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February 2015 Archives

Public Advocate Against Domestic Violence Dies in Violent Fire

37-year-old Shannon Pepper, an outspoken public advocate for tougher laws to protect women from domestic abuse, recently died in a violent fire in her apartment this past weekend. A survivor of domestic violence herself (Pepper was brutally beaten into a coma in 2013 by her boyfriend), Pepper worked with prosecutors to put her attacker behind bars and continued to speak up for the protection of women even after the trial. Though investigators are still looking into the origins of the fire, no additional information has been released as whether the fire was intentional. Though several other people were injured, Pepper was the only person killed.

Same-Sex Partners Named as Parents on Arkansas Birth Certificates

On December 1, Little Rock Circuit Judge Tim Fox confirmed that it was unconstitutional to only limit the identification of parents on birth certificates to heterosexual couples. The Arkansas Supreme Court was blocking a lower court's order that would have allowed same-sex couples to be listed on the certificates. Three same-sex, female couples challenged that ruling, citing the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer. Judge Fox narrowly won the case, according to Reuters.

Michigan Mom Pushes for Public Child Abuse Registry

Michigan mom Erica Hammel has begun collecting signatures on a petition to create a public online registry that would list people convicted of child abuse in the state. This is because her two-year-old son was recently shaken so hard by his father's then-girlfriend that he has suffered severe brain injuries, temporary blindness, and has been unable to talk since the assault. Though his attacker had two previous convictions of child abuse, no such record was readily available to the public.

Oregon Baby found in Marijuana Extract Lab

A 24-year-old father was keeping his baby inside his house while making homemade marijuana extract. Derick Scott had his two-year-old child with him while using harsh chemicals in his home, according to the Statesman Journal. Authorities responded to a call to check on the child, then called the fire department, a bomb squad and the District Attorney once they found the chemicals and the child. The father was taken into the Marion County jail on misdemeanor charges and endangering a minor. Though marijuana is legal now in the state of Oregon, the production or possession of marijuana extract is illegal. The child is now in protective custody and was examined at a local hospital.

New Michigan State Bill Proposes Two-Parent Adoption

Last week, Michigan State Representative Jeff Irwin proposed a bill that would legalize unwed, two-parent adoption. This occurred after April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse were denied their request for second-parent adoption. Unsurprisingly, this case later shifted from its original intent to a broader consideration of same-sex marriage. This is because though there are marriage bans preventing same sex marriage in place currently, many same-sex couples are still looking to adopt.

Baby Abandoned on Bike Path in CA

The L.A. Times reported that a baby was found along a bike path in Compton. The 33-year-old mother had been hiding her pregnancy from friends and family, and had the baby shortly before Thanksgiving Day. Porche Washington was released from the hospital a few days later, and came to the bike path the following morning. She placed the baby underneath broken pieces of concrete, and neighbors said they heard crying for a few hours until someone found where the baby was located. The infant was taken to the hospital but is in good condition. Washington was charged with attempted murder.

Father and Stepfather go to Court in Custody Dispute

A Newtown, CT family was engaged in a custody battle that went differently than most. Parents of two children got divorced in 2005, and the mother was remarried later. This October, the mother died from cancer, leaving the children with their stepfather. Issues arose between him and the children's father once the father asked for custody of the 14 and 17-year-old. This time, the children stated that they preferred to stay with their stepfather, so the father's attorney had to do more extensive research to show the judge that the father deserved to have custody. There is a constitutional right for the birth parent to have custody, and both parties came to an agreement fairly early on in the legal process. The children will be seeing their father at least once a week, and there will be other changes made to the visitation schedule later.

NY Mom Leaves Baby in Nativity Scene

A mother in New York brought her baby to a Nativity scene then left her son behind. According to the NY Daily News, the mother acted lawfully since the Nativity scene was located inside a church in Queens. There is a "Safe Haven" law in New York which allows parents to leave babies in certain locations as long as they are not over 30 days old. Other suitable safe havens include hospitals, police stations and firehouses. Police officers said they will not press charges, and many members of the church supported the mother's decision. A member of the church, Brenda Terin, said "The mother did the right thing by leaving (the baby) at the church if she didn't want him." After the story went public, several people offered to adopt the young boy.

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