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Supreme Court Considers Fate Of Abortion Drug; Major Baltimore Bridge Collapse After Being Hit By Cargo Ship; Source: Raid At Sean "Diddy" Combs' Homes Related To Sex Trafficking Probe. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 13:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Six people still unaccounted for. The search- and-rescue effort continues now. We will, of course, keep an eye on the situation, not only at the bridge, but also with federal investigators and what their update might be. And we'll bring you the very latest as we get it.

Meantime, the fate of a widely used abortion medication is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. Soon, the justices are going to decide whether to limit access to the abortion pill, Mifepristone, even in states where the procedure is still allowed.

Mifepristone is one of two drugs used in reproductive health care, including for medication abortions and treatments for miscarriage. Research has shown that it is highly safe and effective.

It is the most common method of abortion, making up 63 percent of all abortions in the United States last year.

Let's take you live outside the Supreme Court now with CNN's Paula Reid.

And, Paula, demonstrators on both sides of the debate had -- have been gathering there since arguments got underway. Walk us through what we heard from the high court.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Boris. I mean, this is the most significant abortion-related case that the justices have heard since they overturned Roe two years ago.

But most of the hearing focusing on a procedural issue, the question of standing or the right to sue. And it appears that the majority of justices appeared skeptical that this conservative group, anti- abortion doctors, medical professionals and advocates have the right to file this lawsuit.

Now this group has argued that, at some point, they could be asked to render medical treatment to someone who has had complications from using the Mifepristone and that's something that they would object to.

Well, the government says, look, you haven't actually suffered any harm. There's no imminent harm. And there were already federal exemptions if you object to having to offer this kind of treatment. So they're asking the justices to, quote, "put an end to this case."

The justices across the political spectrum pressed the lawyers on this question of standing throughout the hearing today.

Let's take a listen to what Justice Alito wanted to know.


SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Could you provide a more specific answer to the first question that Justice Thomas asked you? Is there anybody who could challenge in court the lawfulness of what the FDA did here?

ELIZABETH B. PRELOGAR, SOLICITOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: in this particular case, I think the answer is no.

ALITO: Well, that wasn't my question. Is there anybody who can do that? Let's start with the states that intervene below.


REID: So obviously, Justice Alito did not like the answer to that question.

He and Justice Thomas appeared to possibly be likely to dissent if the majority of justices decide to use this off-ramp, really, not even get into the larger issue of medication abortion and broader access to Mifepristone. And instead, decide this based on standing.

But, Boris, we also heard from a lawyer for a drug company that makes Mifepristone because the stakes here are incredibly high, not just for people who may want access to this drug, but also for the FDA, for its regulatory authority and, of course, the drug that is already approved.

So certainly, one of the most significant cases of the term.

SANCHEZ: Yes, no question about that.

It was interesting, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson flipped that question and basically asked, should the courts then decide what the FDA authorizes as a legitimate medication or not? It's a fascinating argument.

How soon could we expect a decision, Paula, from the court.

REID: So, Boris, since this is one of the biggest cases that they're hearing, we expect a decision likely in late June. And that is, of course, going to be at the heart of a presidential campaign season.

And while, for decades, Republicans have successfully rallied a lot of their supporters around the idea of overturning Roe. Now that that has happened, in the past two years, Democrats have been very successful in galvanizing their supporters around the issue of protecting abortion rights.

So depending on how this works out, this could have an impact on the outcome of the November election.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the White House repeatedly putting reproductive rights at the center of their message.

Paula Reid, from outside the Supreme Court, thank you so much.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: For more on all of this, we're joined now by Amy Hagstrom Miller. She is the founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health.

Amy, thanks so much for being here with us today.

I want to start by first asking you what your biggest concern is as this case goes before the Supreme Court.

AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, FOUNDER & CEO, WHOLE WOMAN'S HEALTH: So I have a few concerns. I'm very confused -- I'm very worried about the confusion and delay and misinformation that's being circulated.

And I think it's important for us to just be clear that access to medication abortion is still available. Mifepristone and Misoprostol are still on the market and people can get those medications at Whole Woman's Health and countless providers across the country.

Like you've heard, medication abortion is extremely safe. It's safer than Tylenol. I can't imagine a Supreme Court hearing about Tylenol and requiring people to go to a doctor's office in person to get Tylenol.

What we hear here is a constant restriction against abortion, which is not, like you said, not popular with the majority of people in this country. People value access to safe abortion and especially to abortions that can be performed with medication early in pregnancy.


It's incredibly important for us to maintain this access for safety of reproductive health care across the country.

DEAN: And help us understand what type of patient, what type of case uses a board and medications. Because in some cases, it can also be used during a miscarriage.

HAGSTROM MILLER: Sure. Medication abortion is used up till about 11 weeks into the pregnancy. The vast majority of our patients are already parenting and they understand exactly what's at hand with their bodies and their health.

And they choose medication abortion, for many reasons. One, because it's very acceptable. They can pass the pregnancy at home with their loved ones. it's very safe. It's very affordable.

And medication abortion is chosen by over 63 percent of our patients at Whole Woman's Health. And we offer that medication in our clinics as well as abortion pills by mail in the states where we're allowed to do that.

And almost a third of the medication abortions we provide are provided via mail in states where people can have a telemedicine visit.

Which I think is really important advancement, especially in this post-Roe era, for people to get access to real medical providers and safe information, accurate and kind folks, no matter where they live, to get access to safe medical care.

DEAN: You mentioned this, but I think it bears repeating, Mifepristone has a fatality rate of .0005 percent. That's about the same as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Viagra has a fatality rate nearly 10 times higher.

What do you make of this argument that this drug is too unsafe for use?

HAGSTROM MILLER: So this isn't about safety. This isn't about medical information. What you heard today was justices actually not understanding science.

This is about power. It's about control. It's about restricting peoples' access to safe medical care. This isn't about science.

It's about a small group of people's feelings and beliefs being applied to the majority of Americans who don't -- who don't agree with those beliefs.

It's radical. It's extreme. And we can't stand for this on our watch. Mifepristone has been available to people in this country for decades and people have chosen it and they prefer it.

And not just Democrats. All people, Republicans, people who are parenting, people who are young, people who are managing family and work all over the country, all kinds of people need access to the safe abortion.

And we all know somebody and love somebody who's needed access to abortion. And what we need to do when we hear about restrictions like this is really think, how would we want somebody we know and we love to get information?

How would we want them to be treated? With kindness and respect and compassion and accurate medical information. And that's what we need to expect in this country.

DEAN: Right. Amy Hagstrom Miller, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon. We appreciate it.

HAGSTROM MILLER: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

DEAN: Up next, we are waiting for an update from officials on the deadly bridge collapse in Baltimore. We're also hearing from some of the family and friends who are desperately seeking answers and information about their missing loved ones. What they've just shared with us, right after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SANCHEZ: Back now with our breaking news out of Baltimore. We have brand new radio dispatch audio recorded just seconds before the Dalai cargo ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side hold all traffic only the Key Bridge. There's a ship approaching that just lost their steering. So until that's under control, we've got to stop all traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't get to other side because the bridge is down. We're going to have to get somebody on the other side and tell MSP to appear and stop traffic coming northbound on the Key Bridge.


SANCHEZ: That audio coming just moments before the fateful collision. Maryland's governor says that a mayday call from the ship's crew gave them time to shut the bridge down, undoubtedly saving lives.

DEAN: And look at these live pictures of the Francis Scott Key Bridge where crews are still desperately looking for the six people who remain unaccounted for.

CNN's Danny Freeman. Is there on the scene for us.

And, Danny, I know you've spoken to a number of people who are desperate for information about their missing loved ones. What are they saying to you?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jessica and Boris. Really, in just the past hour or so, we're getting a little bit more of a picture of who exactly was on that bridge when this incredible tragedy happened.

I had a chance to speak with a number of family members who said they had family that was on this bridge when it collapsed earlier this morning. They're very distressed, very upset. And as you can imagine, still at this point, hoping for some sign of good news and, certainly, more information.

The family members that we spoke with said that the workers worked at Brawner Builders. It's a local construction company, which is really only about five miles away from the site of this incident.

Now, I should note Brawner Builders, they declined our request for comment when we reached out to them earlier.

The first woman, though, I'll tell you, who I spoke with, she said that she had at least two immediate family members who, at this point, are still missing at -- obviously, incredibly worried.

She also noted that she has an uncle who has worked at this company for many, many years, absolutely loves his job, being out there and doing this construction work for the people in this area.


Then the two other women I spoke with said that one of their family members actually was one who just got out of the hospital not too long ago. And while that is a good thing, he survived. They said, frankly, he's not doing very well. You can imagine the emotional stress after being on that bridge when it collapsed.

His wife, I'll note, was there when I spoke to that family member and she just sat silently, incredibly upset, tears in her eyes during most of our conversation.

Now, just for a moment, just to recap, remember, according to the Maryland secretary of transportation, there were eight people, all part of a construction team that were on that bridge when it went down. At this moment, we know that two survived, six though, at this point, still missing.

And the secretary of transportation emphasized that the people that were out there earlier this morning, were just filling in potholes. They were doing regular routine maintenance on this bridge when this accident happened.

Again, all adding to the tragedy and the just feeling of uncertainty from the family members who are still, at this point, desperate for answers -- Jessica, Boris?

DEAN: Our hearts go out to them. What a just horrible situation for them. And so, so much fear and anxiety.

All right. Danny Freeman for us, thanks so much.

Up next, we are learning more about the raids at Sean "Diddy" Combs' homes in L.A. in Miami. What armed federal agents were looking for there.

And just minutes from now, the man who some Democrats call "spoiler," Independent presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, is expected to announce his running mate. And we will bring you that announcement live.



SANCHEZ: A source tells CNN that raids at homes belonging to Sean "Diddy" Combs are related to a sex trafficking investigation and that Diddy is the target.

The raids were carried out yesterday afternoon in L.A. and Miami. And they were big. We're talking armored trucks, agents with assault rifles, all forcing them their way onto these properties and into his homes.

CNN's Josh Campbell has been following this story for us.

So, Josh, what's the latest on this investigation and end specifically what agents were looking for?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these were massive searches that these large estates, both, as you mentioned, in Miami and here where I am in Los Angeles. Dozens of federal agents descending on these properties yesterday, owned by Sean Combs.

We're told from a law enforcement source that agents were looking for phones, laptops, any type of removable storage media that can store pictures, that can store videos.

And again, as you mentioned, we know from a law enforcement source telling her colleague, John Miller, that Combs himself is the target of this federal investigation.

A separate law enforcement source telling me this pertains to sex trafficking.

Now, the lead agency here is HIS, Homeland Security Investigations. That was a telltale sign yesterday as we saw all of these vehicles rolling in, all of these federal agents with uniforms and vehicles emblazoned with the letters "HSI."

That was important because this is a federal agency that specializes in human trafficking. And so a very serious investigation that is now underway.

We, of course, have reached out to representatives of Combs. We have not yet heard back any comment on the searches that took place yesterday.

But, of course, Boris, Combs himself has come under legal scrutiny in recent months. In December, there was a woman referred to as John Doe in a civil lawsuit, who claims that she was 17 at the time, back in 2003, when she was allegedly sexually assaulted.

She indicated that Combs -- accusing him of sex trafficking and gang rape. And Combs had denied that.

But then, just last month, a former employee of Combs also filed a suit claiming harassment, saying that he was forced to procure and interact with sex workers, accusing Combs' son of bringing underage girls to parties.

So again, as you look at all of this together, it seems to make sense that when you have those types of allegations from individuals, the feds likely launched their own investigation. The result of that being the search that we saw yesterday.

Of course, we're waiting to see what specifically investigators found at either location and whether that will result in any the type of prosecution --Boris? SANCHEZ: Josh, you mentioned the HSI logo on the side of these large,

armored trucks and other vehicles. I'm wondering, what does this kind of response tell you? Because aesthetically, it looks like something out of a war zone.

CAMPBELL: No, absolutely. I mean, we saw these heavily armed tactical agents that arrived at both locations. A law enforcement source tells us that's because Combs had private armed security at those locations.

And so now I can tell you, having done a number of these searches in a previous life, you obviously want to bring whatever resources that you need in order to potentially be on standby should there be any potential issues.

Obviously, yesterday, there were no issues. But you had those tactical agents that were there.

And I can tell you that there's a separate psychological aspect as well.

If someone finds themselves under a federal investigation, particularly one as serious as sex trafficking, as human trafficking, you can imagine that people in that type of situation may do things that could potentially be violent if it feels as though their life is caving in on them with federal prosecutors and federal agents at the door.

So a lot of this could be just psychological. Look, the best result here, if someone inside that home was thinking about doing something that they shouldn't, don't. You're outmatched. You're outgunned.

Obviously, none of that was needed. But certainly, you can imagine federal agents bring every resource that they need to a situation like that. Again, the topic here, Sex trafficking, very serious.

SANCHEZ: Yes, an important case to keep an eye on.

Josh Campbell, from Los Angeles, thank you so much.


Still ahead, we're going to get back to our major breaking news, the catastrophic bridge collapsed in Baltimore. Two people have been rescued so far. Six remain unaccounted for.

We're going to go live to that search-and-rescue site, just minutes away.