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Texas Abortion Ban Forces Women to Go Out of State for Procedure; Pfizer to Ask FDA to Authorize Vaccine for Kids Within Days; Texas Officials Blast Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) Audit of 2020 Election Results. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 11:30   ET



REBECCA TONG, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRUST WOMEN: Now, our clinics are trying to see about twice as many patients that they normally do. Keep in mind, most of these people are calling from cities that have more clinics than the entire state of Oklahoma. It's very, very tragic, very difficult to get an appointment and it's forcing people to delay further and further their care.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Talk to me about that delay, because it's not just the delay of people coming in from Texas, it also -- is that also causing a delay for people in Oklahoma as well? How maxed out are you and what are you hearing from people?

TONG: Folks are calling us confused, scared, they're calling a lot of clinics in all of the surrounding states. Thankfully, Oklahoma doesn't have an in-person to visit requirement, so we have a few lower restrictions than the state of Texas. And so it's somewhere where people are flocking to.

Right now, we're scheduling into mid-October. That's the earliest appointment that people can get, and normally we would schedule same week. So, it's definitely delaying care. It's forcing people in Oklahoma to travel up to Kansas now and to other surrounding states because the clinics in Oklahoma are full. There's only so many people that we can see in a day.

BOLDUAN: Can you tell me some of the stories you're hearing from the women and the couples coming in now, the impact that Texas law has had on them?

TONG: Yes. It's definitely a financial burden to force them to travel. Keep in mind, these are people who are traveling, you know, six hours, hundreds of miles to take a pill, really, at the end of the day. It is forcing them to delay paying for their rent. It is forcing them to take time off of work that they cannot afford. Some of them are losing their jobs over the need to travel. And many of these patients are at medical risk.

So, a lot of the abortion procedures that we're seeing from Texas are for maternal and fetal indications. So, wanted pregnancies that simply, you know, the woman cannot carry or wouldn't survive if they carried the pregnancy to term. So, really, the hardest situations, a lot of sexual assault survivors, a lot more minors, and, consequently, people are, you know, getting pushed further into their pregnancy, which carries with a little more risk as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And to add on top of this, in just a few weeks, Oklahoma could be facing a similar challenge. I mean, a similar bill signed by the Republican governor is on track to go into effect in November. I mean, it's one of five new laws restricting abortion access in the state. What do you do then? What do the women that you're serving do then?

TONG: We'll have to wait and see. The courts are making it very difficult for us to plan our schedule for people to plan ahead for their procedures. There are a few laws -- there's one law we could probably comply with, but the rest of those laws going into place would devastate our practice. Some of them are trigger bands, right out criminalizations.

These laws were written and designed to hurt women, to force them to delay their care, force them into other state, and it disproportionately impacts women of color, people who don't speak English as their first language, and people who have a lower income. That's who these laws were designed to prevent from accessing care.

People of means will always be able to access the care they need. They'll be able to travel further for this care and it's heartbreaking.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And people of lower means, they have obviously less of an opportunity to take time off work, to travel the distances they're talking about, to get the lodging they need to come see you. It all adds up. Rebecca, thank you for your time.

TONG: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let me turn to this now. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney making a big statement this weekend, acknowledging that she was wrong for opposing same-sex marriage in 2013, a position that had put her at odds with and created a real problem among her own family. Her sister, as you well know, is gay and married with children. But I want you to listen to what Liz Cheney said in this new interview with 60 Minutes. She's not spoken about it in this way before.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you defend what you did?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I was wrong. I was wrong. I love my sister very much. I love her family very much. And I was wrong. It's a very personal issue, very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right, and my sister and I have had that conversation.


[11:35:00] BOLDUAN: You can see Liz Cheney is getting emotional there. It was an important part of that interview. But also, the expansive interview, Cheney also highlighted in that interview the importance of her own re-election this cycle, saying a vote for her Republican challenger is a vote for someone who's willing to, quote, perpetuate the big lie.

And she also didn't mince words when it came to the Republican leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, who she's very clearly been at odds with, saying he should, quote, be ashamed of himself for embracing Donald Trump after the insurrection.

Still to come for us, Texas is poised to be the next state to audit their 2020 election results, audit, we should say, in air quotes. But some elected officials are speaking up, slamming this decision by the governor, calling it a waste of taxpayer money.

I'm going to speak with one of them, next.



BOLDUAN: This week could be a big week in the push to get COVID vaccines authorized for children ages 5 to 11 or at least emergency use authorization. Pfizer's chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla, says the company is ready to submit its data to the FDA. Listen.


ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: I think we are going to submit this data pretty soon. It's a question of days, not weeks. And then it is up to the D.A. to be able to review the data and come to their conclusions.


BOLDUAN: And right now, coronavirus cases and some glimmer of good news nationwide are declining, but the country is still seeing an average of 2,000 deaths a day from the virus. The vast majority were among the unvaccinated.

And this morning the vaccine mandate statewide is taking effect for health care workers in New York. That is creating a crisis at some hospitals.

Joining me now is one of the hospitals facing this right now, and joining me now is the Tom Quatroche, he's President and CEO of Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York. Tom, thank you for being here.

Today is the day for medical staff across the state. You anticipated, I saw, 10 percent, about 400 staff, would not be vaccinated when this date came. Is that still what you're looking at this morning?

THOMAS QUATROCHE JR., PRESIDENT AND CEO, ERIE COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, Kate thanks for having me. First of all, just to let the viewing audience know, we're a level one trauma center and the second largest behavioral health center in New York State. So, we're the safety net backstop for the community.

Overall, for the corporation, it's about 6 percent at this point, 5 percent in the hospital itself, folks are put on unpaid leave. And we have got about 20 percent in the nursing home. And the nursing home issue has really been a critical issue for hospitals because we're not able to discharge patients into the community.

So, that created a large backup last week, which forced us to make some decisions, such as canceling elective inpatient surgeries, canceling outpatient visits, stopping the medical ICU transfers. And those efforts did work to lower our census a bit. But we had a staffing shortage before this.

So this is, you know, a tough thing for our organization to have to deal with, but we're supportive of the vaccine mandate but we just need a little more time to implement it and we're working with our staff to get people vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: And as you're laying it out, it all has kind of a cascading effect, is what you're seeing. You can't move people in, you can't move people out, and when you don't have staff, that now you have an administrative leave, I believe, it's the opposite -- I mean, it does not help. Who are these employees? I think you're just describing it a little bit. What jobs do they hold?

QUATROCHE: We have both clinical and nonclinical. We have almost 100 in the hospital clinical staff who have chosen to not get vaccinated and are on unpaid leave. So it cascades throughout the organization. But for the nursing home, it's not necessarily clinical. There are obviously clinical folks that have licenses. But, you know, a lot of the people on the nursing home side can find jobs at the pay scale they're at in other foods.

So, that's why you see a higher number in nursing homes and why they're struggling in New York State and across the nation. But, as you say, it has a cascading effect. It goes all the way back into our emergency department as we kind of get clogged in the hospital.

So, folks are telling us either they don't want to be vaccinated or they want a choice, and that's what they're telling us, and that's why they're choosing to go on unpaid leave and eventually face termination.

BOLDUAN: I do want to kind of push on that because that's a big question of why, why people aren't getting vaccinated, especially if they're in the medical field, and what will get them there. The CDC director was actually asked about New York this morning and health care workers refusing to comply with the requirement. I want to play for you what she said.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: It absolutely creates a challenge. What I would say is to have these -- to do some work, to educate these health care workers to meet them where they are, to understand where their hesitancy is, so we can get them vaccinated and get them back to work.



BOLDUAN: Tom, is it a question of educating your employees still? Would you agree with that?

QUATROCHE: Well, it still helps, right, and we're continuing to do that. I don't know, frankly, if some of these individuals will end up getting vaccinated or may leave health care. It's just the facts. So, we're dealing with that. We had a lot of open positions before this started as well as many other organizations across our community. We're hiring.

So, at the end of the day, we'll have to see if they get vaccinated. I think, you know, the thought of them losing their jobs, if that's not impetus enough, I don't think they're going to get vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: Just to put a finer point it, Tom -- yes, yes, go ahead. I'm sorry.

QUATROCHE: No, I was going to say, I don't frankly understand all the reasons behind it, but these are people who said that they want the choice of when they're going to do it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Tom, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.

QUATROCHE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Now to the latest attempts to undermine American democracy. President Trump asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott to audit the 2020 election results in his state despite the fact that Donald Trump won in that state. The governor announced late last week that he wants a full forensic audit then in four of the state's largest counties.

Officials in some of those counties say they are still in the dark about this. The judge of Dallas County tells The Texas Tribune this. This is one of the counties that will be audited. This is a weak governor openly and shamelessly taking orders from a disgraced former president. Governor Abbott is wasting taxpayer funds to trample on Texan's freedom to vote all in order to appease his puppeteer.

Joining me is that judge, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Judge, thank you for being here.

The Texas secretary of state says that this is going to be a full and comprehensive forensic audit of 2020. Do you know what that looks like yet? JUDGE CLAY JENKINS (D), DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS: I don't. In the original press release from the secretary of state, it said that it was already under way. We know that's not true. We've been asked for nothing. We've asked them what they want. They haven't been able to tell us because they haven't been told by the governor what he wants.

You know, the former secretary of state, who was hand selected by the governor and appointed by the governor, the Republican secretary of state that was in office during these elections, said that they were free and fair and went off without a hitch. Now, the governor didn't like hearing that so he fired that person.

But this is all just -- it's a national movement to undermine democracy, to make people think that elections are unsafe so they can pass more and more laws to make it harder and harder for people to vote.

You know, here in Texas, it's already the hardest state in the country to register and vote. We just passed in the legislature a restrictive voter suppression bill, and all of this is just part of that game they are playing to undermine democracy.

BOLDUAN: Look, the lieutenant governor offering -- is now offering this kind of circular logic that conspiracy theorists rely on telling, the Dallas Morning News that Democrats should want this audit, saying, quote, if they say there is no voter fraud here or anywhere, why are they worried about a count? How do you push back against that, Judge?

JENKINS: Well, I believe that the career professionals of the secretary of state's office won't ask us to do anything that's illegal, so we will be cooperating with that. And I believe what you'll find in all four of these counties is an election that was free, accurate, fair.

The problem is all of that will be released on a Friday night probably right before a holiday, and right now with their base they are working up a narrative that there's massive voter fraud, that there has to be, you know, forensic audits to find it. And all of that --

BOLDUAN: Well, Judge, it's about distrust, right? It's about not trusting the system and not trusting what you see right before you.

And this weekend, I have to say, we saw once again why, as a country, you cannot just ignore the continued attacks on democracy coming from Donald Trump because I want to play what he has said about the Arizona audit, which obviously is what kind of started this whole cascade, that even before -- even being a complete joke, showed Trump still didn't win in Maricopa County, which is what the forensic audit, there, sham audit, showed. But I want to play for you what Donald Trump said at a rally on Saturday.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Every report, it's like -- it's just total misinformation. While they are totally unfounded, everything is unfounded, big lie, not correct. While Trump has no reason to say this, I mean, we've got piles and piles of information, affidavits by the thousands and thousands. It's a disgrace. We won on the Arizona forensic audit yesterday at a level that you wouldn't believe.


BOLDUAN: It's completely untrue.


He could soon be saying the very same about Dallas County and about you, and what are you going to do?

JENKINS: Well, I want people to know is that right now in this country, there's one party for democracy. That's the Democratic Party. And as long as Donald Trump is in charge of the Republican Party, that is the party of autocracy. These are the sort of things that are done in third world countries. Whether you're a conservative or a liberal, you need to stand up for democracy and stand up against this.

BOLDUAN: Judge Clay Jenkins, thank you for your time.

JENKINS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for being here, everyone. Inside Politics with John King begins after a quick break.