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Afternoon News Brief - Abortions rates down for Wisconsin doctors

Wisconsin doctors performed almost seven and a half percent fewer abortions last year. State officials said today that almost 7250 women had their infants aborted in 2011. That's down from 7825 the previous year. It was the seventh time in eight years that Wisconsin's abortion rate had gone down. The only exception was in 2009. 6.3 of every 1000 Wisconsin women had abortions last year. That's down from 6.8 in 2010 and it's only about half the national rate of 16 abortions per 1000 women as of 2008. Barbara Lyons of Wisconsin Right to Life praised the reduction. She said it means that hundreds of babies are saved, and their mothers are quote, "protected from a lifetime of emotional pain." The right to life group notes that Wisconsin abortions have fallen by 58% since 1987, the first year that doctors were required to report their abortion procedures to the state.


The state and the University of Wisconsin system increased the hiring of outside contractors by 17 percent in the last fiscal year. The Department of Administration released a report earlier today showing those entities spent nearly $490 million dollars on outside contracting. That report was actually due eight months ago. It shows state agencies spent 26 percent more on outside contractors than the year before. At the same time, hiring at UW was down by two percent during the period.


The U.S. Department of Education has approved Wisconsin's reform plan for public schools, meaning the state is getting the waivers it requested from the No Child Left Behind Act. The Wisconsin plan will focus on improving academic standard, instructional practices and assessments. It will also change the way school progress is measured and reported. Those reforms have been under development for more than a year. The next step is to put them into action.


A spokesperson for Republican state Senator Van Wanggaard says his boss is reviewing evidence of voting irregularities. Democrats had questioned why Wanggaard was keeping such a low profile after a recount showed he still lost his recall election to challenger John Lehman. Democrats are calling on Wanggaard to concede his defeat. Democratic Senate leader Mark Miller says Republican passed legislation has made it harder for election clerks to administer the vote. Now, Miller says it looks like the GOP is challenging results based on human error which they caused.


A federal appeals court says a Milwaukee man should not have been convicted of illegally possessing a gun as a convicted felon, just because he lived with his parents who owned guns. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has reversed Cory Griffin's conviction for illegal gun possession. He was released from prison in 2008 and started a period of extended supervision at his parent's home. A week later, SWAT team officers were looking for Griffin's brother - and they found hunting weapons and bullets owned by his father and his hunting partners. Griffin was later charged with possessing those weapons himself, and a jury found him guilty. But the federal appeals' judges said that to prove possession, the government must prove that a defendant had sole control over the area where the guns were found or else prove that he had a "substantial connection" to the weapons. And in this case, the judges said prosecutors did not offer enough proof.