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Alabama Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortion, No Exception For Rape And Incest

Lawmakers in Alabama voted to outlaw abortions which could make the procedure punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The 25-6 vote, with one abstention, was handed down Tuesday (May 14) following a nearly four-hour debate, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

The HB314 abortion bill makes an exception only if the pregnant mother’s health could be at risk. It does not include exceptions for rape and incest. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), and drafted by Eric Johnston of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has yet to decide if she will sign the bill into law.

While the abortion debate rages on, prenatal health and access to proper health care remains an issue for women in Alabama, particularly black women. As of 2016, Alabama had a infant mortality rate of 9.1 deaths for every 1,000 infants born. The mortality rate for black infants was twice the rate of white infants, according to figures from 2016. Additionally, Alabama ranked 40th in a 2018 study on children's health care putting the state slightly ahead of Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, all of which ranked extremely low on the national list.

The HB314 abortion bill was passed amid ongoing controversy surrounding abortion laws in various states. Shortly after the news broke, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it will sue to stop the law from “ever taking effect.”

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Wrongfully Convicted Kansas Man Awarded $1.5 Million After Spending 23 Years In Prison

A Kansas man, who spent more than half of his life in prison for a wrongful conviction, was awarded a $1.5 million settlement on Monday (Feb. 24). Lamonte McIntyre sued the state last year under a newly-implemented wrongful conviction statute.

“Today, Lamonte McIntyre has been declared, finally and conclusively, a completely innocent man. That long-overdue recognition, along with the statutory payment and other benefits will help lighten a bit the heavy load he has carried,” McIntyre’s lawyer, Cheryl A. Pilate, told CNN on Monday.

The settlement includes counseling, access to state-funded healthcare benefits for 2020 and 2021, and a tuition waiver to cover his post-secondary education up to 130 credit hours.

McIntyre was wrongly convicted in the 1994 murders of Donald Ewing and Doniel Quinn. He was just 17 years old at the time and served 8,583 days in prison before being released in 2017 at age 41.

“We are committed to faithfully administering the state’s mistaken-conviction law as the legislature wrote it,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement. “In this case, our office worked diligently to obtain and review all available evidence, including evidence identified but not provided in the earlier judicial proceedings. We were ultimately able to resolve all issues, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. McIntyre can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because of his mistaken conviction.”

McIntyre is the third wrongfully convicted man in Kansas to be awarded a settlement after suing the state under the wrongful conviction law, which was enacted in 2018. Three additional lawsuits remain pending in “various stages of litigation.”

Since his release, the McIntyre has completed barber school and founded Miracle of Innocence, a non-profit organization helping the wrongfully convicted. McIntyre attends Penn Valley Metropolitan Community College where he is pursuing a business degree.

“I feel like a new person, I feel like I’m actually starting my life now,” he told ABC news affiliate KMBC.

See more on McIntyre’s story in the video above.

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The USC Annenberg School For Communication And Journalism Celebrates Commencement at The Shrine Auditorium on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

USC Will Offer Free Tuition For Students From Families Making Under $80,000

USC announced a new effort to make attending the university affordable to students from middle and low-income families. The school will offer free undergrad tuition for families making less than 80,000 a year, USC president Carol L. Folt announced on Thursday (Feb. 20).

Thanks to the new policies, owning a home will not be counted in calculating the student’s tuition needs.

“We’re opening the door to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks life,” Folt said in a statement. “This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey. We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances. Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our education mission.”

The announcement comes as USC remains embroiled in an admissions scandal that became public last year.

As for the new policy, USC will increase undergraduate aid by $30 million annually which will expand financial aid for more than 4,000 students. The new policies will be implemented for incoming students beginning in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021.

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7.7. Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Jamaica, Cuba And Miami

A powerful earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea on Tuesday (Jan. 28) triggering temporary tsunami warnings and tremors felt as far away as South Florida. The 7.7. magnitude quake hit the waters between Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, according to the United States Geological Survey and the International Tsunami Information Center.

The quake, which struck roughly 86 miles northwest off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, resulted in multiple aftershocks including a a 6.1 tremor near the Cayman Island, and a 4.4 aftershock. “Light shaking” was also reported in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

“Despite the large size of the earthquake, the fact that it occurred offshore and away from high population areas lessened its societal impact,” the USGS said. The organization described the quake as “moderate shaking” in parts of Cuba and Jamaica.

The quake comes nearly a month after a 6.4. magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico, but the USGS said that the “seismic events” were unrelated.

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