This Just In: Abortion rights upheld in RI; a man's bid for a second chance

Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. Today is May 4, so happy Rhode Island Independence Day to you, and don't let this story throw too much cold water on your celebration.

Less than 48 hours after a leaked report indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court was moving toward overturning Roe v. Wade, the Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld a three-year-old state law that establishes the "fundamental" right to an abortion. Last night, hundreds of people rallied outside the State House, joining others across the country who are incensed by the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft.

Before he turned 20, Giovanni Lara was already facing life in prison for his role in the carjacking and killing of a Rhode Island College student. In the years since then, Lara has renounced his gang affiliation, even burning a tattoo off his arm while behind bars. He says he is a changed man, who deserves a chance to be released after 27 years. But the stepfather of the college student whose life was cut short says the passage of time has not changed how he views the case.

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported no new coronavirus-related deaths and 744 additional cases of COVID-19, along with 8,936 negative tests, for a 7.7% positive rate. There were 86 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, up from 73 reported yesterday, and the most since mid-March (although the Health Department reports that more than a third of patients are not in the hospital due to COVID symptoms, but only tested positive after arriving at the hospital). Rhode Island has reported an average of 560 new cases a day over the last seven days, up 38% from a week ago and up 63% from two weeks ago. The seven-day average is the highest it's been since Feb. 11.

The former director of the state Department of Health, Dr. Michael Fine, is in Poland, providing health care and support to people who have fled over the border from Ukraine.

National Grid's liquified natural gas plant in the Port of Providence, which is set to go into operation this summer, has long been controversial. It has also turned out to be much more expensive than planned, and customers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be asked to make up some of the difference.

Concerned over what they describe as a lack of accountability surrounding the management of the state-run Providence schools, some elected officials are calling for greater oversight. But others say more bureaucracy is exactly what is not needed.

Two more North Kingstown school employees have been put on leave, just days after a teacher and former coach was suspended amid allegations of "stalking" behavior toward a middle-school girl.

And the football coach at Scituate High School resigned amid questions about missing money from a fundraiser.

In Rhode Island there's never a bad time to try out new restaurants, and Gail Ciampa has five to put on your list in May. They're all quite different, but they also all have one thing in common.

And finally, for years, there has been a debate among youth sports parents between specialization and encouraging children to play multiple sports. Bill Koch writes today that for two student athletes who will continue playing baseball in college, the decision to stay well-rounded was easy.

Have a great night. And remember, if you enjoy This Just In, please encourage a friend to sign up.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: This Just In: Abortion rights upheld in RI; a man's bid for a second chance