This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today with the horrific story of 46 men, women and children seeking safety and a better life in the United States found dead Monday night in San Antonio, Texas. A warning to our listeners and viewers: This story contains graphic details.
San Antonio authorities say they found 46 migrants dead inside a sweltering tractor-trailer that was left abandoned in a remote road on Monday. Sixteen survivors were hospitalized, including four children, to be treated for heat stroke and exhaustion as temperatures in the region surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Local authorities said a city worker heard a cry for help from inside the truck yesterday afternoon and found a body on the ground outside the trailer in a partially opened gate to the trailer. This is San Antonio’s Fire Chief Charles Hood.
CHARLES HOOD: The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion. No signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.
AMY GOODMAN: Authorities said many of the dead had been sprinkled with steak seasoning in a possible attempt by smugglers to ward off law enforcement officials. Fire Chief Hood said the people who helped to rescue the survivors and remove the dead are now being counseled.
CHARLES HOOD: We are currently putting those 60 members through critical incident stress debriefing. Again, we’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work imagining that. So we’re working through the behavioral health for our folks right now.
AMY GOODMAN: The staggering death toll is among the deadliest tragedies in recent decades of migrants attempting to enter the United States and comes as the Biden administration continues to enforce harsh border policies blocking most people from safely entering through ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands are forced to take on deadly routes and rely on smugglers. This is San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: So, the plight of migrants seeking refuge is always a humanitarian crisis, but tonight we are dealing with a horrific human tragedy. So I would urge you all to think compassionately and pray for the deceased, the ailing, the families.
AMY GOODMAN: Three people have been arrested so far. It’s not clear if this is connected. This comes as human rights advocates are calling for the surviving migrants who aid federal investigators to be safe from deportation.
We go now to Texas. We’re joined by Fernando García, founder and executive director of the El Paso, Texas-based Border Network for Human Rights.
Fernando, welcome back to Democracy Now! First, if you can just respond to this horror of what took place in San Antonio yesterday?
FERNANDO GARCÍA: Amy, Juan, thanks for having me.
Listen, there is no words to describe what is happening right now at the border, especially here in Texas, and what is happening in San Antonio. What we are seeing is an unprecedented situation that is evolving and developing at the border. In our calculations, maybe this year we’re going to break all the records of migrants that are dying by crossing the border, while crossing the border. Maybe we’re going to be reaching this unprecedented number of more than 1,000 migrants a year. That means three migrants per day. I mean, this is not only sad, this is not only history, but this is ridiculous.
I mean, we need to understand that whatever connections we need to do, one of them, it is precisely the policy of deterrence used by the United States government, but also by the state of Texas, to actually prevent migrants to come to the country legally. I mean, what we are seeing is an effort, a concentrated effort, to actually expel immigrants, reject them, reject asylum seekers and families to come into the United States legally. So, many of these migrants are using ways that they didn’t use before. They are going into more isolated places. They are getting involved with these criminal organizations just to come across, because they are being rejected when they apply for asylum or refugee status. This is an unprecedented situation.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Fernando, I wanted to ask you — Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted about this, that these deaths are on Biden. And he blamed President Biden and his, quote, “open borders policy,” as Abbott calls it, for resulting in deaths like this, at the same time that the governor has sent National Guard and Texas Rangers in increased numbers to the border to prevent crossings. Your response?
FERNANDO GARCÍA: Listen, federal policy in place for decades already and recent policies as implemented by Trump era at the border, like Title 42, MPP and others, are directly responsible of this diversion of migrants going into these other ways of crossing the border without documents because they cannot come legally.
But let me tell you this: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, I mean, he’s playing a shameful political game. I mean, he is spending $8 billion a year to deploy his state troopers at the border in Texas, to actually — he called the National Guard to serve as the line of defense of the “invasion,” he called it, and also he’s building his own border wall. I mean, he’s the primary responsible of these migrants going into the deserts and into the mountains in Texas, where they are dying in greater numbers. I mean, this is on his hands. I mean, this is part of the policy of criminalizing immigrants, both at the state level and at the federal level.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And yet, here we are years and decades after the big immigration protests of 2006 trying to press for immigration reform, and Congress is no closer to trying to come up with a more comprehensive and humane immigration policy. What’s your sense of where we go from here?
FERNANDO GARCÍA: Listen, we had high hopes during the beginning of this administration that we probably would have a chance to actually passing immigration reform, to bring — to fix the system, to bring millions of people out of the shadows, to create pathways for people to come legally into the country, to end all of this human rights crisis happening at the border. But, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. And the administration, Biden administration, also is responsible of unfulfilled promises. I mean, he is keeping Title 42 and MPP as one of the main Trumpist anti-immigrant strategies at the border, with no reason. I mean, he is also playing politics with this. I mean, they are moving too slow in terms of the promise of creating a more humane border, and passing immigration reform didn’t happen. I mean, this year it didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen at least for the rest of the year, because we’re going to have elections, and immigration has always been a contentious political issue.
And at the end of the day, both parties actually throw the hot potato against each other, actually playing games with immigrants, while migrants are dying in these numbers, and there’s refugee camps at the border, and immigrants in the United States still exploited with no citizenship and rights. So I think it is, again, shameful that both parties actually have not only forgotten this issue of immigration reform, but also they continue pushing a narrative that is criminalizing immigrants, calling them rapists, an invasion, etc.
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court is expected any moment now to hand down a decision on MPP, on the “Remain in Mexico” policy. And you have people who are in Mexico waiting for up to two years now, the U.S. government deporting some — how many, what — 2 million people since March 2020 using Title 42. We also hear Guatemalan authorities saying there are some Guatemalans among the dead. Your final comments, Fernando García?
FERNANDO GARCÍA: Listen, I wouldn’t doubt that in those 46 migrants that died in San Antonio, maybe there was someone there that were expelled under Title 42, but they were waiting under MPP program. Both programs are meant to deter immigrants from coming to the country legally. They are meant to actually send them back to their country, to dissuade them from looking for a better life in the United States.
And if MPP, it is reinforced or reimplemented after the decision of the court, what we’re going to see is more people waiting in Mexico for their asylum case or their refugee status case to be resolved to come to the country between ports of entry, coming in those trucks also in the middle of that deserts, dying in canals and the river. So I think this is going to create more migrants dying in more unprecedented numbers. So, again, this is the wrong policy. This shouldn’t be — something should have been done earlier. And it’s shameful that we’re letting that many people die in our borders.
AMY GOODMAN: Fernando García, thanks so much for being with us, founder and executive director of the El Paso, Texas-based Border Network for Human Rights.
Coming up, we’ll stay in Texas. Is raising money to send pregnant people to another state to get an abortion considered aiding and abetting? We’ll speak with the head of an abortion fund in Texas.
The House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection has announced a surprise hearing today. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is expected to testify publicly. Hutchinson was previously interviewed by the committee behind closed doors, where she named several Republican lawmakers who inquired about pardons over their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. According to CNN, it was Hutchinson who revealed that Trump supported the mob’s chants of “Hang Mike Pence” on January 6 and that Trump had complained about Pence being hustled to safety while Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol.
Elsewhere, former Trump lawyer John Eastman revealed Monday that federal agents seized his cellphone last week as part of a broadening investigation into the insurrection. Meanwhile, Ali Alexander, the founder of the so-called Stop the Steal pro-Trump group said Monday he testified before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., last Friday. Alexander is suing the January 6 committee to prevent it from obtaining his phone records.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.
We end today’s show with a segment that some may find triggering in a different way, in lots of ways. We go to Rhode Island with state Senate Democratic candidate Jennifer Rourke. She was at an abortion rights rally on Saturday when her Republican opponent, Jeann Lugo, as she describes it, “punched me multiple times in the face.” And there’s video. Jeann Lugo is a Providence police officer who was off duty at the time.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jennifer Rourke. You’re running for the Rhode Island state Senate. He is your opponent. You’re co-founder of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative. Describe exactly what happened, as we roll the video.
JENNIFER ROURKE: I was successfully deescalating a situation with a counterprotester, and the gentleman had agreed to leave. And then chaos broke out. And when I looked to my left, there was Officer Lugo and his fist, and he punched me multiple times in my face.
AMY GOODMAN: He is your opponent for the Rhode Island state Senate, and he’s a police officer.
JENNIFER ROURKE: Yes. So —
AMY GOODMAN: He punched you in the face?
JENNIFER ROURKE: He did, multiple times. He is the Republican in this race. So, he is no longer in the race, though. He removed himself.
AMY GOODMAN: So, afterwards, he was, what, suspended from the police force, and then ultimately said he pulled out of the race?
JENNIFER ROURKE: Yes. He was put on paid administrative leave, and then he announced via Twitter that he was no longer going to run for office.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you think this would have happened if the video wasn’t there?
JENNIFER ROURKE: I am so thankful for Bill Bartholomew, the reporter that recorded it. But I don’t think this would have happened if Bill had not been there.
AMY GOODMAN: How are you feeling?
JENNIFER ROURKE: I actually — I can’t hear in my left ear. I have a constant ringing, and then just some tenderness in my face. But I feel better than I did Saturday.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about why you were there on Saturday?
JENNIFER ROURKE: As everyone is talking about now, on Friday morning, the SCOTUS decision came out to overturn Roe. And as a reproductive justice activist and organizer, an organization that I am a part of, we had a rally set for 8 p.m. that evening. So I was actually there in attendance as a board member of this organization. And I was speaking on how the overturning of Roe could lead to the reversal of Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence, and then especially Loving. And I am in an interracial relationship, so I was speaking on how this could overturn the validity of my marriage.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is really interesting. We were just talking about this, that Justice Thomas said — not joined by the other justices, but it may well be the direction that the court is going, that now they can move on to outlawing contraception, as well as gay marriage. He did not mention Loving, where you’re referring to the name of the case for interracial marriage. He is, you know, married to Ginni Thomas, who is — that’s a whole other story because of her involvement with the January 6th insurrection. But talk about what you feel you could accomplish as a state senator of Rhode Island, if you are elected.
JENNIFER ROURKE: So, when I get elected, we have the ability in the state to provide abortion access and reproductive care to those who are on Medicaid and to state employees. So, currently if you are a state employee for Rhode Island, you do not have access to the reproductive care, as far as abortion care, if you need it. Our previous governor had to choose one policy that did not cover abortion access, and they decided to choose nine. So, as a state employee, if you do have an ectopic pregnancy, or should you just decide you don’t want to start — you don’t want to start a family at the time, you have to pay out of pocket to cover your abortion procedure, when your insurance should cover it. So, as a senator, I will work hard to pass the Equality in Abortion Care Act — excuse me — and that’s to provide coverage to people on Medicaid and state employees to have the abortion care that they need.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us. And the case you’re referring to, Loving v. Virginia. Jennifer Rourke, candidate for Rhode Island state Senate.
That does it for our show. Happy Birthday to Jon Randolph! I’m Amy Goodman. Stay safe.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Kitty Kolbert, you argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the Supreme Court 30 years ago, in 1992. Roe was reaffirmed in that case. This was about what? Spousal consent, men having to give women their consent for an abortion?
KATHRYN KOLBERT: Right, it was that and a number of other restrictions in Pennsylvania law that were upheld. But I think, strikingly, in ’92, we expected the court to do exactly what they did here. And they didn’t, because Justice Kennedy changed his vote at the last minute.
But as a result of Casey, while it preserved legal abortion in most — in all states across the country, it meant that many women, particularly Black and Brown women, women who are poor, women who lived in rural areas, women who were young, had very, very difficult times obtaining abortions because of the restrictions that it permitted.
Now, unfortunately, today, as a result of this ruling, those same women will suffer much, much more, because their ability to obtain abortion will be totally circumscribed. It’s a really devastating opinion, one in which all of us need to be as angry as we can be and to channel that anger to making a difference and changing what the court has done through the legislative process.
AMY GOODMAN: And how do you do that, I mean, through the legislative process? Now the former vice president, Mike Pence, is calling for Congress, the legislative process, to pass a nationwide abortion ban.
KATHRYN KOLBERT: And they could do that. They could do that. If they take control of the House of Representatives and the Senate with a Republican president after 2024, they could easily do that. And Mitch McConnell has said it’s on the table, it’s something that they will consider, which is just McConnell speak for “We’re going to do that.”
Our response has to be to take — to keep control of the House, to win a majority in the Senate that includes two additional senators who are willing to bypass the filibuster rule, and pass statutory protection for women.
But the reality is that states are also a huge impediment on this issue. As you said earlier, 26 states are expected to ban abortion within the next couple of weeks or months. That means that 40% of women of childbearing age or more will be affected. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of women who will be seeking abortions for their unintended pregnancies having to travel hundreds and hundreds of miles to safe states.
And this is no way to provide healthcare. This is no way to live in a democracy. And it’s because the ultraconservative justices have taken back the Supreme Court and, frankly, have imposed their own ideological biases against all the rest of us. It’s a devastating ruling, and one in which our anger is appropriate and certainly should be heeded to make sure that we can switch this around.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, let’s talk about this moving pregnant people from one one state to another to have an abortion. The concerns of a number of, what, abortion funds, like one in Texas — corporations who said they’ll do this, they’ll pay for this — not clear that their workers would want to make it known to the corporation that they were pregnant. But abortion funds, for example, going inactive now, right at the time where they could get a lot of money, a lot of support all over the country, because they’re terrified that it means aiding and abetting. Can you clarify this? Or is the lack of clarity what will — is the plan that people will be afraid to do this, organizations will be afraid to do this, but it’s not actually codified in law, the ban, on that?
KATHRYN KOLBERT: Depend state by state, because some states, like Texas, prohibit aiding persons to self-manage their care. It’s not clear whether it also would prohibit women from traveling and aiding the travel. But the point is, you’re absolutely right, Amy, is the vagueness really scares people from taking action.
And let’s remember there’s like three things that are likely to happen. First, it’s women who could travel. And frankly, it is women with means who are most likely to travel, women who have the resources to be able to get on a plane or to drive 250 miles.
Other women will self-manage their abortion by taking abortion pills. And they will get them in a variety of ways, either through the internet or through prescriptions from foreign countries and, you know, mailing them from India or other pharmacies, or going to Mexico or going to Canada or, frankly, going to their friend who lives in Missouri and asking them — or, I mean, not Missouri, but going to California to their friend and asking for the pills there. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways to self-manage your care. But the problem — and I think Michele can talk about this even more graphically than I — is that many of those women will subject themselves to the potential of criminal prosecution, either for self-managing their care and getting the drugs illegally, or the people who are aiding or helping her to get information and to get the appropriate care.
You know, I think that we need to stand up and say this is not all right, make lots and lots of noise, a real — you know, make sure that these prosecutors who are adamantly opposed to abortion are taken out of office and defeated at the next election. And, you know, all of this will take time and will take effort and will take many, many millions of Americans standing up for our liberties. It’s possible. We have to start now.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to the tweet of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman from New York. This is a concise overview about the possible ways to respond:
– “Restrain judicial review
– Expand the court
– Clinics on federal lands
– Expand education and access to Plan C
– Repeal Hyde
– Hold floor votes codifying Griswold, Obergefell, Lawrence, Loving, etc
– Vote on Escobar’s bill protecting clinics
“We can do it! We can at least TRY,” she said.
Let me put this question to Professor Goodwin. One of the points she makes, and that Senator Warren has made, along with 25 other elected representatives, is this idea of opening — of providing abortion on federal land, called what, federal enclaves, where there are often hospitals, on military bases, to pregnant people in red states. Can you explain what this is about?
MICHELE GOODWIN: Sure. You know, it’s an interesting point, because in her confirmation hearings, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke about a client that she represented. It was Captain [Susan] Struck. This was before Roe v. Wade. And Captain Struck was in the military, and she was pregnant. She actually wanted to carry her pregnancy to term. The military required at the time that if you were in the military and a woman and pregnant, you must have an abortion or leave the military. Captain Struck wanted to stay pregnant. Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought that this would be a great case to challenge the laws that criminalized abortion, as in states, stay off; government, stay out of reproductive healthcare; let women decide on their own. Instead, it was the case that was Roe v. Wade, as we understand it, that the Supreme Court then ruled on 7 to 2 in 1973. But if you think about what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was trying to do at that time and what Captain [Susan] Struck wanted, it was that on military bases, abortions were already accessible, available, and, in fact, if you were an employee of the military, you had to have an abortion rather than keeping your pregnancy. And so, this idea is actually a long-standing idea, because it’s already been in practice on military bases even before Roe v. Wade. Women were able to get abortions if they were in the military.
And so, opening up these federal enclaves for this kind of reproductive healthcare is meaningful for not just a reaction to Dobbs, but there are medical deserts, reproductive healthcare deserts all across the country, and there is a dire need for people to get the reproductive healthcare that they need. So, even if we had not seen the result of this Dobbs decision, that would have been a smart thing to do, particularly given the very high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States that connects to a number of issues, but one of them being that there is not good reproductive healthcare that’s accessible for so many vulnerable people who live in these areas where it is very hard to find a clinic or a hospital to provide basic healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Kitty Kolbert, Thomas’s concurrence, Justice Thomas’s concurrence, where he writes that we should move on from here to gay marriage, to contraception, can you talk about this?
KATHRYN KOLBERT: Yeah, I think he’s the only one on the court or in the majority that is willing to tell the truth. You know, Justice Alito seems to backpedal and say, well, he doesn’t think — the only rights that are affected are abortion rights. Well, that’s just bunk. I mean, the reality is, is the rationale that the court used overturn Roe and Casey is equally applicable to a whole range of what are called unenumerated rights, or rights that aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution but derive from our notions of liberty and equality. And that includes contraception. That includes gay rights. It includes trans rights. It includes end-of-life care. It includes the ability to make decisions about one’s child’s education. There’s a host of liberties — the right to travel isn’t mentioned specifically in the Constitution. So there’s a host of interests that are at play here.
Interestingly enough, Justice Thomas didn’t mention the right to marry a person of a different race, maybe because it affects him personally, as opposed to all these others that are just, you know, people he doesn’t care about.
But the reality is, is I do think that this ruling is extremely, extremely broad. It is written in a way that can expand. And frankly, state legislators are already attacking us, attacking contraception, attacking trans people, attacking gay marriage in a host of ways. Those attacks will make their way to the Supreme Court. And frankly, I think this court is likely to expand the ruling significantly.
AMY GOODMAN: And we just have 30 seconds, Kitty Kolbert, but the message that you have devoted your book to, that you are commenting after the overturning of Roe, the subtitle of the book, What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom, the most important things people can do?
KATHRYN KOLBERT: Yeah, three things: one, help women; two, get active politically, that is, get involved in electoral politics — you may not like it, but we have to do it; and, most importantly, make some noise, because, of course, we can’t let them continue to take away our rights without saying defiantly that this is not OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Kathryn “Kitty” Kolbert, thank you so much for being with us, argued the landmark Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the Supreme Court 30 years ago, which upheld Roe. She also co-founded the Center for Reproductive Rights and is author of Controlling Women. Also want to thank professor Michele Goodwin, chancellor’s professor at University of California School of Law, author of Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood. We’ll link to your piece, “No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution.”
Next up, Missouri became one of the first states to enact a trigger law. We’ll speak with Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Missouri, about the stealth opening of a Planned Parenthood clinic across the border in Illinois as they close the Missouri clinic. Stay with us.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Today we spend the hour on the Supreme Court’s long-anticipated ruling Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established the constitutional right to abortion some 50 years ago. The conservative court ruled 6 to 3 Friday to uphold a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, while voting 5 to 4 to overturn Roe completely. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts supported upholding the Mississippi law but not overturning Roe. Nine states have already banned abortion since Friday; 17 more states are promising to do so soon.
In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, quote, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In their dissent, the court’s three liberal justices wrote, quote, “With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent.”
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas sided with the majority but argued in a concurring opinion that other key landmark rulings establishing gay rights, the right to contraception, as well, should also be overturned.
Protests broke out nationwide in response to the ruling and continued over the weekend as thousands marched nationwide, with some facing arrest and police brutality in Los Angeles and South Carolina.
PROTESTER: This Supreme Court thinks that they can put a law on this land that the majority of this country does not support, that will strip away the basic human rights of over half of the people living here! I’m mad!
AMY GOODMAN: In states with abortion bans already in place, many clinics immediately stopped offering abortions Friday, saying it was the best way to protect staff and patients because of the legal uncertainty, with providers canceling appointments, asking patients to seek help elsewhere.
At the same time, reproductive rights activists are mobilizing to support patients with travel, funds and more.
This is Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of We Testify, speaking at a protest this weekend.
RENEE BRACEY SHERMAN: It’s also going to be critical that you show up in four, five, six, seven, eight, nine months, and somebody is arrested for their stillbirth or their miscarriage or self-managing their abortions.
AMY GOODMAN: In our next segment, we’ll be going to Missouri, which became the first state to enact its trigger law after Friday’s ruling. This is Congressmember Cori Bush, a Democrat of Missouri, responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday.
REP. CORI BUSH: Forty-nine years — I’m sorry — 49 years, and they stripped it away. … Thirty-six million people will be affected, and it’s “Oh, well.” Thirty-six million people, it’s “Oh, well.” Thirty-six million people, and this is a far-right, extremist Supreme Court that’s making this decision that affects other people, that affects lives, when Black women were — when we know that Black women, the leading cause of death before 1973 was the sepsis, was the sepsis that went along with these unsafe abortions. And to say, “Hey, we’re good if we’re going back there. We’re gonna send you back there,” to know that people are already hurting, that people need services — this is healthcare. It’s like mental health. It’s like going to get your — get the services for heart disease, get services for a toothache. It is healthcare.
AMY GOODMAN: In the past, Congressmember Bush has shared that she was raped and got an abortion as a teenager.
President Biden denounced Friday’s ruling and vowed to protect access to abortion pills and contraception. Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and 25 other senators wrote a letter to Biden calling on him to open federal enclaves in red states to health clinics that provide abortion. This is Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO–CORTEZ: What I believe that the president and the Democratic Party needs to come to terms with is that this is not just a crisis of Roe, this is a crisis of our democracy. The Supreme Court has dramatically overreached its authority.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by two guests. In Philadelphia, Kathryn “Kitty” Kolbert is with us, co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She argued the landmark case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the Supreme Court in 1992, which upheld Roe. She’s the co-author of the book Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom.
Also with us is Michele Goodwin, chancellor’s professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, host of the Ms. magazine podcast On the Issues with Michele Goodwin and author of Policing The Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood. She just has a piece out in The New York Times headlined “No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution.”
We welcome you both back to Democracy Now! Professor Goodwin, let’s begin with you. Can you talk about your response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe after almost 50 years?
MICHELE GOODWIN: Well, it’s good to be back with you, Amy, on this show.
The decision itself, just as we saw with the leaked draft, has many errors, omissions. It has a selective, if not opportunistic, reading of American history. It does not center — in all of its claimed originalism, in all of its claimed textualism, interestingly enough, it avoids the 13th Amendment. It even avoids the first sentence of the 14th Amendment.
And here’s what my New York Times piece was about. It was that when Congress abolished, through the ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, they were not abolishing that just for Black men. They very well understood that involuntary servitude for Black women in the United States meant involuntary sexual assaults, rapes and then the reproduction after that, as Black women were forced to labor not only in the fields, but also labor under the weight, a different kind of shackling of slavery, which was sexual subordination and reproduction.
This was very well known. The abolitionist in Congress who led the way for the 13th Amendment spoke and wrote about this. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was nearly beaten to death in the halls of Congress two days after giving a speech about the raping of Black women. Sojourner Truth spoke to it. I mean, it was clear. The New York Times, there were articles about it. So the very idea that there was no one thinking about involuntary servitude as being consistent with involuntary reproduction is just absurdist. It was written about everywhere. Everyone knew this as being one of the devastating effects of American slavery. And it was abolished with the 13th Amendment. And then, later on, with the 14th Amendment, it was still recognized that Black women were psychologically, physically and reproductively still being harmed in Southern states. Their children were being denied citizenship. Their children were being snatched and taken away from them. And the 14th Amendment was therefore then ratified.
The piece goes into depth in all of these categories to give an education to the Supreme Court and to our country to remember this, because, otherwise, Black women have been essentially erased from the Constitution. And by erasing Black women from the Constitution, we ultimately erase all women from the Constitution, because the 13th Amendment and 14th Amendment not only freed Black women from these bondages, but it also freed white women from these bondages.
None of this is given any kind of reading by the originalists and textualists on the Supreme Court, who seem to ignore all of that and have now rendered us to a country where there are free states, where individuals can be free in their bodies, and also those where it is nonfree. And one can’t help but understand this as being so consistent with the patterns of slavery and Jim Crow in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about the trajectory right through to now. People of color are most affected by the lack of healthcare that will be available when abortion is outlawed in state after state. Can you talk about the Duke study, about Black maternal mortality, and how much higher it is than for white people who are pregnant?
MICHELE GOODWIN: Well, I’m glad that you mentioned that, because what is also alarming in this opinion, and also in the draft opinion, is how it gives no regard to facts, concurrent facts. The United States ranks 55th in the world in terms of maternal mortality. It is not in league with Germany, France, its peer nations. Instead, it’s in peer company with nations that still publicly lash and stone women.
In 2016, the Supreme Court’s own record showed that women were 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. Once we flash what this looks like in terms of race, then we really get a sense of the horror that’s behind all of this, and again with the Supreme Court deciding that it would pay no attention to it. So, in Mississippi, we’re looking at 118 times — Black women more likely to die 118 times by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. According to Mississippi’s own data from their Department of Health, a Black woman — 80% of the cardiac deaths in that state occur to Black women. Black women don’t make up 80% of the female population in the state but are 80% of the cardiac deaths during pregnancy. And nationally, they’re three-and-a-half times more likely than white counterparts to die due to maternal mortality.
But, Amy, that’s not all. If you actually look at certain counties within these anti-abortion states, then you see that Black women may be five or 10 or 15 times more likely to die by being forced to carry a pregnancy to term than by being able to have the medical care of an abortion. And it’s just that glaring and alarming. And what’s so stunning about it is that the Supreme Court gives no consideration to this data.
We are about to see a new wave of anti-abortion terrorism and violence, thanks to a Supreme Court majority that believes individual rights not only ought to flip around according to the whims of each new election but that if the U.S. Constitution makes things awkward, the states can designate private-citizen bounty hunters and evade whatever else the courts might say about it.
Sen. Ron Wyden is dead right when he warns that we’re about to see a new era in which women who seek abortions or who might seek abortions are going to have their digital data hunted down. Much of the hunting will be by Republican-state prosecutors looking to convict women who cross state lines into better, less trashy states to seek abortions that are now illegal in New Gilead. But in states like Texas, it’s likely to be private anti-abortion groups gathering up that data—not just to target women seeking abortion, but as potential source of cash. The $10,000 bounty on Texas women who get abortions after six weeks turns such stalking into a potentially lucrative career.
Sen. Wyden to Gizmodo: “The simple act of searching for ‘pregnancy test’ could cause a woman to be stalked, harassed and attacked. With Texas style bounty laws, and laws being proposed in Missouri to limit people’s ability to travel to obtain abortion care, there could even be a profit motive for this outsourced persecution.”
It’s not just that Republican prosecutors can subpoena data records of pregnant women looking for, for example, evidence that they might have looked up “pregnancy test” or “abortion pills” or “my remaining civil rights.” All of those would constitute “evidence” that woman who had a miscarriage might not have “wanted” her pregnancy—thus paving the way for criminal charges. It’s happened before, despite Roe, and after Roe falls will likely become a rote fixture of red-state prosecutions.
We’re likely to to see such subpoenas become a primary way for conservative state prosecutors to “prove” that American women crossing state lines did so to obtain now-criminalized abortions. “Even a search for information about a clinic could become illegal under some state laws, or an effort to travel to a clinic with an intent to obtain an abortion,” Electronic Privacy Information Center president Alan Butler told The Washington Post.
Republican states have already been examining ways to criminalize such travel. It’s coming, and American women will find that the phones they use to look up reproductive health questions can also be used by prosecutors to hunt them down for asking the wrong questions.
Bounty hunters looking for women to target may not have those same subpoena powers—though heaven knows what the future will bring, in a theocratic state that finds its best legal wisdom from colonial era witch hunters—but they will have the power of extremely amoral data tracking companies on their side. It was revealed just days ago that data broker SafeGraph, slivers of which may be hidden on your own phone inside apps that quietly collect and sell the information they gather on you, specifically offers tracking data for phones visiting Planned Parenthood providers—including the census tracks visitors came from and returned to.
For just $160, SafeGraph has been selling that data to anyone willing to buy it. It’s a trivial investment for bounty hunters eager to cross-reference such clues to find who to next target. It’s also a valuable tool for would-be domestic terrorists, of the sort that are going to be once again emboldened by a Supreme Court nod to their beliefs that not only should abortion be banned, but that activists are justified in attacking those that think otherwise. Nobody can plausibly think far-right violence will decrease, in the bizarre landscape in which they have finally achieved victory in half the states while being rebuffed by the others. It has never happened that way. It never will.
Another data miner, Placer, tracks Planned Parenthood visitors to their homes and provides the routes they took. Among the apps mining data for Placer is popular tracking app “Life360.”
If the Washington Post is to be believed, we’ve got a big problem, because if the White House wasn’t prepared for the news that the Supreme Court is poised to end federal abortion rights start, they have a serious lack of understanding of the reality in which we live.
“Biden officials spent much of Tuesday panicked as they realized how few tools they had at their disposal, according to one outside adviser briefed on several meetings,” the Post reports. “While officials have spent months planning for the possibility the court would overturn the landmark ruling,” the Post reports, “the leaked document caught the White House off guard.” It shouldn’t have. A leak is unusual, yes, but the only surprise in the contents is just how bloodthirsty Justice Samuel Alito is in coming after abortion, and ultimately all the other 20th century rights the court established.
“We will be ready when any ruling is issued,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday. Will they? Because they really should have seen this coming, and been prepared with some ideas by now. The fact that they pivoted to deficit reduction, of all things, as the message for Wednesday doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence that they’ll be ferocious in this fight. That they’ll be creative and that they will try everything to fix this, to tell the majority of Americans who support abortion rights that we’ve got a powerful ally in the fight.
Back in February, Shefali Luthra of The 19th News reported on the executive actions Biden can take. First, expand access to medication abortion, something the Food and Drug Administration can do. “The most significant thing the Biden administration has done is through the FDA, and the most significant things the Biden administration will be able to do going forward are through the FDA,” Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University who studies abortion, told Luthra.
The FDA has already acted to expand the availability of medication abortion. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it allowed for the pills to be prescribed virtually, via telemedicine, and provided through the mail. It also allowed online-only providers to mail the pills to patients in other states, including those with restrictive abortion laws. Those rules have been made permanent.
The two-pill regimen for medication abortion has been safely used for two decades, and now accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute. It’s approved for use up to 10 weeks, though it’s been demonstrated safe to use beyond 10 weeks, up to 20. In Great Britain, it’s used up to nearly 24 weeks.
“There is some support for the idea that states cannot ban FDA-approved medication,” Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, told the 19ths Luthra. “This is a novel legal argument. Maybe it would mean states cannot ban the sale of medication abortion, which would mean states must allow abortion up to 10 weeks.”
Forced birth groups are of course focusing on getting states to enact restrictions on medication abortion, and while there’s no precedent for FDA guidance to supersede state restrictions, it’s worth forcing the challenge.
The EMAA [Exanding Medication Abortion Access] Project has been having preliminary conversations with the administration, its director Kirsten Moore told the LA Times Jennifer Haberkorn. One thing they’re considering is pressing insurers to cover the drugs. “There is no obvious, one, two, three things to solve the problem,” she said. “We’re going to have to be really creative. And it may only be helpful on the margins—which may be important margins.”
Online providers of the medication are also getting creative. Aid Access, one of the sites, uses European healthcare providers and a pharmacy in India to provide the pills. It’s a relatively inexpensive option at $110, but takes up to four weeks. Another provider, PlanCPills.org has been gaming out the options for people in every state.
For instance, a patient in Texas—where abortion is banned after fetal cardiac activity is detected, or about 6 weeks of pregnancy—could – https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-09-17/is-this-legal-texans-scramble-to-get-abortions-out-of-state – drive across the border – into New Mexico and conduct a telehealth appointment with a doctor there. The pills can be shipped to a friend in New Mexico or a temporary mailbox the patient has set up in the state and forwarded to Texas. Or a patient could stay in Texas and directly buy the drugs from an online pharmacy at a cost of $200 to $500.
Another option for the federal government: federally-sponsored clinics or leases to abortion clinics on public lands. Located on federal lands, the clinics could be exempt from state laws. They could also be located on tribal lands, where tribal leaders would allow them.
“It is possible that clinics can operate on federal lands without having to follow state law. That has to be explored. The federal government needs to push the envelope,” David Cohen, a professor at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, told Luthra. “It’s not a slam-dunk legal argument, but these are the kinds of things that need to be tried.”
A new audio recording of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has reportedly captured him weighing whether to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove then-President Donald Trump from the White House two days after the assault on the Capitol.
With much attention largely trained right now on the Supreme Court after the leak of a draft opinion poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, McCarthy has managed a slight reprieve from the headlines.
It was just over a week ago that a different series of audio recordings featuring the House GOP leader went public and he was heard, in his own words, telling members of his party that he was prepared to call for then-President Donald Trump’s resignation.
In those recordings, and now in this new set, McCarthy’s private agony is yet again starkly contrasted against the public support—and cover—that he has ceaselessly heaped upon Trump.
The latest audio recordings—obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns as a part of their book, This Too Shall Not Pass and shared with CNN—reportedly have McCarthy considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as he listened to an aide go over deliberations then underway by House Democrats.
When the aide said that the 25th Amendment would “not exactly” be an “elegant solution” to removing Trump, McCarthy is reportedly heard interrupting as he attempts to get a sense of his options.
The process of invoking the 25th Amendment is one not taken lightly and would require majority approval from members of Trump’s Cabinet as well as from the vice president.
“That takes too long,” McCarthy said after an aide walked him through the steps. “And it could go back to the House, right?”
Indeed, it wasn’t an easy prospect.
Trump would not only have to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and Pence, but a two-thirds majority would have to be achieved in the House and Senate to overrule Trump.
“So, it’s kind of an armful,” the aide said.
On Jan. 7, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president’s allies to divorce themselves from Trump after he loosed his mob on them, Capitol Hill staff, and police.
“While there are only 13 days left, any day could be a horror show,” Pelosi said at a press conference where she called for the 25th Amendment to be put in motion.
Publicly, McCarthy would not budge.
The House voted 232-197 to approve a resolution that would activate the amendment on Jan. 13. McCarthy called for censure instead of impeachment through the 25th Amendment. Then, from the floor of the House, McCarthy denounced Trump.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said.
During the Jan. 8 call, the House GOP leader lamented that impeachment could divide the nation more. He worried it might also inspire new conflicts. He also told the aide he wanted to have Trump and Biden meet before the inauguration.
It would help with a smooth transition, he said.
In another moment in the recording after discussing a sit-down with Biden where they could discuss ways to publicly smooth tensions over the transition, McCarthy can be heard saying that “he’s trying to do it not from the basis of Republicans.”
But rather, “of a basis of, hey, it’s not healthy for the nation” to continue with such uncertainty.
Yet within the scant week that passed from the time McCarthy said Trump bore some responsibility for the attack and the impeachment vote, McCarthy switched gears again.
He didn’t believe Trump “provoked” the mob, he said on Jan. 21.
Not if people “listened to what [Trump] said at the rally,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy met with Trump at the 45th president’s property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida a week after Biden was inaugurated. Once he was back in Washington, the House leader issued a statement saying Trump had “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.”
They had founded a “united conservative movement,” he said.
Things are looking pretty good in the Georgia governor’s race.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic powerhouse Stacey Abrams, even with a late start entering the race, is nipping at the heels of Gov. Brian Kemp when it comes to campaign contributions.
Between February and April, Abrams raised $11.7 million, collecting contributions from over 187,000 donors, the AJC reports. And at the end of the reporting period, she claimed over $8 million in the bank.
But, just as the state enters midterms, and after a leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to The Washington Post, the Abrams camp temporarily paused fundraising, and instead began raising money for pro-choice groups in the state—The Feminist Women’s Health Center, SisterSong, ARC Southeast, Planned Parenthood Southeast, and others.
“This moment demands action, so I will be blunt: The abomination of that leaked opinion is coming to find every one of us,” Abrams wrote in a campaign email. “Women in Georgia and across this country. LGBTQ+ and disabled people. And particularly those of color or low-income. This is a terrifying time for our nation.”
According to the Associated Press, Kemp has reported $10.7 million in cash on hand, down from $12.7 million as of Jan. 31. Kemp’s had to spend big in the battle against Sen. David Perdue and his other Republican rivals. Abrams has spent over $9 million in TV, radio, and digital ads in the last five months, AJC reports.
In late April, a federal judge ruled in favor of Abrams to block Georgians First, Kemp’s leadership committee, from raising unlimited money for him until he became the official GOP nominee on May 24. The rule applies equally to Abrams; until the primary is over she is unable to raise money from her leadership committee.
Perdue hasn’t released his financial records, but according to AJC, his last report ended with an underwhelming $1 million in the bank, despite backing from former President Trump.
Meanwhile, in the Sen. Raphael Warnock battle against the assumed GOP nominee and COVID-spray salesman, Herschel Walker in November, in mid-April, the AJC reported that Warnock broke records as he collected $13.6 million in the first quarter of 2022. Walker ended 2021 with around $5 million in the bank.
Border Patrol agents have not been counting the total number of migrants who’ve died attempting to cross the harsh southern borderlands, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report. Some immigrant rights advocates have estimated that as many as 10,000 migrants have died from exposure and other elements within the last two decades, a number significantly higher than what border officials have stated. The watchdog report confirms the fears of many: they just haven’t been counting them.
“Border Patrol has not collected and recorded, or reported to Congress, complete data on migrant deaths, or disclosed associated data limitations,” the office said. The Tucson sector highlighted in the report is representative of the border agency’s overall negligence.
“Border Patrol sector officials from the four sectors we contacted told us that they coordinate with external entities—such as medical examiners—when remains are discovered,” the report said. But investigators said that a collaborative effort between the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and humanitarian organization Humane Borders, Inc. recorded higher numbers than border officials in the region.
While investigators highlight the implementation of the Missing Migrant Program in 2017 “to help rescue migrants in distress and reduce migrant deaths along the southwest border,” they note the agency “does not have a plan to evaluate the program overall.” But actions by border agents indicate that while there’s a program to aid distressed immigrants in name, the action has been continued harassment.
Take No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization with one goal: To prevent the agonizing deaths of migrants in the desert, where temperatures commonly rise into the triple digits. But the group has been repeatedly harassed by border agents throughout multiple administrations, most recently last summer. The year prior, the same tactical unit that harassed anti-police violence protesters in Portland helped raid No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid station.
This escalation began when the organization released shocking footage of grinning border agents destroying jugs of water left for migrants in the desert. Humanitarian workers had said containers were being routinely tampered with by human hands. While racist border vigilante extremists have eagerly confessed to some of the destruction, human rights groups had suspected Border Patrol as well. The footage proved them right.
“The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands,” No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos said in the report. Warning: The following footage is disturbing.
It is a fact that harsh immigration policies have helped led to this tragic death toll. The common misconception is that stricter policies make a more secure border, but deterrence policies beginning in the mid-1990s have only killed migrants, by knowingly pushing them into more and more dangerous terrain. “Of course, the U.S. government knew that Prevention Through Deterrence would send people to their deaths,” researcher John Washington told Rewire’s Tina Vasquez in 2016.
“If you look at the strategic plan for Prevention Through Deterrence, it is clearly stated that they were going to use the landscape as an ally,” Washington continued in the report. “Everything that’s outlined implies greater suffering. These are people in charge of the Southwest border, of course they knew that walking for five days in these conditions would kill people.”
Earlier we noted Border Patrol’s Missing Migrant Program, which is supposed to aid migrants in crisis. Vasquez reported last year that advocates have led their own initiative, with a similar goal of aiding missing migrants. But she said that when advocates have fielded urgent calls to border officials, they have frequently gone ignored.
“In 63% of all distress calls referred to Border Patrol by crisis line volunteers, the agency did not conduct any confirmed search or rescue mobilization whatsoever—this includes 40% of cases where Border Patrol directly refused to take any measures in response to a life-or-death emergency.”
Count Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum Title 42 among failed border policies, experts have said. The policy, which may or may not end at the end of this month depending on a GOP-led lawsuit, has only resulted in higher apprehensions at the border. “That is because under Title 42, individuals who are expelled to Mexico within hours after apprehension can simply try again a second or third time in hopes of getting through.” And sometimes through ways that may cost them their lives.