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Louisiana gets tough on partial births
Under a new state law, physicians in Louisiana who perform a "partial birth" abortion can end up in prison for one to 10 years of hard labor and be fined between $10,000 and $100,000. Doctors would be spared prosecution only if the state board of medical examiners finds that the procedure was necessary to save the mother's life. If fines and jail time aren't enough, physicians can also be held liable in a civil suit filed by the father (or the mother's parents if she is a minor), unless he or they consented to the procedure.
A warning to late payers
If you've missed as few as a single car payment, your credit score may plunge. Consumers with at least one late payment had an average credit score nearly 100 points lower than those who never missed one, according to a study by Experian Consumer Direct. (Experian, along with Equifax and TransUnion, is one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus.) Nationwide, roughly one in eight consumers has at least one missed auto payment on file. Those with unblemished payment records had an average credit score of 703, while those with a mark had a score of 605. The score drops to 580, Experian says, when a car payment is late by 90 days or more. For additional survey results, go to http://www.nationalscoreindex.com
Two more states try to block data mining
Maine and Vermont are stepping up the battle to protect residents' privacy. Effective Jan. 1, new laws in both New England states set limits on the sale of prescription drug information for marketing purposes. In particular, the laws ban the sale of data that directly or indirectly identifies prescribing healthcare providers who don't want to be fingered. New Hampshire, which borders Maine and Vermont, plans to appeal a federal court ruling blocking its law to ban data mining.