U.S. Briefs: Pro-lifers celebrate a rare win in Colorado
Centennial State officials say they won’t enforce ban on abortion pill reversal treatment for now
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U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Domenico at the end of April declined to block a newly enacted state ban on abortion pill reversal treatment. But the pro-life facility that requested the judge’s intervention is still celebrating a temporary win: In court filings, state officials said they would not enforce the law for the time being. The judge said that ended the need for a preliminary injunction but insisted he would hold state officials to their promise. Pro-life pregnancy centers and physicians offer abortion pill reversal treatment to women who have taken abortion drugs. It involves administering doses of the natural hormone progesterone to counteract mifepristone, an abortion drug that blocks progesterone. The new law instructs state medical boards to consult with one another and determine by Oct. 1 whether attempting to perform abortion pill reversal is “a generally accepted standard of practice.” The state agreed to wait on enforcing the law until the boards make their determination. —Leah Savas
A judge on May 2 rejected a state legislator’s lawsuit against the Montana House of Representatives, a legal effort to regain access to the chamber from which he’s been banned. Rep. Zooey Zephyr is a man who identifies as a woman. Zephyr said lawmakers who supported legislation protecting minors from gender transition procedures would have “blood on [their] hands.” Montana House Speaker Matt Regier said Zephyr violated rules of decorum and initially refused to recognize Zephyr on the floor, effectively preventing him from speaking for several days. Regier said Zephyr could speak once he apologized. Zephyr refused. The House then voted to bar Zephyr from the floor for the rest of the 2023 session, though he can still vote remotely. —Josh Schumacher
Pornhub, one of the largest pornography websites, blocked access to users in Utah on May 1. It made the move in response to new state legislation that requires age verification, an effort to prevent minors from accessing adult content. Users who access the site from Utah now see a message criticizing the law as “not the most effective solution” to protect children. Louisiana enacted a similar age-verification system in January. People attempting to access Pornhub in Louisiana are directed to a page that lets them verify their age with the state’s digital ID system. A spokesperson for Pornhub told CNN that web traffic from Louisiana has dropped by 80 percent since the new age-verification system went into effect. —Emma Freire
Conservation groups sued the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 1, challenging its approval of Elon Musk’s expanded SpaceX Starship launches next to a Texas wildlife refuge. The plaintiffs, including the Center for Biological Diversity, say the FAA violated federal law by allowing rocket operations without a full environmental impact study and only minimal review. The lawsuit claims the explosion during a failed April 20 SpaceX rocket launch came after at least nine other explosions near the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Boca Chica State Park and Beach. The area is home to endangered animals, sea turtles, and shorebirds. The latest blast hurled concrete chunks and metal shrapnel thousands of feet from the launchpad, sent pulverized concrete raining down on tidal flats and Port Isabel, and ignited a brush fire. Musk says he’s not aware of “meaningful damage to the environment” but promised to make improvements. The FAA declined to comment on pending litigation. —Sharon Dierberger
A prison break in Central Mississippi led to the death of Anthony Watts, lead pastor of St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in D’Lo. Police believe 22-year-old Dylan Thomas Arrington, one of four inmates who breached a roof to escape the Raymond Detention Center on April 22, shot Watts two days later when the pastor pulled over to help him after he crashed a stolen motorcycle. The suspect left the scene in Watts’ 2011 Dodge Ram, then died during a shootout and house fire later in the week. In an April 3 Facebook post, the 61-year-old pastor praised his church family after celebrating six years as pastor: “I knew that you all loved me, but yesterday was simply over the top. Your efforts encouraged me and my wife to continue on this battlefield.” Church member Vivan Ross told reporters Watts never met a stranger: “He would help you, do anything he could for you.” —Kim Henderson
Federal regulators seized First Republic Bank on May 1 and abruptly sold its assets to JPMorgan Chase. The same day, the San Francisco–based bank opened its 84 branches under the JPMorgan banner. It was the third midsize U.S. bank to fail in two months. First Republic clients started withdrawing their money after the Silicon Valley Bank collapse on March 10, prompting a large group of other banks to give First Republic a $30 billion bailout. By April 24, First Republic said depositors had withdrawn more than $100 billion, mostly during a few days in mid-March. “Too many [First Republic] customers showed their true loyalties were to their own fears,” Tim Coffey, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott, wrote to investors. First Republic’s banking model relied heavily on wealthy clients and companies with deposits exceeding the federally insured $250,000. The bank also held hundreds of billions of dollars in low-interest loans that became unviable with today’s higher interest rates. —Mary Jackson
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