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Inmate says time short for abortion

Kansas City, Mo. An attorney for a pregnant inmate who wants an abortion said time is running out for his client to have the procedure while the courts decide her case.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday temporarily blocked a federal judge’s ruling that ordered Missouri prison officials to drive the woman to a clinic on Saturday for an abortion.

Justice Clarence Thomas, acting alone, granted the temporary stay pending a further decision by himself or the full court.

Missouri law forbids spending tax dollars to facilitate an abortion. However, U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple ruled Thursday that the prison system was blocking the woman from exercising her right to an abortion and ordered that the woman be taken to the clinic Saturday.

The woman’s attorney, James Felakos of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in court papers that the woman is running out of time because she is 16 weeks to 17 weeks pregnant, and Missouri bars abortions after 22 weeks.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed in court papers, has said she will borrow money for the abortion from friends and family but cannot afford to pay for transportation.

Poor have poor access to legal aid, study says

At least 80 percent of low-income Americans who need civil legal assistance do not receive any, in part because legal aid offices in this country are so stretched that they routinely turn away qualified prospective clients, a new study shows.

Roughly 1 million cases a year are being rejected because legal aid programs lack the resources to handle them, according to the study, “Documenting the Justice Gap in America,” by the Legal Services Corp., which funds 143 legal aid programs nationwide.

The study shows the 1 million cases do not include the many qualified people who do not ask a legal aid program for help: Because they don’t know the programs exist, they don’t know that they qualify or they assume that the help is not available to them. Nor does the figure include people who received some service — including simple advice — but not the level of service that they actually needed, the study found.

One killed in explosion of railroad tanker car

Texarkana, Ark. A tanker car transporting flammable gas derailed in a switchyard and exploded in a ball of fire Saturday, killing one person and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes.

A plume of smoke covered the south end of the city, and at least seven people went to hospital emergency rooms with complaints of respiratory problems.

At least two homes were destroyed — including one where the victim died — and several vehicles were totaled in the quarter-mile area surrounding the accident, police spokesman Chris Rankin said. A 209-foot-long railroad bridge also caught fire and was destroyed, a Union Pacific spokesman said.

The propylene tank was still burning Saturday evening, but the fire was under control and the smoke had thinned out, Rankin said.

Carter’s son weighing Senate run in Nevada

Elko, Nev. Jack Carter, the son of the former president, took aim at the Bush administration Saturday during his first stop on a tour to gauge support for a possible run for U.S. Senate.

Carter, 58, said he would announce in a month whether he’ll challenge Republican Sen. John Ensign, who is seeking a second term in 2006.

Nevada has nearly even voter registration among Republicans and Democrats. Carter started his tour in a Republican stronghold 290 miles east of Reno, speaking to about 35 people at a meeting of the Elko County Democratic Central Committee.

He avoided any sharp criticism of Ensign and instead attacked the Bush administration.

Carter said the administration was waging a misguided campaign against terrorism, and he criticized President Bush’s call to spend $200 billion rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast without a tax increase or major spending cuts.


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.