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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Unspeakable Justice; President Bush Praises Brothers in Arms; Fetus Pain Study Complicates Abortion Debates
Aired August 24, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you all for joining us tonight.
Tonight, a little-known and controversial loophole that could let an accused killer go free.
ZAHN (voice-over): An outrageous crime and an obvious suspect. But he can't hear, can't speak, and, unbelievably, because of that, he may never face justice.
MAJOR STAN STOUT, JAMES CITY POLICE: It worries me, yes, that he could be turned loose.
ZAHN: Her four sons are in harm's way and winning praise from the president.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts.
What does this mother think of the anti-war moms? I will ask her.
And stuffed monkey business, a startling look at how a stuffed doll can save the lives of two tiny newborns.
ZAHN: We start tonight with a baffling true crime drama. We've never heard anything like this one before.
It's about the murder of a teenage girl, and it's baffling, but not because there are no suspects. In fact, there is a suspect, and investigators say strong evidence points to him. What makes this case so difficult is that the suspect can't communicate to defend himself. So, how can you give him a fair trial? How can justice be done for the victim?
Here's Tom Foreman with the rest of the story.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last minutes of Britney Binger's life were spent on this county road in Virginia on what should have been just an evening walk. The day after New Year's, Britney, 16 years old and estranged from her parents over personal issues, leaves the trailer park where she lives with a friend, walking to another neighborhood nearby. The area is well traveled, but in a dark cluster of trees, police say a man grabs her from behind, drives her to the ground, rapes and chokes her to death.
Kristin Thurston was the friend Britney was staying with. She heard about the murder at work the next morning.
KRISTIN THURSTON, FRIEND OF VICTIM: I did 90 all the way home, just hoping it wouldn't be her. But, as soon as I got up there, I mean, they still had her on the ground, and I could see just a little bit of the sleeve of the jacket that she was wearing.
FOREMAN (on camera): And when you saw the jacket, you knew?
THURSTON: Then I knew it was her. It was just so awful.
FOREMAN (voice-over): With the crime happening only a few miles from historic Williamsburg, an important tourist attraction, police knew they had to move quickly to ease fears. Major Stan Stout, in charge of the investigation, says Britney's vagabond life complicated the case from the beginning.
(on camera): This girl was leading a pretty troubled life.
STOUT: Yes, she was, just bouncing from one home to another, anybody that would take her in. And one of the first things we did was looked on the sex offender registry and realized that, within a five-mile radius, we had a number of sex offenders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were chasing down so many rumors. You know, we were just, I mean all of us, just basically saturating this area.
FOREMAN (voice-over): And senior investigator William Gibbs (ph) admits the evidence at the beginning was thin. There was some skin under Britney's left fingernails. They found a new bottle of Minute Maid strawberry passion fruit drink near the body. Bloodhounds led them along Britney's path to a convenience store and to a bar.
FOREMAN: Where the dogs took special interest in one booth.
STOUT: It's a local crowd, the same folks in there most all the time. Talked to the bartender, who was sitting there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bartender says, well, as a matter of fact, that's where the Mexican was sitting.
FOREMAN: So, officers say they tracked down that man, who turned out to be an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, living in this shed behind his brother's trailer. Police say they snapped this picture and added it to the stack of potential suspects, now growing at an alarming rate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case, it seemed, the more people we talked to, instead of narrowing it down, that, actually, the circle expanded.
FOREMAN: One month in, police were floundering, the neighborhood increasingly tense.
(on camera): What was the reaction in this neighborhood?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Astounding. It was just -- it -- I -- we couldn't believe it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That whole month period, that's really when everybody was kind of scared to go outside. Nobody really trusted anybody.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Then a break. Police had wanted to look at the pictures from the digital security cameras at the convenience store for weeks, but they say they had trouble opening the computer files.
An officer finally cracked the system, and this is what they saw, right at the cooler the dogs had tracked to. Police say it is Oswaldo Martinez, the man from El Salvador, with something in his hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tightened up the picture, tightened it up, until we see Minute Maid strawberry passion fruit drink, 20 ounces.
FOREMAN: Police say then the evidence all came together. Remember the skin under Britney's left fingernails?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would your reaction be if you were being attacked from behind?
FOREMAN (on camera): You're fighting back like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.
FOREMAN (voice-over): When investigators dug up that first photo of Martinez, they say they noticed something they had missed before, a clear scratch on the left side of his jaw. Police wanted only one more thing. So, two undercover officers went to the bar and waited until they say Martinez showed up, had a beer and left. Then they pounced on the empty bottle.
STOUT: DNA from the beer bottle, the known beer bottle we saw him drinking from, matched the DNA on the Minute Maid fruit drink bottle, which matched the DNA on her left fingernails, and matched the DNA that was inside her body cavities.
FOREMAN: Martinez was charged with capital murder.
THURSTON: We were relieved that they had finally got him. It was just blown out the water that he actually lived in this trailer park and some of the kids around here knew him. FOREMAN (on camera): But the relieved community did not know that there was something special about this suspect, something that even now may keep him from ever being tried for the crimes that happened right here.
He neither reads nor writes English nor Spanish. And he's a deaf mute.
(voice-over): In legal terms, it is called linguistic incompetence. In practical terms, it means Martinez may be unable to fully understand what is happening, explain his actions, or offer any evidence to contradict the police. So, as hard as it is to believe, his disability might let him walk away from all charges a free man.
Paul Rothstein is a legal expert at Georgetown University.
PAUL ROTHSTEIN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's all well and good to say, well, the case is an open-and-shut case. What do we need him for? But you could say that in many cases. There is no substitute for the person him or her self being able to understand and communicate with their counsel.
FOREMAN: Martinez's family won't talk about the case. Police say they've been cooperative, but much is at stake now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buenas tardes.
FOREMAN: The court could, after all, order Oswaldo Martinez held, taught sign language, and then put on trial. His lawyer, despite a repeated request, says he will not talk about that possibility either.
But, earlier, he told a local newspaper, we're dealing with a guy who doesn't have any base of linguistics. He doesn't have a grammar system. It's like teaching a baby.
THURSTON: And who's to say he wants to learn how to do it? Because he knows -- I know he got to know up in his head that, once he learns, he going to die. And that's all there is to it.
FOREMAN: And police say, in a five-hour interrogation using a Spanish interpreter, hand signals and anatomically correct dolls, Martinez confessed.
STOUT: Very difficult. Very rough.
FOREMAN (on camera): You don't have any doubt that this is the guy and that he admitted it, no doubt?
FOREMAN (voice-over): Martinez's lawyer says they don't know what he was trying to say. They just think they do.
The Supreme Court has already ruled, if you cannot put someone on trial or prove he has a dangerous mental condition, you must set that person free.
ROTHSTEIN: So, there is some chance that fellow may walk the streets without ever having any kind of commitment.
STOUT: It worries me, yes, that he could be turned loose.
FOREMAN: Martinez is still being held and will soon begin what is expected to be a long series of hearings about his competency. And, remember, if his lawyer is successful, he could wind up free, never to face this murder charge again. But where Britney Binger lived and died, the verdict is already in and unspeakable.
THURSTON: There will never be justice for her. And that's horrible. After the life she had, now she can't even be dead and in peace.
ZAHN: A case we will be watching, Tom Foreman reporting for us tonight.
And still ahead, we change our focus quite a bit. Why would efforts to ease pain ever be controversial?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The legislation currently being considered and enacted in both state legislatures and in the Congress is politically motivated and is not medically motivated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Coming up, science, politics, and one of the most divisive issues in the country.
And a little bit later on, amid news that even more troops are heading to Iraq, I will ask a mother who has four sons there already what she thinks about Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war movement.
ZAHN: Still ahead, the story of two tiny orphans who found a substitute mom, with some help from some very clever humans.
Right now, though, 15 minutes past the hour, or just about 15 past the hour, is Erica Hill at Headline News, give or take 30 seconds.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will work, Paula.
ZAHN: I really can count.
HILL: I know you can. I believe you. Paula, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson is apologizing today for calling the assassination of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez. Now, at first today, Robertson said his comments were taken out of context. Then later, he issued a statement saying -- quote -- "Is it right to call for assassination? No. And I apologize for that statement."
People in South Florida preparing now, as Tropical Storm Katrina edges toward the coast, just what they want to hear. A man near Palm Beach trimmed his palm tree to keep loose fronds from hitting his home. Katrina formed off the Bahamas today. The storm could hit Florida as early as Friday. Forecasters say it could become a weak hurricane by then. Now, the storm is also threatening to dump as much as a foot of rain in an area already soaked by summer downpours.
New Jersey's Fort Monmouth will be shut. And more than 5,000 jobs will be lost at the base. However, the Base Closing Commission did spare two Navy facilities today in Connecticut and Maine. Congress and President Bush can either accept or reject those closings, but they can't tamper with the list.
Police confiscate alligators, turtles and snakes in a raid on a reptile collection in Los Angeles. Now, the raid resulted from an investigation that began with the discovery of an alligator in a South L.A. lake. Two people were arrested on charges of releasing the dangerous gator, Paula. I don't know about that one.
ZAHN: Didn't get away with it for too long, did they?
ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. I will see you back at the end of the hour.
Coming up, what would you do if the president called your name?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Here in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Well, coming up, she has four sons now serving in Iraq, husband home from Iraq, another son home from Iraq. What does she think of the other moms who are protesting against the war?
ZAHN: Take a look at the crowds of cameras waiting for Cindy Sheehan today in Texas when she got back, after a few days away from leading the peace protests outside the president's ranch in Crawford.
As polls keep showing support for the war in Iraq slipping, this week, President Bush is hitting the road to fight back. Today, he was in Idaho, speaking with National Guard troops, where he singled out one Army mom, Tammy Pruett. She happens to have four sons in Iraq right now and a husband and another son who also serve there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Tammy says this, and I want you to hear this: I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country.
And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in.
America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: In a moment, I will be speaking with Tammy Pruett and her husband and ask them how they think the war is going.
But, first, here is Alex Quade, who recently caught up with the four Pruett sons serving in Iraq.
ALEX QUADE, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Eric, an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart.
2ND LT. ERIC PRUETT, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: We are here. We are armed. We are ready for business.
QUADE: Jeff, a grocery store clerk.
PFC. JEFF PRUETT, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: We have got to protect your backs.
QUADE: Evan, a bartender.
SPC. EVAN PRUETT, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: I just hope nothing bad happens.
QUADE: And Greg, a missionary.
SPC. GREG PRUETT, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: I just hope and pray that everything is OK.
QUADE: Four citizen soldiers with something in common, their last name, Pruett, four brothers deployed with different units in Kirkuk.
They have been away from home for a year, living under constant threat and worry for each other.
J. PRUETT: I was worried, you know, what's the chances of four of us coming over to Iraq, where it's combat and all of us making home? So, it kind of scared me at first and I didn't like the idea.
Came in over the top of us and landed about -- about 200 meters from us.
Did you see guys with A.K.'s from that house?
QUADE: Youngest brother, Jeff.
J. PRUETT: Those two shepherds over there said it came from that direction.
QUADE: Is on house-to-house searches.
J. PRUETT: It's not a raid. You just knock and then you go in.
QUADE: Training new Iraqi forces.
J. PRUETT: Let the police go in first and then we follow in behind them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They looked in here, too?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. One of them was already...
QUADE: Jeff just turned 20.
J. PRUETT: Hey, what is your name? Good. Go to school. School is good? You go to school, OK? School. School.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chocolata.
J. PRUETT: I don't got chocolata. Go to school, man.
QUADE (on camera): Do you think that your parents worry more about you because you are the youngest out here?
J. PRUETT: No. I think my mom is scared out of her mind for every one of us.
J. PRUETT: And so, just because we're gone and in a combat zone.
G. PRUETT: All right.
QUADE (voice-over): Middle brother Greg lives at the former summer home of Chemical Ali.
G. PRUETT: This right here is what -- actually where he used to hang and torture some of his people.
QUADE: Chemical Ali is the king of spades in that deck of cards. He's accused of gassing a Kurdish village in the '80s and is awaiting trial.
G. PRUETT: When I first got here, I kind of thought about it a little bit. And it was kind of eerie thinking about it and thinking about what he used to do here.
But you have to put all that aside and just try and focus on what we're doing here and remember that we're trying to help change all of the past.
This is Halcom (ph) on radio check. Over. Hal (ph) base, Hal base, this is Halcom on radio check. Over.
QUADE: Greg is a communications expert.
G. PRUETT: You know, let's say this antenna goes down and we get attacked really bad. We lose communications with the outside. And we can't call for backup if we need it or anything like that.
QUADE: While we are there, a pipeline blows up near the base.
G. PRUETT: They like to blow the pipelines with IEDs or different types of explosives.
QUADE: In this incident, nine Iraqi security guards were killed; 40 percent of Iraq's oil comes from this area. Insurgent attacks cost have $8 billion in lost revenue that could have been used for reconstruction.
G. PRUETT: I think it is a little edgy here sometimes. When you hear the mortars come in and stuff, you just kind of hope and pray that everything is OK.
You know, being a radio operator, I hear everything that goes on. And so, when I hear stuff is happening or hear about IEDs and stuff like that, I just kind of get this queasy feeling in my stomach and say, hopefully, my brothers are OK. Hopefully, the guys out there are OK. And...
ERIC PRUETT: Let's mount up.
QUADE: Big brother Eric is a tank platoon commander who now patrols Kirkuk by Humvee and on foot. He's responsible for 23 soldiers and also trains Iraqi police.
ERIC PRUETT: Weapon at the ready? Good. Weapons on safe? No cell phones. No smoking when we are out walking. Make sure we're talking to the people, being friendly, too. That's important.
QUADE: The police here are targeted here by insurgents, even during funerals.
ERIC PRUETT: Is there any civilians hurt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, two.
ERIC PRUETT: Two hurt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
QUADE: The day after we taped this, Eric's unit found an improvised explosive device here.
ERIC PRUETT: We take it personal. And that is why we've had a renewed effort to try and train these guys to keep themselves alive, because, I mean, if it's not them, it's us.
QUADE: Which is why he needs to know the word on the streets and in the mosques.
ERIC PRUETT: We're here toting bulletproof vests and weapons everywhere we go and guys pulling security even as we talk now. I mean, at any moment, anything could happen and we need to be ready for that.
QUADE (on camera): What was it like for you the first time when you came under fire?
ERIC PRUETT: It was pretty intense.
QUADE (voice-over): An understatement. His platoon has survived five gunfights, three IEDs, improvised explosive devices, three rockets, and nine mortar attacks.
ERIC PRUETT: It's difficult. We have got two missions here. We got to provide security for ourselves and the people here. But we also got to, at the same time, make the people feel like we're here to help them and not just be occupiers and that sort of thing.
QUADE: And even on patrol...
ERIC PRUETT: Want a piece of candy?
QUADE: ... Eric never stops worrying about his brothers.
ERIC PRUETT: I'm concerned for all of us. I just have to trust that there's guys taking care of my brothers when I can't be there.
EVAN PRUETT: Whatever is broken, they will bring to us and we try to fix it as fast as we can.
QUADE: Evan's job is critical. He fixes the vehicles his brothers and their units use for missions and repairs those damaged by roadside bombs.
EVAN PRUETT: That keeps my brother's unit, you know, that is infantry right now up and running. You know, they got to go through the town and all that, and if they don't have vehicles that work, they can't do their job.
QUADE: In a way, you're still helping the brothers?
EVAN PRUETT: Yes, I'm helping my brothers.
QUADE: Watching their backside?
EVAN PRUETT: Yes. That's how I look at it is, I'm helping my brothers get through their day.
QUADE: While we're taping, a recruiter tries to sign Evan up for six more years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would they pay for my school is what I'm...
FOREMAN: But Evan's got other things on his mind, like what's happened to his wife, Amber, since we last talked to him. It began with an urgent e-mail from his dad. Amber's water broke. We will let you know what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just ready for the baby to come already.
QUADE: Evan's mom, Tammy, shoots home video, since he can't be here. It's Evan, calling from Iraq.
TAMMY PRUETT, MOTHER OF FOUR SONS SERVING IN IRAQ: Evan says he's proud of you. Push, push, push.
QUADE: After 24 hours of labor...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear him?
QUADE: Evan hears his daughter's first cries by phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, talk to daddy. Just give him hell.
QUADE: You are seeing this video even before the new daddy has.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's finally here.
QUADE: At least he was able to call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's fine. He heard her cry.
EVAN PRUETT: I wish I could have been there for my first girl, first kid altogether. I wish I could have been there.
QUADE: So, for now, reenlisting is on Evan's back burner.
EVAN PRUETT: The whole thought of being gone away from your family for 18 months, a year, whatever it is going to be, it's tough. I just hope nothing bad happens. I just want us all to be safe and all my brothers and everything to go home and be with our families.
ZAHN: And that was Alex Quade reporting.
Joining me now, Captain Leon Pruett and his wife, Tammy.
So good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.
I know that, today, on many levels was pretty overwhelming for you emotionally, when the president honored the military service of your family. But I understand two of your sons from Iraq also got to see this speech as it happened. What did they think, Tammy?
T. PRUETT: They were thrilled. They were honored that we were recognized, and it was really a fun moment for them.
ZAHN: There are so many things that must keep you awake at night. What is your chief concern as your son's service continues over there?
T. PRUETT: My greatest concern is that we stand firm, that we stand behind the president, that we continue this battle until it's done and we bring all of our boys and women home safely, but not until it's ready.
ZAHN: And, Leon, at the time that your wife is making that call, of course, you have Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, trying to convince the president to pull the troops out immediately. There's got to be a part of you, in spite of your service in Iraq, that has to have some -- some doubts, though, about what American military personnel face in Iraq today.
CAPT. LEON PRUETT, FATHER OF FOUR SONS SERVING IN IRAQ: You know, Paula, I guess Cindy and the other folks that have lost loved ones over there, you know, we grieve with them and we're sorry for their losses and empathize with them and their families and what they're going through.
We don't have anything against anybody that wants to protest or do anything like that. That's wonderful. Isn't it right -- isn't it wonderful that we have that right in this country to be able to do that?
ZAHN: Tammy, do you think Cindy is dishonoring the service of those that are currently in Iraq fighting?
T. PRUETT: You know, that's a really tricky question.
Personally, as a mother, I feel her pain. Obviously, I can't feel it to the extent that she does. But I totally empathize with her feelings. It wouldn't be the way that I would choose to honor one of my sons if it happened to our family.
Leon, I know you say that you want American troops to stay in Iraq until they get the job done. And yet we've now heard the latest timetable may leave 100 thousand troops or so in Iraq for another four years. Do you think Iraq could become another Vietnam?
L. PRUETT: Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely not. When I came home, I even made a statement publicly that, you know, I felt that we would probably be there at least five years after the time that I came home. And so that's pretty close to what the timetable is that they're saying now. And that's just because we've got to get the stability over there. And get everything in their government set up and let them take their country back over and be prepared to do 100 percent of it. ZAHN: And one last question for you, Tammy. What's it like every time the phone rings around your house with four sons currently deployed in Iraq?
T. PRUETT: The only time that it really makes my heart beat a little faster is if it happens in the middle of the night. And Greg, unfortunately, doesn't pay a lot of attention to time. And since he's a communication officer, he can pick up a phone at any time that he wants to, especially when he's on duty in the middle of the night. Mostly it's just excitement when we get to actually hear their voices.
ZAHN: Well, your family's service to this country is absolutely extraordinary. Captain Pruett, Tammy Pruett, thank you both. I know you've had a very big day.
T. PRUETT: Thank you, Paula.
L. PRUETT: Yes, we have.
ZAHN: Thank you. And you can find much more about the Pruetts and their sons on our Website, CNN.com.
And there's a big political fight over something you'd think that everybody could agree on. Coming up next, the scientific controversy and alleged ulterior motives of a fight over pain.
ZAHN: We've got a story for you now that people have been debating all day long. A study on whether a fetus can actually feel pain, mentally or physically, and if it does should doctors be required to talk about it with women seeking abortions. Here's Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Even in adults pain is a difficult thing to measure. Sure, someone might say ouch. Or they might have an increase in blood pressure or heart rate. But in a fetus, it's pretty near impossible.
DR. DAVID GRIMES, OB/GYN: One cannot directly measure pain in a fetus. Hence it's really an unknowable question.
GUPTA: But Dr. David Grimes, professor of obstetrics, who used to work with the study's authors, says it has proven one essential point to him -- not so much whether you can measure pain in a fetus, but whether they could ever feel it in the first place.
GRIMES: The fetus cannot feel pain or unpleasant stimuli, because the neural networks, that is, the telephone lines that would carry the message, aren't connected until week 26.
GUPTA: Simply put, if the nerves aren't there to transmit the feeling of pain back to the brain, then for a fetus, pain doesn't exist. GRIMES: Fetal perception of pain, we can say that this potential does not exist. So the question becomes moot.
GUPTA: Backwards thinking, says pain doctor and my namesake Sanjay Gupta. In a written statement, Gupta, the founder of the American Pain Association, reminds us of this. Until about 1987, the medical community thought newborns do not feel pain. We were doing circumcisions and even heart surgeries without anesthesia.
Dr. K. S. Anand, a pediatrician at university of Arkansas, told "The New York Times" that there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that pain occurs in the fetus. He says that premature babies only 23 or 24 weeks old cry when their heels are pricked for blood tests. Diametrically opposing views with the very issue of abortion sitting smack dab in the middle of it all.
GRIMES: We can say categorically that a fetus undergoing abortion in the United States cannot feel pain.
GUPTA: The researchers decided to look into this because of pressure from lawmakers to create a bill requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortion that at 20 weeks of gestation a fetus can feel pain. Similar laws have been recently passed in three states and are under consideration in 19 others.
GRIMES: Legislation currently being considered and enacted, in both state legislatures and in the Congress, is politically motivated and is not medically motivated.
GUPTA: But to be clear, it's worth noting that Dr. Grimes currently delivers babies and performs abortions. Also, one of the study authors, who claims pain cannot be felt by a fetus, is an administrator of a women's clinic, which provided abortions, and another worked for the pro-choice group Naral.
Consider this, when a sharp instrument is used to prod a fetus, they move away. Reflexively, or because of pain? Truth is, because none of us will ever remember being in the womb the question may never be answered. But that's not going to keep doctors, politicians, or activists from trying.
ZAHN: So Sanjay, this story gets even murkier now that you have these charges that these doctors didn't identify that they were involved in clinics that did abortions. But the bottom line, did the folks who do this study, are they standing by it?
GUPTA: Yes. The Journal of the American Medical Association, which is peer reviewed, meaning other doctors look at the studies before they publish them, highly respected journal, I will add as well, is standing behind the study. The study authors did not disclose their affiliations. We mentioned there one was an administrator of a women's clinic that performed abortions. One was associated with the pro-life group Naral. But the science is still there. And the JAMA article is standing behind the science, Paula. ZAHN: You're a guy who's been practicing surgery a long time. You know an awful lot about fetal surgery. What are the implications of this debate?
GUPTA: So interesting. Because you know, when you talk about fetal surgery, they do administer anesthesia when performing fetal surgery. I asked the same question, well why administer anesthesia if the fetus cannot feel pain? The answer I got back was, well, you still need to immobilize the fetus so the fetus does not move during the operation, for example. But the people that we asked, the study authors, the people who are affiliated with the study say that in no way means that the fetus can experience pain simply because we're administering anesthesia.
ZAHN: Fascinating to talk about. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for the help. And joining me now are two people on opposite sides of this debate. Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee and Dr. Beverly Winikoff of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. Glad to have both of you with us. Doug, I'm going to start with you tonight. I know that you think the study is compromised because of the affiliations of at least two of the five authors of the study. But you also heard what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, that JAMA is standing by this study and the integrity of this study. Will you accept at a bare minimum the finding that at least up until 20 weeks a fetus can't experience pain?
DOUGLAS JOHNSON, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE: Well, I don't think that's at all clear. But what the real argument is about is the fifth and sixth months. So we're talking about 20 to 27 or 28 weeks.
And consider -- this was touched on in your report -- but consider in every major hospital neonatal unit there are many babies at 23 and 24 weeks who survive long-term. No doctor nowadays would do an incision on one of those babies without pain relief.
And yet, the authors of this study are asking the readers to believe that six weeks later, the child in the womb does not feel pain. That defies common sense. If they can feel it at 23 or 24 weeks when born prematurely, they certainly are feeling it in the womb at 23, 24 weeks and long before the 29-week mark.
ZAHN: Dr. Winikoff, does the science support what Doug Johnson just said?
WINIKOFF: Well, what the science says in this study is that after reviewing 2,000 articles in the entire medical literature on this subject, there is no convincing evidence that a fetus could feel pain before the third trimester of pregnancy.
ZAHN: You're talking at what, the 20-week mark?
WINIKOFF: That's 26 weeks.
ZAHN: But you heard what Doug just said. He said that he believes if -- if there's a potential between 23 and 24 weeks, a fetus can experience pain. WINIKOFF: People can believe what they wish. People have reasons for believing aside from science. But science says that there should be no ability to perceive pain before the 26th week.
ZAHN: But you would have to concede, there isn't a widespread consensus on this compilation of studies. So why not give women a warning that they might want to....
WINIKOFF: Well, I think these are...
ZAHN: ... seek anesthesia if they're having an abortion that late into a pregnancy?
WINIKOFF: There are a few reasons. I think this study is extremely non-controversial among real scientists. This is the science. So from the point of view of good science, this study meets all the standards. The problem that we're talking about has to do with talking to women. And of course, women should be told all available information when it's real information, not when it's supposition, hypothesis, belief. And the real information is what's contained in this article. The third part is could a woman get fetal anesthesia if she wanted it? And the answer to that is no, because it's not available.
ZAHN: What about that, Doug? And particularly at a time when legislation is being debated in states all across the country that would require doctors to warn women about this pain threshold issue. Do you concede that this fetal anesthesia is not widely available and even if it were, isn't it pretty clear that it would add increased risk to the mother?
JOHNSON: What these bills require is that information be provided, basic minimal information that there is substantial evidence. And regardless of what the doctor said, science does not say this. There are many highly credentialed, eminent scientists with credentials far greater than the people who produced this report, who say that there is pain...
ZAHN: But Doug, come back with a question. Is...
JOHNSON: ... in the fifth and sixth month.
ZAHN: But is the anesthesia widely available for fetuses at that stage of the pregnancy?
JOHNSON: They administer anesthesia in fetal surgery. They administer -- they do different things to babies during abortions, inserting needles into the fetus, even hitting the heart when they want to using ultrasound. So when there's an interest or a need, they will develop those methods. But right now the abortion providers have no interest in this. They have no concern about the pain experienced by these unborn children in the fifth and sixth month. That's the real problem.
ZAHN: Is that true? Is there no concern about the pain threshold of a fetus, Dr. Winikoff? WINIKOFF: I can't speak to everybody's concerns. But, of course, people are concerned about the women who come to them as patients and usually in very difficult circumstances and want them to know everything there is to know about the procedures that they're going through. And I'm sure that most physicians would be happy to talk to patients about the possibility of fetal pain when that exists.
ZAHN: Let me read to you what part of the proposed federal legislation on fetus pain counseling would state after 20 weeks. Quote: "The Congress of the United States has determined at this stage of development an unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain." Do you think doctors are doing an adequate job of helping women understand what their fetuses might be doing late into a pregnancy?
WINIKOFF: Well, that's a very interesting statement. You've read that Congress has determined that fetuses has structures to perceive pain. Now, why is Congress in the business of determining whether fetuses have structures that perceive pain? This is a science question. It's not appropriate for legislation. And that's the entire problem here.
ZAHN: Well, we have certainly seen the science and medicine merge on this one -- and the politics -- in one explosive mass. Douglas Johnson, Dr. Beverly Winikoff, thank you for both your perspectives. Appreciate it.
There's no substitute for a mother's touch. Or is there?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ar, ar, ar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Coming up, Jeanne Moos shows us when it's OK to fool little babies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Still to come tonight, Jeanne Moos watches some humans take a hand in a case where it's nice to fool Mother Nature. Right now, though, at just about 13 minutes before the top of the hour, here's Erica Hill at Headline News.
HILL: Thanks, Paula.
The Pentagon says 1,500 more troops will head to Iraq this fall. Two battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy in September to help with security during the upcoming elections in Iraq.
Now, meantime, a brazen daylight attack near a police station in Baghdad left 14 people dead today. Suicide bombers targeted a convoy and as many as 40 insurgents engaged in an hour-long fight with police, using guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Elsewhere, five people died in an attack on the headquarters of a radical Shiite cleric in Najaf. All together, 35 people died in violence in Iraq today.
Rescuers are looking for the missing as floodwaters recede across a huge swathe of central and western Europe. In several countries, including Switzerland, stranded people had to be rescued by helicopter. Thirty-four people have died in storms and resulting floods this week, 25 of them in Romania.
Well, the super hot U.S. housing market may not be cooling off after all. New home sales were up 6.5 percent last month, according to the government. Now, that comes just a day after figures showed a drop in existing home sales in July.
And the Florida State Seminoles can keep the nickname in post- season games. The NCAA removed Florida state from a list of native American names banned from bowl games, basketball tournaments and the like. The NCAA notes Florida state had the blessings of the Seminole tribe of Florida to use the name -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. See you tomorrow night. Larry King gets under way at the top of the hour. And he joins us right now with a preview. Hi, Larry. What are you working on?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Paula. Beautiful color for you.
ZAHN: Well, thank you. And a nice color on you, too.
KING: I like that. Thank you.
ZAHN: That salmon thing is really working for you.
KING: I like it. Mark Cohn is with us tonight. He's the Grammy Award-winning singer, the husband of Elizabeth Vargas of ABC. He was shot in the head and survived, and he'll be on to tell us all about it.
Also, Ryan Hawks (ph), a former child star actor and wife, have been ordered to stand trial for the murder of Ryan's mom and dad. They were murdered on a cruise ship -- not a cruise ship, a private yacht and never found. All that ahead.
Plus we'll get an update from Aruba. You know, had Natalee Holloway lived on, she would have enrolled at the University of Alabama today on a full scholarship.
ZAHN: Very sad to think about that. Thanks, Larry. See you in about 10 minutes or so.
We know you all can't resist an animal story, so stay with us. We've got some cute little babies and some very creative substitute moms.
ZAHN: Oh, yeah. It's a jungle out there, all right. One of the oldest rules in TV news is people are suckers for babies and animals. So with that in mind, here's Jeanne Moos with a story about little bitty animals.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Might as well get it out of your system. Everyone go, aw.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So small.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How cute.
MOOS: But first, the bad news. A pregnant monkey got hit by a car in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The mother died, but her two babies were expelled from the womb, something the head veterinarian at the zoo there called practically a miracle. But it was the stuffed monkey that caught our eye. From Portugese, that translates roughly to...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, they're using the toy as a mommy.
MOOS: Think of it as a surrogate mother. Zoos do it all the time. If a parent dies or rejects a baby, zoos use everything from bird puppets to, we kid you not, paint rollers. The San Diego Zoo likes paint rollers for orphaned monkeys, because the texture mimics their fur.
We showed the Brazilian monkey tape to the curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo.
(on camera): And that could be like a stuffed dog.
COLLEEN MCCANN, CURATOR OF MAMMALS, BRONX ZOO: It doesn't have to be a monkey, but you know, it's nice that they're being species appropriate.
MOOS (voice-over): Over at the flamingo exhibit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two pairs. And they're fighting over that nesting mound.
MOOS: We learned about the flamingo puppet they made to feed a baby. A syringe pumps food up a tube hidden under pink fleece. Zookeepers don't want hand-fed babies to imprint, that is, identify with humans rather than their own kind.
NANCY CLUM, ASST. CURATOR OF BIRDS, BRONX ZOO: What you get is you get a bird that instead of displaying and courting with another bird will display and court...
MOOS (on camera): With you.
MOOS: Or me.
MOOS: That would be fun.
MOOS (voice-over): There are condor puppets as surrogates, a homemade pouch for a wallaby, and even a stuffed elephant for an orphaned rhino. But the surrogates outside zoos are even stranger. A cat willing to nurse a squirrel? A dog willing to nurse both puppies and kittens?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're such a good mommy.
MOOS: A cat that lost her litter borrowing the puppies of the family dog who could care less. And then there's the cat that nursed the armadillo.
But the freakiest surrogate mom sounded like a joke.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 40-year-old woman who is still lactating has volunteered to breast-feed a pair of endangered Bengal tiger cubs. And of course you know she's going to do it sitting next to me in the airport.
MOOS: The airport part was a joke, but a zoo in southeast Asia really did try to save two tiger cubs by having a human breast-feed them. Unfortunately, not all mammal milk is alike, and the cubs died.
As for the Brazilian monkeys...
(on camera): Are they looking for breast milk?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're probably looking for the nipple, yes.
MOOS (voice-over): Don't look at me. All of this makes Tarzan's upbringing seem almost normal.
ZAHN: As only Jeanne Moos could report on tonight.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And thank so much for joining all of us. Tomorrow, they climb aboard cruise ships to relax, to celebrate, or maybe to try to get away from all of it all, and then they simply vanish. Disturbing, unsolved mysteries, and they happen more often than you might think. Join us for the answers tomorrow night here at 8:00 pm Eastern time.
Right now, it's time for "LARRY KING LIVE."
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