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Abortion rights activists rally at Texas Capitol against restrictions

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Hundreds of abortion rights activists rallied at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, saying a raft of proposed legislation placing restrictions on the procedure in the most populous Republican-controlled state would endanger millions of women.

Lawmakers in Texas, which vaulted to the forefront of the national abortion debate when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 struck down a previous set of the state’s restrictions, are looking in the current session to pass bills that include a ban on a common form of second-trimester abortions.

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Last month, the Texas Senate also approved a so-called wrongful birth bill. The measure shields doctors from lawsuits if they withhold information about potential fetal abnormalities if they believe the information may prompt the parents to seek an abortion. Supporters say the measure protects the sanctity of life.

Former Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat who gained fame for her 2013 filibuster against the state’s abortion restrictions, told the rally that social conservatives have been emboldened by the election of Republican Donald Trump as president and “hell-bent” on holding women back.

“Now, we are facing the worst political attacks on women’s health in a generation,” she said on the Capitol steps in front of supporters holding pink signs reading “Don’t take away our care.”

Other proposed restrictions include a bill to halt insurance coverage for abortions and make women pay a separate premium if they wanted coverage. The bill won initial approval in the state Senate last month.

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Supporters said the measure allows those who oppose abortion to prevent their money from subsidizing the procedure while critics said it would hurt poorer women who could not afford the coverage.

“Texas is one of the most active states in the current legislative session in terms of abortion restrictions,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.

The Texas legislature meets once every two years and with the current session set to finish at the end of May, analysts are unsure how many of the restrictions might be enacted by the Republican-dominated body, where attention is now focused on passing a two-year budget.

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Many at the rally were critical of the plans of national and state Republican leaders including calls to defund Planned Parenthood.

A U.S. judge in Austin issued a preliminary injunction in February halting Texas’ plan to cut Medicaid funding, saying the state did not present evidence of a program violation that would warrant termination.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Pennsylvania Republican senator arrested and charged with possession of child pornography

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According to a release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Republican state Sen. Michael Folmer has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

The release said that the investigation began as the result of a CyberTip about Tumblr discovering that a user had uploaded child pornography onto their site. It ultimately led to the home of Folmer in Lebanon, PA. A search warrant yielded images on Folmer's phone.

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CNN

‘I thought he was joking’: CNN’s Cuomo didn’t buy Spicer’s humble brag about being a ‘staunch Christian’

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Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo

During the Tuesday night "hand-off" between CNN's Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, the two chuckled about former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who made his "Dancing with the Stars" debut Monday night. Spicer bragged about being a "staunch Christian," as the reason for why he won't win "Dancing with the Stars." But Cuomo chastised Spicer for trying to score votes.

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CNN

Trump adviser ties his tongue in knots trying to explain away the president’s anti-Hispanic racism

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On Monday night, President Donald Trump received heavy criticism after a rally in New Mexico in which he turned to one of his Hispanic advisers, Steve Cortes, said he "looks more like a WASP than I do," and asked him "Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?"

Talking with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, Cortes was completely undeterred from going to bat for Trump against accusations of racism.

"Forget about how he put what he put to you last night. He's not the greatest wordsmith. It was a little clumsy, you recognize that, none of that matters to me," said Cuomo. "Here's what matters to me. How can the Latino community believe that he loves them when he has said so many anti-Mexican and even anti-Puerto Rican things, how can he love Latinos when she's shown such animosity?"

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