National briefs: Abortions fall by 5%

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LOS ANGELES -- The rate of abortions in the United States fell by 5 percent, the largest single-year decrease in a decade, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The decline is outlined in the annual abortion surveillance data for the year 2009, the latest available. It was published on Wednesday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

About 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion, the CDC noted. Factors from the availability of abortion providers, state laws, the general economy and access to health services including contraception, can all influence the abortion rate, according to the CDC. An important way to reduce abortions is to eliminate unwanted pregnancies.

Widespread HIV tests urged

NEW YORK -- Everyone in the United States ages 15 to 65 should be screened at least once for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to lower the risks of illness and death, a medical advisory group to the government has recommended.

Early identification and treatment are crucial for preventing the virus's spread and lengthening the lives of those who are infected, according to the draft guidelines released this week by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Breast-screening study

BOSTON -- Roughly a third of all tumors discovered in routine mammography screenings are unlikely to result in illness, according to a new study that says 30 years of the breast cancer exams have resulted in the over-diagnosis of 1.3 million American women.

The report, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, argues that the increase in breast cancer survival rates over the last few decades is due mostly to improved therapies and not screenings, which are intended to flag tumors when they are small and most susceptible to treatment.

Schoolgirl fatally shot

MIAMI -- The family of a 13-year-old south Florida girl shot and killed while riding a school bus with her younger sister says they forgive the alleged shooter, "but he has to pay for what he did," the victim's mother said Wednesday while addressing reporters.

A 15-year-old boy was in juvenile detention Wednesday, charged with manslaughter after police say he took a gun out of a backpack and showed it to other students during the ride to school on Tuesday. Investigators say he fired it once in an apparent accident, striking Lourdes Guzman.

Thankful for 2nd chance

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama pardoned two turkeys in an annual Thanksgiving rite on Wednesday, saying he wanted to offer the birds a second chance just like he got in the general election.

Cobbler, the newly designated national turkey, and his alternate, Gobbler, received a reprieve.

Also in the nation ...

The Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the disbarment of Matthew H. Diaz, a former U.S. Navy lawyer court-martialed for disclosing classified information about detainees at Guantanamo Bay. ... To date, 10 people have fallen ill -- and three have died -- in the hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park's "signature" cabins in Curry Village, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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