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Court strikes down North Carolina ‘transvaginal ultrasound’ anti-abortion law

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A North Carolina law requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the displayed images to women seeking abortions constitutes compelled speech that violates the patients’ free speech rights, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision that struck down the 2011 provision, agreeing that doctors could not be forced to disseminate the state’s message discouraging abortion.

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“This compelled speech, even though it is a regulation of the medical profession, is ideological in intent and in kind,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel.

“While the state itself may promote through various means childbirth over abortion, it may not coerce doctors into voicing that message on behalf of the state in the particular manner and setting attempted here,” the ruling said.

North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature passed the abortion measure over a veto by then-Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat.

Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, challenged the law on constitutional grounds. They said requiring abortion providers to explain the images in an ultrasound to patients before performing the procedure infringed upon their right to free speech.

“We’re thrilled that the appellate court rejected this unconscionable attempt to intrude on the doctor-patient relationship,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 but lawmakers in more conservative states have enacted laws that seek to place restrictions on the procedure.

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have defended the ultrasound requirement as providing crucial information for women making an irrevocable decision. Under the law, women could avert their eyes and not listen to the explanation of the fetus images.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera attacks former White House press secretary on Twitter as ‘old douche’

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In a bizarre moment, Sunday evening politics turned into a war of wards in President Donald Trump's Twitter comments.

Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera responded to former press secretary Joe Lockhart, who had replied to one of the tweets Trump retweeted from Rivera.

"Gloom settling on Democrats as they realize they’ve taken their best kill shot & missed. Dems in despair. Republicans United. @realDonaldTrump survives & #Impeachment all over but the shouting," said Rivera, hopefully not literally saying that Democrats wanted to shoot or kill the president.

Lockhart responded to the comment by mocking the Fox News host, saying that he was only making the comment to help get his contract renewed.

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‘Now we see why’ Trump blocked Bolton from testifying — and Republicans are barring witnesses: Adam Schiff

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) is one of the handful of members of Congress who have served as managers for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. He has not only navigated the past week of the trial, but he conducted the first major hearing.

After the New York Times revealed key facts from former national security adviser John Bolton's upcoming book, Schiff said that it was clear the information Bolton has is why Trump blocked him from testifying.

“I think you have to for the sake of the office,” Trump told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham when she asked if he would block Bolton.

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John Bolton went to Bill Barr with concerns about Giuliani’s ‘shadow foreign policy’ in Ukraine: report

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Attorney General Bill Barr was cited recently by Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas as being part of the "team" of people workign to create a conspiracy to help get President Donald Trump reelected.

“Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,” said Parnas in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. “Mr. Barr had to know about everything.”

Parnas' lawyer, Joseph Bondy, has demanded that Barr recuse himself from overseeing the Parnas trial and investigation.

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