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AROUND THE STATE

Birth certificates set for stillborn under bill

ALBANY (AP) -- Parents who have a stillborn child will be able to get a birth certificate from the state Health Department if they choose, under legislation awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Certificate of Stillbirth Bill was first introduced in New York in 2003 but failed to pass because opponents feared it would impinge on abortion rights.

The language of the bill has since been rewritten to address those concerns. The bill in its current form, supported by Family Planning Advocates, was championed by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining.

Currently, parents who experience one of the more than 1,700 stillbirths annually in New York are given a death certificate but can't get a birth certificate.

Twenty-eight other states have passed similar bills since 2001.

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Pediatrician accused in sex abuse of patients

MINEOLA (AP) -- A Long Island pediatrician already accused of secretly videotaping young female patients has been indicted on new charges that he sexually abused and assaulted some of them, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Some of the victims were as young as 11 and were allegedly drugged with sedatives and blindfolded during the assaults, according to a statement by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Dr. Rakesh Punn, 53, of Bethpage, is scheduled to be arraigned July 11 on a 60-count indictment charging him with sexual abuse, assault, promoting a sexual performance by a child, unlawful surveillance and other crimes.

His attorney did not immediately return a call to comment but said after his client was arrested last July that the physician was innocent of accusations that he secretly videotaped girls while they were naked in his office. Punn has been held on $3.5 million bail on those charges.

"This trusted pediatrician turned his office into a house of horrors for many young girls, and I am asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this sexual predator to contact my office immediately," Rice said.

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Playmate in parade July 4 sparks revolt

TICONDEROGA (AP) -- This small town's annual Fourth of July parade is getting some extra spark, thanks to the planned appearance by a Playboy Playmate.

Mei-Ling Lam, the magazine's June Playmate, is scheduled to ride in a convertible during Monday's July 4th parade in Ticonderoga, a town of about 5,000 residents in the eastern Adirondacks.

Parade organizers are less-than-thrilled by Lam's participation.

One official said her appearance isn't endorsed by the parade committee, while others refused to comment.

Lam's business manager, Ticonderoga native Brian Little, told local media outlets that he wanted to visit his parents for the holiday, and Lam asked if she could come along.

Lam's fiance, former Atlanta Falcons running back Ken Oxendine, will be traveling with her.

Little and Lam met at college in Maine, where she was raised.

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