News Briefly: Forced medication, Rhode Island civil unions

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Judge allows forced medication of jailed Tucson shooting suspect

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge has ruled that prison officials can forcibly medicate the Tucson shooting rampage suspect with anti-psychotic drugs.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said he did not want to second guess doctors at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo.

Burns issued the decision Wednesday after Loughner’s attorneys filed an emergency request to prevent any forced medication of their client. Defense attorneys said Loughner had been forcibly medicated since June 21.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the January shooting that killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
He has been at a federal prison facility in Missouri since May 28 after the judge concluded Loughner was mentally unfit to stand trial.


 

State Senate approves civil union, needs Rhode Island governor’s OK

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Senate has approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, a measure that Gov. Lincoln Chafee says he’s inclined to sign.

State senators voted 21-16 Wednesday evening to endorse the bill. The legislation, which already has passed the state House, allows gay couples to enter into civil unions that offer the same rights and benefits given to married couples under Rhode Island law.

It is now headed to Chafee’s desk for his signature.

Several gay marriage advocacy groups have urged Chafee to veto it because of what they call overly broad exemptions that would allow religious institutions to ignore rights given through civil unions. The measure would, for instance, let religious hospitals refuse a civil union spouse the right to make emergency medical decisions.­