia election workers who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation over lies he spread about them in 2020 that upended their lives with racist threats and harassment.

The damages verdict follows emotional testimony from Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, who tearfully described becoming the target of a false conspiracy theory pushed by Giuliani and other Republicans as they tried to keep then-President Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the jury foreperson read aloud the $75 million award in punitive damages for the women. Moss and Freeman were each awarded another roughly $36 million in other damages.

“Money will never solve all my problems,” Freeman told reporters outside Washington’s federal courthouse after the verdict. “I can never move back into the house that I call home. I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with. I miss my home. I miss my neighbors and I miss my name.”

Giuliani didn’t appear to show any emotion as the verdict was read after about 10 hours of deliberations. Moss and Freeman hugged their attorneys after the jury left the courtroom and didn’t look at Giuliani as he left with his lawyer.

The former New York City mayor vowed to appeal, telling reporters that the “absurdity of the number merely underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding.”

“It will be reversed so quickly it will make your head spin, and the absurd number that just came in will help that actually,” he said.

It’s not clear whether Giuliani will ever be able to pay the staggering amount. He had already been showing signs of financial strain as he defends himself against costly lawsuits and investigations stemming from his representation of Trump. In September, his former lawyer sued him, alleging Giuliani had paid only a fraction of nearly $1.6 million in legal fees he racked up.

His attorney in the defamation case told jurors that the damages the women were seeking “would be the end of Mr. Giuliani.”

Giuliani had already been found liable in the case and previously conceded in court documents that he falsely accused the women of ballot fraud. Even so, the former mayor continued to repeat his baseless allegations about the women in comments to reporters outside the Washington, D.C., courthouse this week.

Giuliani’s lawyer acknowledged that his client was wrong but insisted that Giuliani was not fully responsible for the vitriol the women faced. The defense sought to largely pin the blame on a right-wing website that published the surveillance video of the two women counting ballots.

Giuliani’s defense rested Thursday morning without calling a single witness after the former mayor reversed course and decided not to take the stand. Giuliani’s lawyer had told jurors in his opening statement that they would hear from his client. But after Giuliani’s comments outside court, the judge barred him from claiming in testimony that his conspiracy theories were right.

The judgment adds to growing financial and legal peril for Giuliani, who was among the loudest proponents of Trump’s false claims of election fraud that are now a key part of the criminal cases against the former president.


A New York appeals court Thursday reinstated a gag order that barred Donald Trump from commenting about court personnel after the former president repeatedly disparaged a law clerk in his New York civil fraud trial.

The one-sentence decision came two weeks after an individual appellate judge put the gag order on hold while the appeals process played out.

Trial judge Arthur Engoron, who imposed the restriction, said he now planned to enforce it “rigorously and vigorously.”

Trump attorney Christopher Kise called it “a tragic day for the rule of law.” Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, complained that the gag order was “nothing but attempted election interference, which is failing terribly.”

Engoron imposed the gag order Oct. 3 after Trump posted a derogatory comment about the judge’s law clerk to social media. The post, which included a baseless allegation about the clerk’s personal life, came the second day of the trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit.

James’ lawsuit alleges Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals. Trump denies any wrongdoing. The Republican 2024 front-runner contends the lawsuit is a political attack instigated by James and furthered by Engoron, both Democrats.

Over the trial’s first few weeks, Engoron fined Trump $15,000 for violating the gag order. The judge expanded the order — which initially covered only parties in the case — to include lawyers after Trump’s attorneys questioned clerk Allison Greenfield’s prominent role on the bench. She sits alongside the judge, exchanging notes and advising him during testimony.

Trump’s lawyers sued Engoron, challenging his gag order as an abuse of power.

State lawyers supported the restriction, saying it was a reasonable step to protect Engoron’s staff. An attorney for the court system tied Trump’s comments to an uptick in nasty calls and messages directed at the judge and law clerk.

A court security captain wrote in a sworn statement last week that Greenfield has been receiving 20-30 calls per day to her personal cell phone and 30-50 messages per day on social media, LinkedIn and two personal email addresses.


In a courtroom showdown five years in the making, Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen testified Tuesday that he worked to boost the supposed value of the former president’s assets to “whatever number Trump told us to.”

Trump’s lawyers — and outside court, Trump himself — by turn sought to portray Cohen as a serial deceiver who pleaded guilty to crimes that include tax evasion and telling falsehoods to Congress and a bank. During a fractious cross-examination, Cohen, a disbarred attorney, even floated his own lawyerly objections, responding to some queries with “asked and answered!”

It was a fraught face-to-face encounter between Trump and a man who once pledged to “take a bullet” for him. Cohen eventually ended up in prison and became a prominent witness against his former boss in venues from courthouses to Congress.

Now, Cohen is a key figure in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit alleging that Trump and his company duped banks, insurers and others by giving them financial statements that inflated his wealth.

“I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets, based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen testified, saying that he and former Trump finance chief Allen Weisselberg labored “to reverse-engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets, in order to achieve a number that Mr. Trump had tasked us.”

Asked what that number was, Cohen replied: “Whatever number Trump told us to.”

Trump denies James’ allegations. Outside court, Trump dismissed Cohen’s account as the words of “a proven liar.”

“The witness is totally discredited,” Trump said. “He’s a disgraced felon, and that’s the way it’s coming out.”

The former president and Republican 2024 front-runner voluntarily came to court for a sixth day this month. Cohen has said he hadn’t seen Trump for five years until now.

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