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The Utah governor’s order to block funding to Planned Parenthood probably was a political move designed to punish the group, a federal appeals court wrote in an ruling that ordered the state to keep the money flowing.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver decided Tuesday there’s a good chance the governor’s order violated the group’s constitutional rights.

Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert cut off cash last fall for sexually transmitted disease and sex education programs after the release of secretly recorded videos showing out-of-state employees discussing fetal tissue from abortions.

The head of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah hailed the ruling as a victory for the clinic’s patients.

“Our doors are open today and they will be tomorrow ? no matter what,” CEO Karrie Galloway said in a statement.

Herbert’s spokesman says the governor believes contract decisions should be made by the state and that he was disappointed in the ruling blocking the defunding order while Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging it goes back to be heard by a lower court.

The state is considering its next legal steps, which could include asking the full 10th Circuit to reconsider the panel’s decision.

Herbert didn’t comment on a finding by two appeals court judges that he likely used the controversy to politically attack the group because it provides abortions. A third judge dissented and questioned whether Planned Parenthood would ultimately prevail.

Lawyers for the Utah branch argued it has never participated in fetal donation programs.


The Supreme Court in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday refused to release an ethnic Uzbek journalist and activist serving a life sentence after being convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred, but instead sent his case to a regional court for review. International rights groups consider Azimzhan Askarov a prisoner of conscience.
 
The U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov, recognizing that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial. This opened the way for a reconsideration of his case, and Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court began hearings on Monday.

The charges against Askarov relate to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced. He is accused of inciting the mob killing of a police officer.

Amnesty International sharply criticized the court's decision on Tuesday to keep 65-year-old Askarov in prison while a lower court reviews his case.

"It's a missed opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to do the right thing by finally releasing a man who should never have been jailed in the first place. Today's decision by the Supreme Court ignores Kyrgyzstan's obligations under international human rights law," Amnesty International senior research director Anna Neistat said in a statement.






A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Homeland Security officials must quickly release immigrant children — but not their parents — from family detention centers after being picked up crossing the border without documentation.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said that lengthy detentions of migrant children violated a 19-year-old legal settlement ordering their quick release after processing. Government lawyers had argued that the settlement covered only immigrant children who crossed the border unaccompanied by adult relatives. But the three-judge panel ruled that immigration officials aren't required to release the parents detained along with the children, reversing U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee's ruling last year.

Advocates seeking stricter immigration controls said they hoped the ruling would discourage adults crossing the border illegally from exploiting children as a way to stay out of custody in the United States.

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies executive director and an advocate for stricter border controls, said allowing the parents to be released may have encouraged illegal immigration of adults traveling with children.


The Virginia Supreme Court has denied a hospital's request to allow it to immediately perform a test to determine whether a 2-year-old who choked on a piece of popcorn is brain dead.
 
The court Friday denied a petition from Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, which wants to perform an apnea test on Mirranda Grace Lawson. Mirranda's family has refused to allow it.

The Richmond Circuit Court ruled against the Lawsons last month but allowed them to pay a $30,000 bond barring the hospital from conducting the test while they appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The hospital asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the circuit court's bond order. The Supreme Court didn't explain why it rejected the hospital's petition.

The Lawsons' appeal is due to the state Supreme Court in September.

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