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Independence Day arrives at a time when the United States is roiled by hearings over the Jan. 6 insurrection, awash in turmoil over abortion and guns and struggling to maintain the common bonds that keep it together. Yet many also see cause for celebration: The pandemic continues to be on the wane and, despite its faults, America’s democracy survives. July 4 marks the nation's 246th birthday and anniversary of independence from English rule. It’s a day when people of all stripes flock to parades, devour hot dogs at backyard barbecues and gather under a canopy of stars and exploding fireworks.

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State legislatures will be in the spotlight as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving the power to regulate abortion to the states. While overturning Roe v. Wade, the high court's majority said it was time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” But some question whether gerrymandering has diminished the ability of state legislatures to truly represent the people's will. Analyses of election data show that some state legislatures are skewed to the right or left because of the way districts have been drawn to favor Republicans or Democrats.

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Clinics are shutting down abortion services in Texas after the Supreme Court in the nation's second-largest state blocked an order that briefly allowed the procedure to resume in some cases. It's the latest development in legal scrambles taking place across the country following the reversal of reversal of Roe v. Wade. The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order allowing abortions to resume up to six weeks into pregnancy. On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted that any abortions were now being provided in the state. One provider, Whole Woman’s Health, says the ruling forced it to stop offering the procedure in its four Texas clinics.

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Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics and other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies. The company behind the internet’s dominant internet search engine and Android phone software outlined the new privacy protections in a Friday blog post. Other places Google plans to erase from location histories include counseling centers and fertility centers. The move is made as Google and other Big Tech companies face escalating pressure to safeguard the sensitive personal information collected through their products.

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The Fourth of July holiday weekend is jamming U.S. airports with the biggest crowds since the pandemic began in 2020. Newly released numbers show 2.49 million passengers went through security checkpoints at U.S. airports Friday, surpassing the previous pandemic-era record of 2.46 million reached earlier in the week. The increase is the latest sign that leisure travelers aren’t being deterred from flying by rising fares, the ongoing spread of COVID-19 or worries about recurring flight delays and cancellations. In an even more telling indication, the average passenger volume at U.S. airports for the past week is nearing the same level as in 2019.

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Medication abortions were the preferred method for ending pregnancy in the U.S. even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As more states seek abortion limits, demand is expected to grow. They involve using two prescription medicines days apart _ pills that can be taken at home or in a clinic. The drug mifepristone is taken first. It blocks the effects of the hormone progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy. Misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours later. It cause the womb to contract, expelling the pregnancy. Use of the pills has been increasing in recent years.

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FILE - Boxes of the drug mifepristone line a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022. Medication abortions became the preferred method for ending pregnancy in the U.S. even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

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The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that had given some abortion clinics confidence to resume performing abortions. The order handed down Friday night by the state’s highest court comes just days after some abortion providers rushed to resume services. An lower court order issued this week by a Houston judge had reassured some doctors they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. Before that, doctors across Texas had stopped performing abortions in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion.

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The White House says President Joe Biden will present the nation's highest civilian honor to 17 people, including gymnast Simone Biles, actor Denzel Washington and the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, with whom Biden served in the Senate. Biden will also recognize Sandra Lindsay, the New York nurse who rolled up her sleeve on live television in December 2020 to receive the first COVID-19 vaccination that was administered in the U.S. Other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom are gun safety advocate Gabrielle Giffords, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and U.S. women's national soccer team player Megan Rapinoe.

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The Supreme Court's decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion is causing anxiety for people in same-sex marriages, particularly those with children. The decision last week overturning Roe v. Wade didn't directly affect the 2015 ruling that paved the way for gay marriage. But lawyers say now they're getting questions from same-sex couples worried about the legal status of their marriages and keeping their children. Alabama lawyer Sydney Duncan has received dozens of emails and calls in just a few days. Justice Clarence Thomas has called on colleagues to reconsider cases that allowed same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception.