News MIDDAY UPDATE: VT gunman had been accused of stalking 2 females; Supreme Court upholds federal ban on disputed abortion procedure

The gunman blamed for the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history had previously been accused of stalking two female students at Virginia Tech and had been taken to a mental health facility in 2005 after an acquaintance worried he might be suicidal, police said today.

Cho Seung-Hui had concerned one woman enough with his calls and e-mail in 2005 that police were called in, said Police Chief Wendell Flinchum.

He said the woman declined to press charges, and neither woman was among the victims of Monday’s massacre on the Virginia Tech campus.

During the second stalking incident, also in late 2005, the department received a call from an acquaintance of Cho’s who was concerned that he might be suicidal, and Cho was taken to a mental health facility, Flinchum said. About the same time, in fall 2005, Cho’s professor informally shared some concerns about the young man’s writing but no official report was filed, he said.

Flinchum said he knew of no other police incidents involving Cho until the deadly shootings Monday, first at a girl’s dorm room and then a classroom building across campus.

Thirty-two people were shot to death before the gunman killed himself. State Police have said the same gun was used in both shootings, but they said Wednesday said they still weren’t confident that it was the same gunman.

- Associated Press


The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure this morning, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act ‘‘have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,’’ Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The administration defended the law as drawing a bright line between abortion and infanticide.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also were in the majority.It was the first time the court banned a specific procedure in a case over how — not whether — to perform an abortion.

Abortion rights groups as well as the leading association of obstetricians and gynecologists have said the procedure sometimes is the safest for a woman.

They also said that such a ruling could threaten most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, although government lawyers and others who favor the ban said there are alternate, more widely used procedures that remain legal.

The outcome is likely to spur efforts at the state level to place more restrictions on abortions.- Associated Press


- With only days left in this year's Legislative, we'll keep you updated on the latest developments at the Capitol. Come back to our Web site for the latest on budget negotiations and a gun bill in the Senate.


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