Return to Transcripts main page
At This Hour
Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade; House Debating Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill, Vote Expected Soon. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired June 24, 2022 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing to coverage this historic breaking news. The Supreme Court eliminating a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. Reaction now from Capitol Hill, CNN's Manu Raju is there. Manu, what are you hearing from lawmakers?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Really sharply divergent reactions road breaking down mostly along party lines hearing Democrats say this is a cruel decision. That's when Nancy Pelosi's words all vowing to make this a big issue in the midterms. Dozens of House Democrats just marched from here the steps of the Capitol across the street to the Supreme Court, chanting and calling for change. Now, on the Republican side of the aisle, praising this decision and also downplaying the impact that this could have on the midterms, arguing that voters ultimately will vote on the economy.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I think what the Supreme Court just did was that they chose to endanger the lives of all women, and all birthing people in this country. But not only that, they've chosen to strip rights for men too.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Because, frankly, the right to our own bodies and the right to form our families, this is -- this is something that belongs to all of us. And it does not belong to lawmakers. It does not belong to nine Supreme Court justices. It does not belong to those justices who were appointed by presidents, many of whom didn't even win the popular vote in this country. This is cementing of minority rule in a lot of ways. And we're going to have to fight a long road to get it back. But we're not going to give up.
REP. BILL HUIZENGA (R-MI): Well, I mean, that's a -- that's a good question because certainly the Dems have been trying to use this as an issue over the last two months since you saw the leaked opinion and it does not seem to move the needle if at all -- if it has, not much. Again, I think most people are pretty entrenched with what they believe on this particular issue and what ought to happen. What I think a lot of folks are going to be surprised at and I had this back in Michigan, as well is that people didn't necessarily know it was going to revert to whatever the state had prior to Roe. And that's going to be the new starting point for each state.
RAJU: Yes, and this issue, essentially will be fought state by state. And also, some different reactions among some Democrats who, on the other side of the issue on abortion, one, Henry Cuellar who just survived a tough reelection race in his primary who opposes abortion rights, told me that I am pro-life when I asked him about this ruling and Joe Manchin who was also opposes abortion rights was critical of this decision. Even though he supported justice Kavanaugh and justice Gorsuch, he put out a statement saying he's deeply disappointed with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh because he said when they testified under oath, they contended that they believe that Roe vs. Wade was a settled legal precedent. Erica.
HILL: Manu Raju with the latest for us. Manu, appreciate it. Thank you.
Also, with us to discuss the decision, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Thank you.
HILL: You put out a statement. You tweeted hold on to hope don't get into despair. And in a statement, you said Democrats have tools to fight back from legislation in Congress to executive orders from the president to initiatives at the state and the local level. How effective do you think those measures are going to be?
WARREN: Well, they're going to be just as effective as they need to be. Look, I am spitting mad over this. We have six extremist justices on the United States Supreme Court who have decided that their moral and religious views should be imposed on the rest of America. This is not what America wants. And in a democracy on this issue, the Supreme Court does not get the last word the people do. And we are going to fight back. We've got tools, we're going to use them, and in November, we're going to make sure that we elect enough people who believe in that democracy, that we can pass Roe v. Wade and make it the law of the land again, only this time we'll do it by statute and enforce it.
HILL: You know, the speaker also said today in reaction this will be on the ballot in November. Respectfully though, Senator, this issue as important as it is to a number of Democrats, you're a perfect example of that, has never been the rallying tool for Democrats that it has been for Republicans. This has been an effective rallying tool for decades in terms of getting to this moment for many conservatives. So what's going to change between now and November?
WARREN: Let's talk about why that has been so. About 70 percent of Americans want to see Roe v. Wade maintained as the law of the land. One Supreme Court nominee after another stood in front of Congress, raise their right hand, and said not interfering with settled law, I believe in the rule of law and said Roe vs. Wade is settled law. That means that a huge proportion of the population in America believed this is not a huge issue. It's protected. We're going to be fine. And those of us who are ringing the alarm bells were told, don't worry about this. Nobody is going to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Now, a small minority has finally gotten the votes, the Republicans who have worked for decades, knowing that they could never pass this through Congress. They could never get it through a state ballot initiative. They worked on getting it through getting extremist judges. Through judges who promised to follow the law but wink-wink, nod-nod were cleared in order to get where they got today. And that is to say that their religious and personal views will be forced on the rest of America and that they will use the government in order to enforce it.
WARREN: Notice, just yesterday, this same set of extremists said oh, it is not possible to let the state governments get engaged on the question of guns, it is important to have federal protection for guns. Well, I'm telling you, the rest of us are ready to rally back and say it is important to have federal protections for people who are pregnant. It is important to recognize individual's rights, individual's needs, it is important that we be able to make these decisions for ourselves and not have a government that steps in to do that because six extremists on the Supreme Court want the government to enforce their religious beliefs.
HILL: So when a couple of --
WARREN: That's not going to happen.
HILL: On a couple of those points here quickly, the fact that this now goes back to the states, your home state of Massachusetts, the highest court there upholding the right to an abortion, passing laws to protect abortion rights. We're seeing more of that in a number of bluer states. The reality of what can happen -- you try the legislative route not too long ago that failed, an executive order isn't going to reinstate this. And even if it did, it could be overturned by another president, as you know. So realistically speaking, when you say there is work to be done legislatively and you want to see something on a federal level, what does that look like?
WARREN: It looks like getting two more Democrats in the United States Senate who are willing to support both filibuster reform and making Roe v. Wade the law of the land. It means hanging on to the House of Representatives and it means passing Roe into law. That's what November will be all about.
HILL: What --
WARREN: And recognize we don't have to wait until November. There are things we can do right now. We can obviously support people in states that are outlawing abortion, we can help with our contributions, we can help by volunteering, but we also call on the administration. Senator Patty Murray and I led a letter with more than half of the U.S. -- of the Democratic senators calling on President Biden to use the tools that are available to him right now. He can make medicated abortion more widely available.
WARREN: He can help with money and time off for people to be able to move across state lines. He can consider using federal lands as a place where we can set up abortion clinics and people can go there who need access to abortion. We are not without actions that we can take. We need to have hope, but we need to hang on to this anger because we use that anger to fuel change.
HILL: We're out of time but I do have to ask you. We're going to hear from the president at 12:30. Has President Biden over the years been a strong enough advocate? Yes or no?
WARREN: What matters is where he is today. This is the moment in front of us. It's not what mattered back when nobody thought that Roe was going to be thrown out. What matters is what we do today. The president needs to pick up every tool available to him and use it to protect access to abortion, use it to protect the individual rights of those who are counting on our president to do that.
HILL: Senator Elizabeth Warren, good to have you with us today. Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
HILL: Stay with us. Our breaking news coverage of this historic moment, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Our coverage continues on the other side of this break.
HILL: We will have much more on our breaking news in a moment, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in a historic decision. We are also following some important developments though at this hour on Capitol Hill where House lawmakers have just started a debate on the first major gun safety legislation in decades. That vote expected a short time from now. The bill is expected to pass and to head to President Biden's desk for his signature. CNN's Lauren Fox has the details for us.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica, in just a short time we expect the House of Representatives is going to move ahead and have that vote on the gun safety legislation that passed out of the Senate last night with 15 Republican votes. One of the most notable members supporting the bill is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I talked to him last night on a call with reporters and he explained why he thought this was the moment to pass gun legislation.
Obviously, his support is really critical to moving this process forward. He said that while Republicans have a lock on rural and small-town America, he is concerned about some of the losses that he's seen in the suburbs. That the hope is that they may be able to regain some of those suburban voters in the midterms, helping cement Republicans' ability to take back the Senate in just a couple of months. It just gives some insight into why the minority leader was so invested in helping move forward on an issue that really divided his conference.
FOX: Even though 15 Republicans supported this bill, that means there were more than 30 Republicans in the GOP conference in the Senate, who did not back it, Erica, so obviously Republican and Democratic leadership support of the bipartisan effort on gun safety really critical to passing this bill yesterday. But showing, of course, that there's always a little bit of politics involved in those decisions. Erica.
HILL: That is true. Lauren, appreciate it. Thank you. Let's return now to the Supreme Court's historic ruling which overturns Roe v. Wade. In the wake of the court's decision, millions of women have a lot of questions about abortion care, about medical care, and access moving forward. Joining us now with some insight is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
So, Sanjay, you're talking on practical matters today, as we look at what this could mean in terms of access to health care and to making those medical decisions depending on where you live. We know what it was like in this country before Roe v. Wade, and what some of those options look like. There are concerns moving forward in some areas that women may resort to something like a back-alley abortion as we had heard about pre-1973. What are some of the concerns in the medical community today? What is that discussion about the risks?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I would say that if you look at the public health community, the medical community that they're pretty much in lockstep in terms of their opposition to Roe v. Wade being overturned, some thousand or so deans of public health schools, large organizations like the AMA and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Their big concern is that maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the United States are already among some of the highest in the developed world.
In fact, let me just show you this. I think this surprises people sometimes. And when you look at these statistics, the United States is an orange on the right, this is maternal mortality compared to other wealthy countries. And it's not even close, as you can see there. And if you look at the statistics more closely, you'll find it's primarily women of color and primarily women in poverty who are comprising a lot of the women who have morbidity and mortality associated with pregnancy.
The concern to your question, Erica, is what might happen if there is this ban on abortions? And what they find is that in the first year, they believe that some of those numbers I just showed you, as bad as they already are, would go up at least 7 percent but then in subsequent years, could go up some 21 percent. And that's just because you know more women potentially having significant morbidity and mortality in the process of childbirth. Now, with regard to you know, sort of back-alley abortions, this has obviously been a concern all along even, you know, 50 years ago, the idea that women would then resort to unsafe abortions.
New England Journal of Medicine just released this editorial saying, what the experience around the world has shown us is that when you restrict access to legal abortion, it does not substantially reduce the number of abortions, but does reduce the number of safe procedures. And that results in increased morbidity and mortality. I will tell you, you know, I mean, a lot has changed, Erica, over the last 50 years medically. I mean, in terms of being able to do things more safely. But I think, again, the public health community is pretty unanimous in their concerns that maternal mortality and morbidity rates are already among the highest in the developed world. And they'll just go up.
HILL: Yes. And part of those concerns too, stem for -- from something as simple, although not always simple, as access to quality medical care for pregnant people as they are going through that. There are a number of other questions that have come out of this, specifically, one involving miscarriage. So for people who may not be familiar, after a woman has a miscarriage, often, she then needs to take a pill that is essentially a medical abortion to empty out her uterus. And there are questions about whether that is something that could potentially be vulnerable as well. Is that a concern within the community?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, I think that there's a lot of -- frankly, there's a lot of confusion still talking to some of these leaders within the public health community about exactly how that all sort of plays out. What will be the access to certain medications like that, that can decrease the sort of morbidity or complications after a miscarriage, or even after pregnancy overall?
So, you know, it's unclear, I think people are still sort of grappling with this. The thousand or so people that have signed this letter did so over the last month in anticipation of what's happening today, but with the full understanding that they are still not clear exactly how this all, you know, sort of transpires for people specifically, and how it's different from state to state.
HILL: And that's -- and that's one of the big issues, right, which just made me think of, as you were saying that state to state, right? There are different states. New York State has been talking a lot about it here where I am, talking about how they would protect providers or those who would help. But that's got to be a concern within the medical community as well, for those who do provide access to abortion.
GUPTA: There have been glimpses of this in the past when you've had states that have restricted access where they've decreased the funding of organizations like Planned Parenthood, for example. And you saw the toll, obviously, in terms of the numbers, I just showed you, maternal morbidity and mortality, but also the concerns to providers who were still providing some of those services. So, again, I -- you know, we're witnessing something, you know, that we have not gone through together for 50 years, how it all sort of shake out? I think is still -- there's a lot of opaqueness, I think still in the public health and medical community about this.
HILL: Yes, absolutely. There have been a lot of questions since that draft was like it's certainly today, day one, as we learn it's been overturned even more questions emerging that will need to be answered. Sanjay, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.
GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.
HILL: Thank you all for joining us this hour. I'm Erica Hill. Stay tuned. We will have much more of CNN's live coverage of the breaking news today, the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. My colleague John King picks up our coverage after this quick break. Stay with us.