Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with The Atlantic Staff Writer Annie Lowrey; Brittney Griner Sentenced; Interview With Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO); Interview with NBA Legend and Best-Selling Author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 13:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): A major piece of President Biden's agenda hangs in the balance. Will it pass Congress? Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper

tells me why it's the most important thing he's ever been close to.

Also ahead:

BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA PLAYER: I had no intent to break any Russian law.

GOLODRYGA: The verdict is in regarding Brittney Griner's case in Russia. We will have the very latest.

Plus: After Kansas stuns the country to preserve abortion rights, journalist Annie Lowrey opens up about her own difficult pregnancies and

why she says abortion access matters.


KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I probably was convinced to be an activist before I was aware of Bill Russell, but he helped move me along

quite quickly.

GOLODRYGA: One of the greatest basketball players of all time. Our Walter Isaacson speaks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his late friend and NBA legend

Bill Russell.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

These may be the dog days of August, but Washington isn't slowing down just yet. In the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei earlier

this week, the Biden administration says it hopes Beijing will not -- quote -- "manufacture a crisis," as China fires missiles towards waters near


And just two miles away from the White House over on Capitol Hill, a different battleground. Democrats are on the brink of an agreement over a

substantial climate, health care and tax package without a single Republican vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has lambasted the bill, calling it a -- quote -- "terrible deal." And its fate now comes down to just one

senator, Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. So will President Biden finally get this key piece of his agenda passed?

Let's turn to my first guest, Colorado Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper. He is a staunch advocate of the deal. And he's joining me now

from Washington.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

So what is the latest status of this bill as we speak?

SEN. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO): So I get updates literally every half-an- hour, and I think they are kind of going back and forth.

But I don't think there's a giant chasm. I think this is something that can be negotiated, and that Senator Sinema understands. She's worked on a lot

of the issues that are in the bill. She negotiated them on previous bills. So there's not a whole lot of new territory.

GOLODRYGA: So, if Senator Sinema had known what was in this bill and the crux of it, why is she saying things along the likes of she needs more

time, and this will take more time for her to get through before she makes up her mind, especially given what you just said, that she knows most of

what's in it?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, she doesn't know all of what's in it.

And one thing I can tell you about Kyrsten Sinema is, she is a very meticulous, detail-oriented person. And when she puts her shoulder to a

bill or an issue -- we saw this with gun safety. We saw this with the PACT Act the other day. When she gets involved in something, she covers all the

details, and her staff helps, but she wants to know everything.

So I think she's just making sure she has -- she's on top of all the details.

GOLODRYGA: So our reporting suggests that there are two specific aspects of the bill that she has focused on and concerned with at this point.

One has to do with extra funding that she's seeking for drought recovery in her state and in the South, Southwest specifically, and the other is the

structure of the 15 percent corporate minimum tax, as well as the carry-on loophole as well.

So talk about what can be done here to alleviate some of her some of her concerns right now.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, they will have to try and find some savings somewhere or another pay-for to pay for that $5 billion for the

aridification. I don't even call it drought anymore.

I mean, this is a climate change-related issue. So it might not just be a drought. It could be more permanent than that. But, certainly, the whole --

Arizona is not the only Southwestern state that is suffering real water -- water needs and water issues. So I think there will be a lot of support for

that. Where does that $5 billion come from is unclear.

I think the book minimum tax that makes sure that every corporation that makes over a billion dollars in profit pays some taxes, even if it's only

at a 15 percent rate, I think that's a pretty well-thought-out piece of tax policy. And she might want to tinker with it a little bit. I -- again, I

haven't talked to her, so I shouldn't put words into her mouth.



HICKENLOOPER: And the carried interest is something that she's always had a problem with. I think there might be some modification there that -- you

have to take the whole thing out. You can just modify it a little bit, and it won't have that great an expense to the overall bill.

GOLODRYGA: So what do you make of reporting from CNN that she spoke with a group of business leaders on Tuesday specifically about the 15 percent

minimum tax on corporations and asked them -- quote -- "Was it written in a way that's bad?"

HICKENLOOPER: So, again, Kyrsten Sinema is going to get all the details she can. She's going to talk to everyone she possibly can.

I mean, there are a lot of very thorough, meticulous senators here in the U.S. Senate, but she's among the very most persistent in terms of trying to

get all the information she possibly can.

GOLODRYGA: So let me ask you one more question some of her concerns. And that's going back to the issue of more funding that she is seeking for

drought recovery. It's about $5 billion.

And, as you noted, this is something that you think can be worked on. But your fellow Democratic Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet just said --

quote -- "I can tell you that I'm deeply worried about drought, but I'm not going to do anything here. This drought conversation could be a very

difficult one."

He seems to be a bit more concerned about it than you are in terms of blowing up the deal as a whole.

HICKENLOOPER: Yes, and Michael Bennet, I think, is one of the best senators in the entire Senate. So, when he says that, I will let him take


I look at it as relevant to what we're doing. We're going to reduce the national deficit by $300 billion. And if you look at something like that $5

billion she's concerned with, maybe it doesn't end up being $5 billion, that Southwestern drought, does she have the right to bring that in that's

just really her whole -- her region, it's just the Southwestern United States, where everything else in the bill is of a more national nature?

I mean, that's to be debated. And Michael will have a much stronger -- much better perspective than I will. I personally feel that this is about the

most important thing I have ever had anything to do with in the U.S. Senate. Climate rescue is at such a precipice. We just have to get going.

We have to accelerate the rate of change, addressing climate change.

And this is the best way we're ever going to have to do that. And I don't want to have it held hostage for a couple of billion dollars now.


HICKENLOOPER: That's my sense.

GOLODRYGA: And, no doubt, we cannot underestimate the magnitude here. Obviously, it's just a fraction of the initial two -- over $2 trillion

Build Back Better deal that the president had put forward initially, but, even now, this would be a historic figure.

I'm just wondering, knowing that the two sort of outliers here or the focus being Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin throughout this process, because

you know you're never going to get any Republicans to sign on, on this, was it a mistake, in hindsight, last week, when we were all surprised by

Manchin acknowledging that he is now on board and finding out that there had been some 10 days of negotiations behind closed doors with him, that

Senator Sinema perhaps should have been included in those 10-day negotiation periods?

HICKENLOOPER: So I'm not going to second-guess Senator Schumer. I mean, he's the majority leader, and he has done a remarkable job.

I mean, this is a 50/50 Senate. So we have to get the vice president every time there's a tie. Every time we get every Democrat, every Democrat to

support any initiative, we also have to have the vice president come over and cast the deciding vote. So he really is in a very challenging

situation. And he knows Senator Sinema very well. He knows Senator Manchin very well.

So I think he's got a plan. And I think he's going to work through this in a way that will -- again, I'm a former entrepreneur for many years. I'm an

incurable optimist. I have -- when everyone else was giving up on this bill three weeks ago, I was the one out there just saying, no, no, they're going

to figure this out. This is too important.

We can't let this -- we can't let this slide away. And I feel that way today every bit as strongly as I did three weeks ago.

GOLODRYGA: Well, you have just expressed your optimistic nature. And report suggests that you played a key role in keeping these negotiations

alive with Senator Manchin as well. Talk about what that process was like.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, Senator Manchin negotiated directly with Senator Schumer. And they did -- I didn't get in the way of those


But I did try to keep everybody positive. I tried to where, every chance I got, to create a sense of optimism, because, oftentimes, in negotiations

that get -- that become difficult, a little bit of optimism goes a long way.

So I was getting -- meeting with CEOs of big nonprofits or NGOs around the environment, getting them to call them both Senator Schumer and Senator

Manchin. I was -- large companies that are committed to addressing climate rescue and really trying to turn the tables on climate change, I got them

to call and all the other industry leaders to call Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin.


We reached out to the Penn Wharton modeling group at their business school to do economic modeling to show Senator Manchin -- and he had said to me

several times that he was concerned about inflation. Well, I think Senator Manchin -- I take him at his word. So we went out and had them model and

show that this does not add anything to inflation.

And I think, if you look at it overall, we will have to agree that, over time, it's going to -- it's going to be anti-inflationary, right? It's

going to reduce inflation, because it's going to lower costs for health care, lower costs for energy, I mean, do a lot of things for working people

in Colorado and across the United States.

GOLODRYGA: Well, clearly, some of those calls made a difference in convincing Senator Manchin. That's for sure.

You recently said that -- quote -- "This is, without question, the most significant climate rescue initiative in the history of the world."

Explain exactly how.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think just looking at the scale that we're talking about, on the first place, we're talking about $100 billion in incentives

for wind energy, solar energy, renewable energies, making sure -- if we get that done, that will set in place real incentives that will allow us to get

to scale much sooner.

So we're not just talking about $100 billion. We're really talking about many hundreds of billions of dollars, because more businesses will come in

and make these investments, take advantage of the incentives, the investment tax credits, the production tax credits.

And in that process of doing so, they are going to, again, just accelerate the rate of change. Look at -- over the last 10 years, solar has come down

almost 90 percent in cost. Wind has come down maybe 80 percent in cost.

These are dramatic changes that came from just the beginning of scale. So that's, to me -- I mean, we're looking at $369 billion as a total package

addressing climate on every facet, or at least almost every facet. There may be a couple things that aren't completely covered here.

But this is the first step of what will be a -- again, it's not the end. It's the beginning. It's the beginning of a long forced march that we're

going to have to all work together on. But it allows us to imagine a successful outcome.

I mean, the modelers are telling us that they think it will reduce greenhouse gases, greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2030. That's 80

percent of what President Biden committed to during his campaign, and everyone thought that, oh, you will never get there.

Well, now, all of a sudden...

GOLODRYGA: Yes, he committed to 50 percent, 50 percent of that by 2030.



GOLODRYGA: There are some wins here...

HICKENLOOPER: Yes, exactly. We get to 80 percent of what he committed to.

GOLODRYGA: There are some wins here, though, in this bill for the oil and gas industry. Did does that worry you at all?

HICKENLOOPER: No, I think, again, this was a difficult, long negotiation. And Joe Manchin is very concerned about $5-, $6-a-gallon gasoline, which,

in the United States, that burden falls on working people that generally have to commute much longer distances.

In many cases, we don't have sufficient public transit that they can rely on. So, Senator Manchin wanted to make sure that we had this transition,

because it's not going to be the snap of a finger. It's going to be a -- I call it the great transition. And it's going to take a number of years to

make sure that we don't -- we don't let people think that we're going to suddenly not use gasoline or natural gas in two years.

There's going to be a long transition. And a lot of the things in this bill are that general -- that Senator Manchin really worked on were to try and

make sure that the oil and gas industry has some security in terms of not having stranded assets.

GOLODRYGA: Branding is an important part in all of this. I know you would agree to that. It's no longer Build Back Better. It is the Inflation

Reduction Act.

And most economists would agree that it does reduce inflation over time. Are you worried at all, however, that this is being oversold to the public,

who may be hoping for an instant fix in terms of inflation and how it's impacting their bottom lines?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, inflation, I mean, every time I go anywhere in Colorado, anywhere in the United States, people are talking about

inflation. And it's been a real difficult obstacle for people just to balance their monthly budgets and their household budgets.

But you have to recognize look at all the different countries. Some of them didn't do any federal spending to address the ravages of the pandemic, and

yet they have the same and sometimes more inflation the United States does.

So the inflation is really, I think, largely the cost of -- the result of the breakage and the disruptions of the supply chains, things like crude

oil. And, historically, we see this. When you have large economic disruptions on a global basis, when the price sort of crude comes down

dramatically, then, all of a sudden, it'll -- demand will come back faster than their capacity to rebuild production.


And so there's a lag. And then, all of a sudden, all the oil producers are saying, wait, I'm only producing less -- 5 percent less, but I'm getting

twice as much money.


HICKENLOOPER: Of course they slow down over producing.

So, this is -- and you're right. This is a problem with people all around this country and the world, that inflation is a serious problem. But I want

to keep people's eye on the prize, that this is a way to address climate change that we have never even come close to before.

GOLODRYGA: And we should know that gas prices have been declining, I think, like 50 straight days in a row now. So that is notable.

Let me ask you finally. So much attention is on the upcoming midterms. And that's understandable, but a lot of speculation continues to circle around

2024 and whether President Biden will run again, and whether the Democratic Party as a whole will support him.

There have been some in your party that have come out publicly and said that he should not run. Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think

President Biden should run for reelection?

HICKENLOOPER: I think President Biden should make the decision whether he wants to run. And if he decides to run, I'm hard-pressed to see how

Democrats can't support him.

He's got a 50/50 majority, the thinnest majority you can have in the U.S. Senate, and look at the...

GOLODRYGA: Would you support him? Would you support him if he announced that he was going to run for reelection?

HICKENLOOPER: Of course. Yes, absolutely.

Look at what we have gotten done in the past year-and-a-half. The first two years of his term, holy smokes, he had to deal with the -- again, the

ravages of this pandemic of COVID-19. And he got the COMPETES bill, USICA done. He got the bipartisan infrastructure bill done. It looks like now

we're going to get the Inflation Reduction Act.

These are immense, significant accomplishments that he gets no credit. I would absolutely support him. And I think he deserves a lot more credit

than what he's getting.

GOLODRYGA: Senator Hickenlooper from the great state of Colorado, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. Have a good weekend.


GOLODRYGA: And the verdict is in now for Brittney Griner. The American basketball star was found guilty today of drug smuggling with criminal

intent by a Russian court and given a nine-year jail sentence.

Prior to the verdict, Griner apologized and had this to say:


GRINER: I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics. But I hope that that is far from this courtroom.

But, again, that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent, I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.


GOLODRYGA: I'm joined now by U.S. security correspondent Kylie Atwood at the State Department.

So, Kylie, we heard from Brittney there that she hopes politics took no part in this courtroom in that decision. But knowing the history of the

Russian judicial system, especially as of late, it's hard to see how politics did not play a role here.


And I think the surprise of even her lawyers at this long sentence may demonstrate that this ruling was inherently going to be tied to politics.

And the Kremlin is not far from this trial at all. Even though the Russians like to say they have a judicial system that stands on its own, what we

know is that the two are inherently connected.

So, what does this sentence, however, mean for the efforts to get Brittney Griner home that will obviously go through the Kremlin? And I think it's

important that U.S. officials did expect that there would have to be a sentence and there would have to be Brittney Griner pleading guilty before

any potential prisoner swap.

So, maybe today could grease the wheels in terms of those conversations. But we really just don't know that yet, because the Biden administration

did in June put a proposal on the table. And the Russians did not effectively engage in that offer. They countered through some back channels

with another person that they wanted to be included.

And so where do those conversations go now? That is the key thing that we will watch as this severe verdict and sentencing was rolled out today.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, a prisoner swap was offered from the United States in exchange for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

We already heard moments after that verdict was announced from both President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. What did they have

to say?


Well, the secretary of state didn't mince words. He said that this further compounds the injustice of Brittney Griner's wrongful detention. We heard,

as you said, from President Biden just moments after this sentence was read by the judge, coming out and calling it unacceptable, calling for the

Russians to immediately release Brittney Griner, and then citing the efforts that are under way here in the Biden administration to get her home

and also to get Paul Whelan home, another American wrongfully detained in Russia, making it very clear publicly that the White House is engaged on

this issue.


And I think that it is significant that it came so quickly. There's a lot of public pressure on this White House to get Brittney Griner home, as

there is with all wrongfully detained Americans, but, of course, in a pronounced way for Brittney Griner because she is this basketball star, she

has this following.

And so there is a tremendous amount of pressure that this administration now faces.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, at this point, the ball remains in the Kremlin's court. And it appears they're going to take as much time as they feel as necessary

before they give a sincere response to that prisoner swap that the United States offered.

Kylie Atwood, thank you so much. We will continue to follow the story closely.

Well, the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, kicks off today in Texas. The usual speakers will be there, including Donald Trump,

Steve Bannon and Ted Cruz. But so will a controversial foreign leader, Hungary's Viktor Orban, whose government is accused of racism, plus

undermining the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

Correspondent Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could call it a meeting of like minds.

Video from his official Facebook page shows Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visiting former President Donald Trump Tuesday at his Bedminster, New

Jersey, golf club, on his way to this week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas.

The hard right anti-immigrant prime minister recently set off alarm bells with a speech laced with sinister undertones.

"We Europeans," Orban said, "are willing to mix with one another. But we do not want to become peoples of mixed race."

He has since come out insisting he isn't racist or antisemitic. The damage, however, is done.

(on camera): Viktor Orban's talk about racial mixing, about racial purity stir up dark, still fresh memories. These metal shoes commemorate the spot

where in the final months of World War II Hungarian Nazis murdered thousands of Jews.

(voice-over): It's time for evening prayer in Budapest's historic Dohany Street Synagogue.

Rabbi Robert Frolich says Orban's words hit too close to home.

ROBERT FROLICH, HUNGARIAN RABBI: You saw the small congregation here who come here every evening, every morning to pray. They are older people. Most

of them are Holocaust survivors.

And they are worried. They heard this before. And it didn't end well.

WEDEMAN: Often described as an authoritarian, Orban has been in power for the last 12 years, reelected in April. His economic policies have won him

support, but with inflation rising, that's beginning to change, says economist Zoltan Pogatsa.

ZOLTAN POGATSA, UNIVERSITY OF WEST HUNGARY: In the longer run, yes, I think Orban remains popular, but in this particular point in time, I think

more people are skeptical about him than ever before.

WEDEMAN: In Budapest's central market, opinions very against.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viktor Orban is not even liked in our own country.

WEDEMAN: Margarita Kreinik (ph), the butcher, begs to differ.

"Viktor Orban is doing everything for his people," she says. "He loves his people."

Evening and city residents savor the soft breezes off the Danube. History flows through this city, the past never far from the surface.


GOLODRYGA: Important and chilling words there from Rabbi Frolich in Budapest.

Our thanks to Ben Wedeman for that report.

Well, while CPAC is happening in Texas, over in nearby Kansas, abortion rights activists are relieved after voters there rejected a measure to put

limits on the procedure.

And while the issue of abortion continues to grip the nation, my next guest asks, what about the health of the mother? Annie Lowrey is a staff writer

at "The Atlantic," where she penned a deeply personal and poignant piece about her difficult pregnancies and the heartbreaking choices women

sometimes face.

And she joins me now from San Francisco.

Annie, thank you so much for joining us.

Listen, I and so many of these our viewers know your work and focus on economics. Here, to take this opportunity to write about something so

painful that you personally experienced must have taken a lot of thought and must have taken a lot of consideration. What ultimately led you to

write this, this very poignant piece?


ANNIE LOWREY, "THE ATLANTIC": It was a very difficult decision to write about my very difficult and very dangerous pregnancies.

And, thankfully, both of my sons -- I have a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old - - are healthy, and I'm doing OK now. But I am one of a lot of women who has been told that it would not be safe for me to be pregnant again. I have a

lot of health issues that stemmed from my pregnancies and some permanent health issues that the pregnancies uncovered.

And so we now have eight states and counting that have passed absolute or near absolute bans on abortion. And we have had doctors for decades telling

us that abortion is a necessary, lifesaving health measure for people. And we're now in this environment in which that's being taken away.

And even more than that, the Roe verdict and the overturning of Roe in now in eight states and counting raises this question of, if doctors are going

to be allowed to perform this procedure to preserve the life or the health of the mother, what does that mean? Was I sick enough? Would I have been

sick enough?

Are people going to -- is this going to lead to increases in maternal morbidity and mortality, as is expected, because this procedure is going to

be denied to many people?

GOLODRYGA: You wrote that, for you, pregnancy was obscene. And I believe you were quoting one of your doctors with that description.

Explain how.

LOWREY: Yes, so I developed a number of complications of pregnancy and a number of really horrible, debilitating symptoms during pregnancy.

I was itchy all over my body, unrelentingly itchy the entire time I was pregnant pretty much. I developed really bad nerve pain. I had problems

with my liver and my kidneys. I developed preeclampsia. And I had two very traumatic deliveries.

And a lot of this was mysterious when it was happening. It was only sort of midway through the second pregnancy that my doctors realized that I have an

uncommon degenerative liver condition called primary biliary cholangitis, that just doesn't really play very well with pregnancy.

But these things only stopped when I wasn't pregnant. There was nothing they could do for me during pregnancy. And my case is really unusual. But

while many people go through pregnancy safely and deliver healthily and it's a straightforward process, one in three pregnancies ends in a C-


One in four people report experiencing birth trauma. One in five have a significant complication. And one in 4,000 end up dead. And so it can be

very, very dangerous in a lot of circumstances. And given that roughly 3.5 million people deliver a child in this country every year, we're talking

about a lot of those rare cases.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and even more so for women of color in this country as well.

LOWREY: Absolutely. Maternal mortality is roughly twice as high for black women.

GOLODRYGA: You talk about your sister, worried about you after the birth of your first son and suggesting that you not have a second child. You went

through and decided to have a second child, despite your sister's warning and your own hesitation.

What made you decide ultimately to sacrifice whatever physical ailments you may experience and endure to bring another child into this world?

LOWREY: You know, we never got a proper diagnosis for what was wrong with me in my first pregnancy. I developed a very severe case of preeclampsia,

which led to a preterm delivery of my first son.

And so, towards the end of the pregnancy, that was really what they were focused on, my doctors, that I had this mysterious itching, and they didn't

know what it was, because nothing in my blood work suggested that I had something that they knew how to diagnose.

And so I thought that it might not come back, because we didn't know what it was. And we really wanted to have more kids, and we still want to have

more kids, although we won't and we can't. And it was -- it was this question of, what would I sacrifice to have another kid? Wasn't it worth it

to have my first kid?

And if I knew then what I know now, I certainly wouldn't have done it again. But, of course, these decisions are heartbreaking and really,

really, really difficult. It was a hard call at the time. And I'm so thrilled that we have our second son and that he's healthy and that I'm OK.

But it was a tough call at the time. And it's been very difficult knowing that I won't be pregnant again and we won't have a third child.

GOLODRYGA: And yet you appreciate what you have with two beautiful, healthy young boys, despite everything you went through to deliver them.


LOWREY: Absolutely.

And I'm so grateful. And so many people go through medical issues and don't have that kind of happy outcome that we did.

GOLODRYGA: Of course.

But your issues were quite harrowing indeed. And you write: "My two pregnancies left me disabled, a word I'm still struggling to come to terms

with. They


GOLODRYGA: Of course, but your issues were quite harrowing indeed. And you write, my two pregnancies left me disabled. A word I am still struggling to

come to terms with. They put my life at significant risk. Some of my doctors have made clear that they do not think I should bear a child again.

Still, if I got pregnant, I would likely be forced to carry to term in much of the country, despite how sick I was, despite all the damage and pain I

had endured.

Very strong passage there, Annie, and I'm wondering if all of that's happened and transpired since Roe V. Wade was struck down, and since

subsequently what we saw happen in Kansas this week, how has that factored into your thought process, as you've tried to digest what you've been

through and perhaps were even open to the idea of having that third child at one point?

LOWREY: Absolutely. You know, this has been very, very hard to watch, because it's been visceral for me to understand that, you know, a lot of

complications, it is hard to tell that they are life-threatening at the time. And a lot of things can be debilitating and disabling or painful for

pregnant people to go through, but they are, not obviously, life- threatening.

And I think that what it underscored for me is that these are decisions that, you know, the person who is pregnant should be making in consultation

with their health care providers. And what is the role of the State here? These States have essentially decided to have hospital ethics boards, and

perhaps legislatures or politicians come in and decide. In what cases this is appropriate?

And that kind of litmus testing, you know, that's not something that doctors want to do. And these are decisions that, when we had the Roe and

Casey framework, people were making for themselves. And I've thought a lot because I've gotten a lot of e-mails from people who had difficult

pregnancies and a few e-mails from people being, like, you know, I can't believe that you made the decision to have another child after everything

you went through. And it just struck me that that was a really personal decision and one that I was really glad that I was able to make with my

family and my providers.

And this really is about the right to abortion. Placing that decision- making with the pregnant people and their providers, as opposed to with politicians. Many of whom, you know, have no experience with pregnancy

themselves and are certainly not medical experts.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, up until June -- listen, you just said this was a personal decision between you and your husband as to whether you would risk trying

to get pregnant and have another child. And up until June that seemed to be the question and answer, ultimately, that many families would make on their

own as to whether or not they would have an abortion. And that seems to change -- have changed, drastically in -- over the course of just a few

months now.

The question you're posing in this piece, is what is the health and life of a mother mean? And I know you asked that of health care providers. What was

the answer that you heard from them?

LOWREY: Absolutely. So, it was interesting in, sort of, reporting this personal essay out. I spoke with a number of maternal and fetal medicine

experts, and they pointed out that there is no medical standard for what constitutes an emergency. It's not like in med school there is, you know,

some class that they teach in there, you know, you need to meet these criteria and then it's an emergency or then something is life-threatening.

This is all a gray area and it's always odd.

And so, one of the physicians I spoke with pointed out that for women who have a certain type of C-section, they recommend that they -- if they

deliver again, that they have another C-section because there's a risk of uterine rupture. And she said that the risk is very small, but

nevertheless, this is for almost every doctor you might talk to, the recommendation.

And so, you know, that's the kind of framework that they're operating in. But that likelihood is a tiny likelihood. And doctors are naturally

sometimes conservative about these kinds of things when they are managing their patients. And that there are many conditions in which, you know,

terminating a pregnancy might be the only option. And so, you know, what's the risk of the life to the mother? Is it one in a 100? Is it one in 1,000,

you know? Is that even something that's, you know, possible to ascertain in the moment?

And again, these are just really, really difficult questions. And, you know, and every medical provider I spoke with for this piece pointed out

that these are decisions that are really hard to make in the moment. And these are decisions that are only now going to become more complicated now

that the Roe and Casey framework is gone.

GOLODRYGA: You know, you have navigated this essay -- this personal essay with both your own trauma and experience. And also, very effectively

brought in your great journalism skills, as well, in talking to these reporters and sort of flushing out the lay of the land now.


When it comes to maternal health care, you -- given that your economics background, I'm just curious to get your take on all of the empirical

evidence and data that showcases the correlation between abortions and access to abortions and women in the workplace. What impact now, do you

think, we're going to see in light of the Roe decision?

LOWREY: Absolutely. My favorite piece of evidence, and I think one of the most important empirical pieces of evidence we have about the important --

importance of the right to termination in American life comes from something called the turn away study which was done by UCSF. And so, what

they did was they recruited women who were in the waiting rooms of clinics. Some of whom were turned away, who wanted an abortion and were turned away

because they were passed their given State's gestational limit. And some of them were under the limit, and therefore got the abortion.

And they compared those two groups. So, people who wanted an abortion and got one, and wanted an abortion and didn't get one. And what they found was

that the people who did not get an abortion and carried to term, they were in worse physical health. They were in more dangerous romantic

relationships. They were more likely to be impoverished. They had worse outcomes for the children that they already had because most people have an

abortion are actually already mothers, you know, they were less likely to be employed. They reported higher levels of stress.

And so, on almost any facet of their life, they were worse off. And they often, you know, they -- it was very rare for them to regret having their

child. But for women who did successfully get an abortion or a termination, it was also extremely rare that they regretted that. And a number of

empirical measures, they were better off. I think this just underscores that these are decisions that people take seriously. And that they make,

you know, to help their -- to protect their families, and to improve their lives in so many ways. So, I just -- I really encourage people to look at

that study, it is called the turn away study. It is a remarkable piece of work.

GOLODRYGA: Annie Lowrey, I have known you and your husband, Ezra, socially for many years. And have had been marveling at your family growing, and the

addition of your two young children. And I'm just blown away by your candor here and your trust in your readers for putting this out there. I think

it's going to really help so many women to hear your words, and what you went through. And to see you now, as a result of that experience. Thank you

so much. Best of luck with your children, Annie.

LOWREY: Thank you so much for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Well, this week, the sporting world lost a hero. Bill Russell, the legendary basketball player, and civil rights activist, passed away at

the age of 88. Including fellow basketball champ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Walter Isaacson spoke to him about the man he called a friend, mentor, and

role model.


WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: You know, you're one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But you say that Bill Russell, who we lost this week was you're here.

Tell me how you first met him.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, jeez, I first met him when the Boston Celtics were practicing at my high school. I was in the ninth grade, just 14 years old.

And I went to practice and there were the Celtics practicing in our gym. Amazing.

And I was told that -- jeez, that by my high school coach (INAUDIBLE), I want you to meet some of the players. And Mr. Auerbach, the coach, wanted

to introduce me to Bill Russell. He said, Bill, come here. I want you to meet this young man. And Bill said, I'm not standing up to come meet some

kid. And from that point on he called me kid. And --

ISAACSON: But you were like seven feet tall when that happen right?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I was taller than he was at that point but he still called me kid just to put everything in the correct perspective.

ISAACSON: You know, you wrote a wonderful, wonderful reminiscent about him on your Substack page. And you said, Bill Russell was the quintessential

big man. Not because of his height, but because of the size of his heart. Tell me what you meant by that.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, just the fact that Bill had the courage and the vision to do some of the things that he did to promote the whole aspect of civil


ISAACSON: Did he convince you to become an activist?


ABDUL-JABBAR: I -- jeez, I think I probably was convinced to be an activist before I was aware of Bill Russell. But he helped move me along quite

quickly. And certainly, when I was invited to go to the Cleveland Summit, the fact that bill was participating, to me meant it meant that it was

valid and I should be involved.

ISAACSON: You know, that Cleveland Summit involved, of course, Muhammad Ali. And not going into the army. Tell me about that story.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, you know, we were asked to come to Cleveland and just to assess whether or not we should back Muhammad Ali in his attempts to

avoid service in the army because of his conscientious objection. And you know, we got there and we talked to Ali and, you know, Ali was very capable

and eloquent in explaining his viewpoint.

And I think Bill Russell was that said that, you know, I don't feel sorry for Ali. I feel sorry for the rest of the discourse. You know, we had some

confusion about the right stance to take. But Ali was right on it. You know, with his questioning are -- you know, valid -- rather invalid

involvement in the war in Vietnam. And he refused to serve. And he was upheld by the Supreme Court, eventually.

ISAACSON: Do you think that summit with Muhammad Ali there, you there, Bill Russell, sitting there in Cleveland, did that help, sort of, change the

nature of what athletes, pro-athletes did when it came to public policy?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think it certainly contributed toward giving athletes a more better idea of how to use their platform. Because we all have a

platform, especially successful athletes, it's been said that successful athletes are really the only persons that teenage kids go to for guidance

and, you know, take their styles from. The only person stronger than that are their parents.

So, you know, athletes that used their platforms to communicate the right things to young people who might be confused about what the right thing to

do is. Athletes have a great opportunity to explain things and be listened to. And I think that that's certainly something that has helped a lot of,

you know, athletes in our country.

ISAACSON: Today NBA and WNBA players often take the lead in social justice movements. Especially following the killing of Trayvon Martin. How did Bill

Russell help set the stage for that?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, you know, when Bill was playing, he led his teammates in a boycott of a game because some of the players couldn't get served in

the coffee shops. And that was an important issue to him. And he set a precedent. And people listened to the NBA players that made a statement

like that. I think of Bill's leadership and example were key to all that.

ISAACSON: And you've said that Bill Russell taught you how to be bigger, both as a player and as a man. Let's start with the player part. What did

you learn from him? You both played center. You both can anticipate the moves of the other team. But tell me how you learned and what you learned

from him.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, what I learned from Bill was that you could dominate the game from the defensive end if you are a very effective rebounder and

sharp blocker. So, I strove with all I had to try to emulate Bill on the court, you know, to block shots, and help my teammates who might get

beaten. Cut the basket off so that there were no easy shots available. And by cutting down the -- your opponent's high percentage shots, you really

increase your chances to win by a very large number. And, you know, that's what I learned from watching Bill Russell and the Celtics team. You know,

they all went into that tactic and it paid dividends for them for a very long time.

ISAACSON: You know, Bill Russell was called the smartest player by Bill Bradley. And he said because he studied angles. He studied the way balls

have a trajectory. He did it almost in an analytic fashion. And you once said that you studied Bill Russell the way J. Robert Oppenheimer studied

Albert Einstein.



ISAACSON: So, tell me about that intellectual study. I mean, not just looking at him on the court, but understanding intellectually what he was


ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, you know, on the court, there's only so many plays that you can make. So, you have to make the choice to which play is the most

effective at enabling your team to win. So, the blocked shot and the rebound were two things that Bill understood. If he could get the lion's

share of those two elements of the game, his team would have a decided advantage. And, you know, eight world championships in a row is definitely

someone executing a decided advantage.

ISAACSON: You said that sometimes you made it your mission to make him laugh. Tell me about his laugh.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, it was a very high-pitched giggle. You know, it was -- and it was something you wouldn't expect from someone like him. It's a

high-pitched giggle and cackle. And he was always trying to be a comedian. And he was always talking about his golf game, how good his golf game was

and, you know, that definitely was fiction.

ISAACSON: Do you think, though, that that humor made him, in some ways, a better team player?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Yes, it made him a better team player and it enabled him to show what it meant to not be arrogant, not -- you know, not be self-

centered, you know. He did his role and his teammates did their role. And they enjoyed the success of all of their efforts together. I think that was

a very important aspect of what their team was all about.

ISAACSON: There's a quote of Bill Russell that I really love, and it doesn't just apply to basketball. It applies to life. And the quote is, the

most important measure of how good a game I play was how much better I made my teammates play. How did he do that?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, he made it possible for them to be a good defensive team. It was because of Bill Russell they were a great defensive team. And

that defense led to the fast break offense that was a Celtic trademark. So, we always -- if you don't have the beginning go right, it won't end up

right. Bill was right there at the start of everything, you know, the tough defense, the effect of rebounding, and made it possible for the Celtics to

do what they did.

ISAACSON: You read, I know his amazing book, "Go Up for Glory", which in some ways is an odd book because it's brutally honest. What did you take

from that book?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I took just really how can I study what I want to do and have the best goals? So, I had to figure out where I wanted to end up.

And that takes some study. That takes some observation of what's possible. And, you know, what my potential was. And if I apply my potential to what's

possible, I should be able to reach my goals.

ISAACSON: Did he ever talk to you about the racism he faced?

ABDUL-JABBAR: He didn't talk to me about it personally. I read about it, though, especially the book, "Red and Me" which is a book about his

relationship with Coach Auerbach. You know, and just what he had to go through going up initially in Louisiana and, you know, how difficult it was

for the various people in his family just to do normal things like go to school and, you know, advance themselves educationally.

Finally, his family found the refuge they needed in Oakland, California. You know, there were plenty of jobs in the shipyards there during World War

II. And Bill and his family moved there and he was very -- he's very happy to be there. I know his family members were happy to be there because he

speaks of one incident where his mother took him to this building and she said, you know, you're going to be spending a lot of time in this building.

You know, he had never seen a building like that. He was, like, wondering what it was. And of course, it was the public library. It was the first

time that his family had access to a public library, where they weren't forbidden from using it because of their race. And, you know, for his

family, that was a lot of progress.

[13:50:00] ISAACSON: But the big deal is when he moves from Oakland to Boston, he finds Boston to be phenomenally racist. And I think he says that he used

the racism of Boston as a fuel. Do you understand what he meant by that?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Yes, I think so. You know, I read an article that his daughter wrote, and that he kind of then describes it as, he played for the

Celtics and he separated the Celtics away from Boston. You know, the bias and prejudice of a lot of people in Boston at that time was put off. But

the Celtics welcomed him and made him feel that he was wanted. They definitely knew that he was needed.

So, you know, there was a way around that. But for his family, you know, especially for his kids, it was pretty tough.

ISAACSON: Yes, I mean, Boston was not very welcoming and they tried to run him out of the neighborhoods, all sorts of things happened.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Exactly. Karen Russell, Bill's daughter and oldest child, she describes as -- what it was like going into school and, you know, having to

deal with that. She's attended Harvard Law School and still is experiencing incidents that are not very pleasant.

ISAACSON: How did Red Auerbach -- you know, his coach, cigar-chomping, white guy, how did he help in that struggle that Bill Russell had with the


ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, Bill Russell knew from the beginning that he was the best player in the NBA. He was the most effective, what he did make his

team win. And Red Auerbach told Bill that he, himself -- he, Red Auerbach, was aware that Bill was the best player and even though a whole lot of

other people didn't know it, he, Red Auerbach, did know it and he respected the fact that Bill was the best player in the NBA. And he treated him like

that, and it really made for a great relationship.

ISAACSON: Well, one of the great things that Red Auerbach does is he makes on the coach after Red Auerbach retires. He becomes a player-coach.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Yes, after Red -- makes him the coach and he's the first black coach to coach any major sport in America. And he won two world


ISAACSON: How important was that?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, that was very important because he had to set a standard. And, you know, we are still, at this point, trying to make that

the standard for all of the sports, all of the professional sports in America. And it's taking time.

You see the struggle that they are having in the NFL. I think Major League Baseball has had blacks and Latinos have positions of power within the

team, you know, management powers. So, it takes a while for these changes to make themselves manifest. But once they do, the changes are something

that benefits all Americans, and that is very important.

ISAACSON: The public at times, it's hard to believe, but I could remember back when they tried to characterize you as an angry black man. What did

you learn from Bill Russell and watching how he handled that?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I learned that unless I allow them to put me in that position, I don't have to be in that position. I don't have to be an angry

black man. I just have to be a black person that's trying to do the sensible things that will affect change for myself and for my family.

ISAACSON: There have been some amazing tributes to Bill Russell in the past few days, including the one I urge people to read that you wrote on

Substack. But how do you think he would like to be remembered?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think he would like to be remembered as someone who was just doing what he had to do. You know, he dealt with the issues that

crossed his path in the right way and provided an example. And I think that that's, you know, what he was all about. He had never, ever got to the

point where he'd felt that he was this great person that people should follow, he just did the right thing when it crossed his path. And really

set a great example in that matter.

ISAACSON: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you so much for joining us.

ABDUL-JABBAR: It was great talking with you. Thank you for having me.


GOLODRYGA: That was a great conversation. One trailblazing legend paying tribute to another.

Well, that is it for now. You can always catch us online and on our podcast. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.