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FRANKFORT, Ky.--A proposal in the Kentucky legislature would ban a common form of abortion for women who have been pregnant for 11 or more weeks, a change opponents say would force many women to undergo a procedure that is more costly, takes longer and involves a hospital stay.

House Bill 454 would prohibit an abortion procedure called "dilation and evacuation" 11 weeks or later into a pregnancy except in medical emergencies. Doctors generally use the procedure in the second trimester.

State Rep. Addia Wuchner, who sponsored the bill, said the abortion procedure is "cruel and gruesome" and involves the dismemberment of a human fetus. At 10 week of pregnancy, an ultrasound can show the hands, arms, legs, fingers, toes, ears and feet of an unborn baby, she said.

The procedure involves the dilation of the cervix and surgical evacuation of the contents of the uterus, often used as a method of abortion and a therapeutic procedure after miscarriage to prevent infection by ensuring that the uterus is fully clear.

Kentucky Right to Life, which supports the measure, said it would "preserve the dignity of the DNA-designed fetus."

The ACLU of Kentucky said the bill would bring government interference into the lives of women and points out that similar bans on abortions have been blocked by courts in five states -- Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama.

Democratic Rep. Tom Burch predicted it will cost Kentucky taxpayers about $1 million to defend the measure from a possible lawsuit.

The bill awaits consideration by the full House. The House Judiciary Committee approved it Wednesday on a 13-4 vote.

--Lexington Herald-Leader

Caracas was the most dangerous capital city in the world last year, study says

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Caracas, Venezuela, was the most dangerous capital city in the world in 2017, according to a new study that underscores how Latin America remains one of the bloodiest swaths of the planet.

According to Mexico's Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, 43 of the world's 50 most violent cities were in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela leading the list.

Los Cabos, Mexico, topped the annual ranking with a murder rate of 111.3 per 100,000 residents. But Caracas -- just one of five capital cities on the list -- was in a close second place with 111.2 murders per 100,000 residents.

The 10th-annual ranking was released this week and measures murder rates in cities with more than 300,000 people.

The report's authors said Venezuela's murder rate had become increasingly difficult to determine. The government does not release official data and local media hadn't been providing full reports, the study found, making it a nation that has become "incapable of counting its dead."

In addition, the mass exodus from Venezuela means that population estimates are no longer accurate, so murder rates are likely higher than reported, the study found.

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The authors said they determined the Caracas figures by extrapolating from information gathered at the morgue. According to their calculations, the city had an estimated 3,387 murders in 2017.

Among the U.S. cities in the ranking were St. Louis, with 65 homicides per 100,000 residents, followed by Baltimore, New Orleans and Detroit.

--Miami Herald

British police: 21 required medical care in former Russian spy poisoning case

LONDON -- Twenty-one people have received medical treatment in connection with this week's nerve agent attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in southern England.

The Skripals and a police officer who arrived on the scene to respond to the incident are included in the count, Wiltshire Police said Thursday, according to the Press Association.

Skripal -- a former colonel in Russian intelligence who was imprisoned in Russia in 2006 on allegations of spying for Britain -- was found unconscious with his daughter on a bench near a shopping center in the city of Salisbury on Sunday.

The poisoning of father and daughter has drawn media speculation that Russian state actors could be behind the attack, prompting comparisons to other suspicious deaths of Russians on British soil -- specifically Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and Alexander Perepilichny in 2012.

Litvinenko, another Russian former intelligence officer, died after drinking tea laced with a radioactive isotope. A British inquiry concluded that he was targeted for assassination by Russian agents.

Perepilichny, who collapsed and died outside his home while jogging in southern England in 2012, had reported death threats against him following his accusations of large-scale tax fraud by Russian officials.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 30, remained unconscious and in critical but stable condition on Thursday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the House of Commons.

The officer, identified by police as Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, was "talking and engaging" but remains in serious condition, Rudd said.


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