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While the nation waits for the Supreme Court’s opinion on a blockbuster abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Washington is getting ready for an increase in out-of-state patients seeking an abortion.

“We are already seeing patients from Texas, from Oklahoma. I saw a patient a couple of weeks ago from Alabama,” Dr. Erin Berry, gynecologist and Washington state medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, told KING-TV.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest said it’s working to see which locations in Washington could open up for additional days if needed and upping its patient navigation teams, which help patients with appointments and travel arrangements.

“There’s a lot of unknown,” Berry said. “We also ultimately do not know how many people will be coming in from where and what their needs will be.”

Twenty-six states are likely to have total or near-total bans on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Idaho’s trigger law bans all abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at risk.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, 230,000 patients could travel across state lines from Idaho seeking an abortion.

Berry said it’s expensive for patients to travel across the country to access medical care and fears for funding in the long term.

The looming decision is creating uncertainty for more than just patients. The Washington Medical Commission, which regulates physician license in Washington, said if Roe v. Wade is overturned it could raise practice concerns for Washington licensees.

A special grand jury was selected Monday for the investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia.

The investigation has been underway since early last year, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took this unusual step to help it along, noting in a letter to the chief judge that the special grand jury would be able to issue subpoenas to people who have refused to cooperate otherwise.

The chief judge ordered the special grand jury to be seated for a period of up to a year, beginning Monday. Of the pool of about 200 people called from the county master jury list, 26 were chosen to serve — 23 grand jurors and three alternates. Special grand juries focus on investigating a single topic and making recommendations to the district attorney, who then decides whether to seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.

Because of the intense public interest in this case, the court made arrangements for parts of Monday’s selection process to be broadcast live. Now that the special grand jury has been selected, however, everything it does will happen in secret.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s been tasked with overseeing the special grand jury, told the people summoned to the jury pool that they wouldn’t be hearing a trial, but would instead be serving on an investigative special grand jury looking into actions surrounding the 2020 general election.

A North Carolina lawsuit that attempts to block a law permitting four Charlotte-area municipalities to operate their own charter schools can’t go forward, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Two years ago, the North Carolina and Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP chapters and two parents challenged the law approved by the General Assembly in 2018, saying it violated the state constitution in part by encouraging racial segregation and financial inequity in public schools.

Republican lawmakers and town leaders who pushed the measure said it had nothing to do with race, but rather addressed overcrowded public schools in their area that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system failed to address adequately.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier refused last year to dismiss the lawsuit — as Republican legislative leaders who were sued had sought — and referred it to a panel of trial judges, which handle claims of unconstitutionality.

But the GOP lawmakers appealed to the Court of Appeals, where a separate panel of appeals judges vacated Rozier’s ruling Tuesday.

The plaintiffs “have not alleged in their complaint they sustained a direct injury, or that they are in immediate danger of sustaining a direct injury, resulting from the (law’s) enactment,” Court of Appeals Judge Jeffery Carpenter wrote in the unanimous opinion.

The plaintiffs argued the new option for Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius would create essentially new town school districts that siphon money from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

The 47-year-old man charged for a series of home invasions and sexual assaults that occurred nearly two decades ago appeared in Whitman County Superior Court for his arraignment Friday morning, where his lawyer asked for more time to review the case.

Kenneth Downing of Elk, Washington was arrested last week by the Spokane Police Department at the request of the Pullman Police Department. They had used DNA evidence collected from the crimes that occurred in 2003 and 2004 to identify a link with Downing, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.

Downing was charged with four counts of first-degree rape, one count of indecent liberties, two counts of first-degree burglary, three counts of second-degree assault and three counts of unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, all felonies. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

At his first court appearance March 18, Judge Gary Libey imposed a $5 million bond or $500,000 cash bail and appointed public defender Steve Martonick to represent him.

On Friday, Martonick asked Libey for more time to review the 13 charges brought against his client before the arraignment. The arraignment is now scheduled for April 1.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a 15-week abortion ban into law after Florida’s legislature joined the trend of Republican-led states anticipating a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could sharply limit abortion rights in America.

DeSantis, a Republican, has signaled his support for the proposal, which was approved in the GOP-controlled statehouse Thursday night after emotional debate that often veered into painful, personal stories. The governor’s office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, responded in a tweet Friday: “Last night, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. My administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women’s constitutional rights.”

Republicans across the country are moving to replicate a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi that the Supreme Court seems poised to uphold this summer. If the court weakens or overturns Roe v. Wade, Florida could be less of a destination for women throughout the South whose states have more restrictive abortion laws.

The New Mexico Supreme Court determined Tuesday that a rule allowing private landowners to limit public access to streams and rivers is unconstitutional and contrary to state statute.

The court announced its decision after hearing oral arguments in a case that centered on whether the public has a right to fish or float on streams and other waterways that flow through private property.

While the debate over stream access has been going on across the West for years, the New Mexico court added some clarity about the constitutional rights of the public to recreate on waterways with its ruling on a petition filed by a coalition of anglers, rafters and conservationists.

The group argued that the public has the constitutional right to fish, boat or use any stream for recreation so long as they do not trespass across private land to get there. In court filings, the group pointed to similar conclusions reached over the years by courts in Montana, Oregon and Utah.

The New Mexico Game Commission, which oversees wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing regulations, voted last August against several landowners who sought to restrict access to streams and rivers crossing their property. An attorney for the property owners said after the decision that his clients’ rights were being violated.

Jeremy Harrison, an attorney for the landowners, argued Monday that the anglers and boaters were seeking a broad interpretation of recreational use and that the rule established by the Game Commission was meant to clarify the ownership of the land underlying the stream or river segment in question.

As part of its decision, the court said previous certificates granted to landowners by the commission would be voided, meaning the public would be able to float or fish those segments of river that had been made off limits as a result.

Advocates of private property rights have warned that if waterways are opened up, property values will decline and there will be less interest by owners to invest in conserving tracts of land along streams. Some fishing outfitters and guides have said their businesses will be adversely affected.

Gangs inside a Mississippi jail often determine whether other inmates receive meals, a court-appointed monitor testified in a federal court hearing.

Elizabeth Simpson testified Tuesday that staffing shortages are so severe at Hinds County’s Raymond Detention Center that gangs and “inmate committees” control certain aspects of life, including whether some inmates get to eat, WLBT-TV reported.

A former administrator of the jail, Maj. Kathryn Bryan, learned staff would put food on carts to take to the jail’s housing units and would let the inmates distribute it, Simpson said. In two cases this January, detainees in a mental health unit were suffering severe weight loss as a result, Simpson said.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a civil contempt order Feb. 4, saying officials in Mississippi’s largest county have failed to fix problems at the jail. He started holding hearings last week to determine whether to order a receivership in which the federal government would take over operation of the jail, with Hinds County paying the tab.

Simpson testified Tuesday that inmate committees determined whether certain detainees could remain in housing units known as pods.

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