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Biden Approval Rating Drops Six Points; Abortion Legal Fight in Texas Escalates with Women Left in Limbo; Children Reflect on Legacy of Loved Ones Lost 20 Years Ago. North Korea's State-Run Media Confirms Successful Missile Launch; College Professor Risks Job for In-Class Mask Mandate; Push to Recall Governor Gavin Newsom Enters Final Stretch; Manchin, Sanders at Odds Over $3.5 Trillion Economic Plan. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 12, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday. And we begin with breaking news out of North Korea.
The state-run news agency there reporting the regime has successfully test fired a new type of long-range cruise missiles. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea and CNN's senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt is here with me now.
Let's start with you, Paula. What are you learning there?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, this came earlier this morning local time from state-run media, as you say, and they say that they have test fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles. Now they say they have been developing these for a couple of years. Significant, though, to say that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not appear to have been present, showing that it wasn't one of the more significant missile launches that we've seen from North Korea, and also it was on page two of the local state-run media, rather than on the front page which is what we usually see.
The fact is it was not a ballistic missile which means it did not violate any U.N. Security Council resolutions. But of course any missile launch from North Korea is going to concern those in the region. We've already heard from the South Korean side. They say that quite often, with these cruise missiles, you do learn about them after the event once they have actually launched. And they also pointed out that there were a couple of launches earlier this year as well from North Korea which they didn't disclose.
They don't always disclose these cruise missiles, they are saying. So certainly it is a departure from what we have been seeing recently from North Korea. The fact that they have not been launching missiles. But it is not one of the more worrying launches that we have seen. Just last week we saw a military parade from North Korea for the 73rd founding anniversary of the foundation of the country. And it was not very missile heavy. In fact there wasn't a missile in sight. There was some military
hardware but it seemed more focused toward COVID-19, for example. There was a unit that was the frontline defense of COVID-19. That's really what we have been seeing recently from North Korea. They also focused on a food crisis within the country, which the North Korean leader himself even alluded to, which is highly unusual, showing that it must be of some concern.
So this is reason we really haven't been seeing these missile launches recently. But this one did happen over the weekend according to state- run media -- Pamela.
BROWN: And what has the reaction been from the U.S., Alex?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So far, it has been quiet, Pam. We have heard that reaction from South Korea. We have reached out to the State Department and the Pentagon, and so far we have not heard from them.
This is certainly something that is going to get a lot of attention here. This is certainly something that is very worrying. This was announced by the North Koreans first thing Monday morning local time in Pyongyang. And this is something certainly that the Biden administration, if they don't address it tonight, they're certainly going to be addressing it tomorrow morning.
But as Paula was alluding to, this doesn't -- it's not, say, on a scale of 1-10, it's not a 10 in terms of how worrying they should be for a number of reasons primarily because this is a cruise missile. This is something that they are technically allowed to do, they're allowed to test. In terms of the distance that these missiles flew, according again to a Korean state-run media, they hit targets 1500 kilometers away, that's almost 1,000 miles away.
Just for some context, Hawaii is 4600 miles from Pyongyang so -- and this didn't even go 1,000 miles. So we have not yet heard from the U.S. yet. You know, they did not flaunt, as Paula was saying, their missiles in this last parade that they had just a couple nights ago. But we should note the timing. This happened over a very significant weekend here in the U.S. when this country was focused very much on marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And it is over this weekend that these missile tests happened.
We saw ballistic missile tests, which as we've said, are more significant back in March. And a series of them, in fact, and President Biden said at the time that there would be responses if North Korea continued to do this. They did not but that that was at the time seen as a way for North Korea to say, hey, pay attention to us. You know, this to the new administration.
We should also note that after a flurry of activity between the U.S. and North Korea during the Trump administration, in terms of getting them on denuclearize which ultimately failed, those talks have very much come to a standstill. So no progress has been made on denuclearizing North Korea during the Biden administration and this week in the coming days, President Biden's special envoy for North Korea is going to be in the region, in Tokyo speaking with Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
BROWN: And just for context here. Paula, I want to bring you back in because you noted this is coming from state-run media. It was on page two. How credible are these claims?
HANCOCKS: Well, certainly, Pamela, if it comes from state-run media, then that is the source from North Korea. This is how we find out things from North Korea. No other source of news really comes out from the country. It's all highly choreographed and so this is definitely credible, we know that this is what North Korea wants the world to know, and the fact that the South Koreans have confirmed as well that they believe this has happened.
But it is an interesting development the fact that it has been launched by North Korea and not by South Korea, as you say, and also not by the United States. But South Korea did point out that this has happened before, and we know that when this has happened before with these cruise missiles, they haven't always announced it. They haven't always publicly stated it. And North Korea hasn't always publicly stated it as well.
So of course the question has to be asked, why is North Korea announcing this this time around? Why is it important for them to tell the world that this is happening? But again, the fact that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not appear to be there is significant. When there is a missile launch that they want the world to sit up and take notice of, he is front and center and that simply wasn't the case this time.
BROWN: All right. Paula Hancocks, Alex Marquardt, thank you both.
And we want to turn now to the pandemic and the slog to get more shots in the arms of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control says just under 54 percent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated. The highest rates are largely in the northeast. The lowest? Mostly in the south. And that could change with President Biden's new vaccine mandates for the workplace. One Republican governor says the tough measures may be counterproductive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: The problem is that I'm trying to overcome resistance. But the president's actions in a mandate hardens the resistance. And we talked about the fact that we've historically had vaccination requirements in schools. But those have always come at the state level. Never at the national level.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, the U.S. surgeon general says the mandates will benefit both employers and employees for several reasons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Number one, the data tells us that these requirements work to increase vaccinations. Number two, a lot of businesses are actually relieved that these are going into place. And we've heard a lot of feedback from the business roundtable and others that this will help create safer work places.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And beginning tomorrow across Georgia, there will be a week of protests on college campuses. The goal, force administrators to institute mask and vaccine mandates for in-classroom teaching.
And my next guest is part of that movement and could lose his job over it. Joseph Fu is a math professor at the University of Georgia and is requiring masks be worn by all students in his classroom. School policy says you can ask that masks be worn but you can't require it.
And you've actually -- Joseph, you've been warned that you could face disciplinary action. Are you willing to be fired over this?
JOSEPH FU, MATHEMATICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Certainly. Certainly. I mean, I think, in some sense, it's a responsibility that I have. I'm a tenured professor. I'm a person who's quite privileged in this setting. I feel that as a tenured professor I have responsibility to my institution, not simply to my bosses, to act in its interest.
BROWN: So you actually wrote the mandate into your syllabus. Tell us what went on as you decided how to handle the situation. Why did you choose to put it in the syllabus in the way you did?
FU: Well, I want to be quite clear about it. As I said, many of my colleagues feel very similarly to me. Many of them, you know, whom I hear from have seen a very low rate of masking in their classes, despite like, I guess the words of the administration are, strong encouragement of masking. So my feeling is that many of my colleagues feel in a precarious position. Not safe making such a requirement. I feel it's my duty at this point to test the waters on their behalf.
BROWN: And you're saying a lot of people aren't wearing a mask. I want to show you some video from your campus just yesterday. Georgia's home opener of the football season. 93,000 people yelling and cheering, and masks, few and far between. I mean, what is your reaction when you see that?
FU: It looks like we're walking into disaster. You know, of course, there is always uncertainty. But it's hard to see how we escape an acceleration of the existing crisis.
BROWN: Do you think that you alone can make a difference?
FU: Well, in a strict sense, no. I mean, but I guess my intention is, first of all, to be a model. A model not just to my colleagues, first of all, that we can. We don't have to listen to these absurd prohibitions. A model also I think to the administrators in my campus who have refused to put themselves at risk in any way to provide for a safe campus. They clearly believe, they know that vaccinations, masking are very, very important to prevent spread.
However, they place our entire community, not just the university community, but the Athens community in great jeopardy due to their irresponsible failure to step up and risk their own massive paychecks for this purpose.
BROWN: And of course, they argue this is not about that. That they're following what the state is dictating here. That the head of Georgia's University System is defending the precautions, telling the "Atlantic Journal Constitution," quote, "We continue to be in alignment with the governor's expectations and requirements for state agencies through this pandemic." And (INAUDIBLE) Teresa MacCartney also pointed out that $2.4 billion in state aid given to Georgia's colleges and universities.
So if you are an administrator, like in her shoes, what would you do if the state has this law set out, you get all of this funding from the state? What do you do?
FU: To me, there comes a point where you've got to stand for justice. Not just a chancellor but I'm talking about the president of the University of Georgia, Jerry Moorhead, the provost of the University of Georgia, S. Jack Hu, Vice President for Instruction of the University of Georgia, Rahul Shrivastav. These people could if they chose stand up and buck these absurd and inhumane mandates -- these prohibitions.
Now the point is that I think everybody in the modern world understands that at some point, at some point, regulations, laws, become illegal and immoral. And that it becomes a responsibility of every person particularly those in leadership to defy them if necessary. I believe that we're at that point. I'm just one little guy, teaching a coupe little classes. I'm doing what I can.
BROWN: OK. Joseph Fu, thank you for joining us tonight.
And Dr. Jayne Morgan is a cardiologist and a clinical director of Piedmont Healthcare's COVID task force. She is here to answer some of our COVID questions.
Thank you so much for coming on. You just heard that Georgia professor risking his job by requesting mask mandates for in-class teaching.
Doctor, I want to get your reaction to that.
DR. JAYNE MORGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PIEDMONT HEALTHCARE COVID TASK FORCE: So I think one of the things that we know with science is that masks are safe and we also know that vaccines are protecting people not just from COVID but from this particular Delta variant, which is a new version of the original virus. And I think that is really without argument. And so we want to continue to support science, continue to encourage vaccinations such that we can reach herd immunity and have a safe society for everyone moving forward, especially our children who still cannot be vaccinated.
BROWN: And I want to just ask you as we look at what's going on across the country, so many doctors and nurses have told us, they're suffering from burnout. And I just talked to a doctor earlier on the show who conveyed that. This frustration. What problems could we see in the future if we lose medical staff due to COVID fatigue?
MORGAN: You know, this is certainly a concern. Not only losing staff from fatigue but losing staff from just the emotional and mental toll. Medical professionals, physicians, nurses, and others who are treating these patients right on the front line, and in this fourth surge. This surge in particular is a surge that has been entirely preventable. And yet the physicians and healthcare workers are continuing to put their lives at risk to treat people as they come through our hospital doors and then also perhaps put their own family at risk when they have to go home.
That takes a long emotional toll. And I think we have to be concerned that at some point if compassion is not extended to the health care workers, there will be less and less compassion extended to patients as they come in as well.
BROWN: And what about just helping them? You talk about the emotional toll but their mental health. I mean, I've talked to doctors who have cried on this program because they are telling families of unvaccinated patients time and time again they have to say a final goodbye.
What is being done to help health care workers with their mental health during this? I can't imagine how difficult it is.
MORGAN: It is incredibly difficult. And you know, we have set up many, many services to support the mental health, the emotional toll, the long hours. The incessantness of it. If you can imagine within a health care facility, we are incredibly following very strict science and then we walk right outside of the hospital and people seem to not have any awareness at all that there is a pandemic going on, even though you've been putting your life on the line for most of the day and the evening. And so that is an incredible dichotomy and that we are working on, we understand it and certainly we've been providing mental health support to a lot of the staff.
BROWN: Yes. I was traveling recently and I was really just struck by how cavalier so many people were about COVID and the places I was visiting. You know, people not wearing masks and so forth. Being in crowded areas. And I can just imagine how disheartening it is for doctors like you and others who have been tirelessly working to combat this pandemic.
Doctor Jayne Morgan, thank you so much for making time for us tonight.
MORGAN: Thank you so much, Pamela.
BROWN: Well, Democrats at an impasse with two key senators at odds over the budget. Many of President Biden's priorities remain up in the air. But first, is Gavin Newsom's political career about to face total recall? It's the final chance for Californians to cast an early ballot ahead of Tuesday's vote.
BROWN: Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom is making his closing arguments to voters today ahead of Tuesday's recall election. And Democrats may have a Republican to thank if he survives. A new poll says nearly 60 percent of likely voters now oppose recalling Newsom. This comes as allies of the governor have tried to cast Republican Larry Elder who's leading to GOP field to replace Newsom as harmful to the state's liberal voters. President Biden is set to fly in tomorrow to help Newsom close the deal.
CNN's Natasha Chen is in Beverly Hills. So, Natasha, what are voters telling you?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Pamela, there are a couple of themes here. You just stated a poll that shows that Newsom has a pretty good chance that he could stay in office. But even his supporters who talked to us are not really saying that they're confident about that. They're not saying they have this in the bag. There is some caution there because they see a lot of the division in this state.
Another thing that we're hearing is that, though they say they approve of the job Newsom and his administration have been doing, this is also about preventing a Republican takeover. And they're citing things that are happening in other states led by Republican governors, telling me they don't want that to happen to California.
Here are a couple of voters that we talked to coming out of this building today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOSEPH KAIROS, VOTER: They said the devil that you know is better than the angel that you don't know.
LORETTA KAIROS, VOTER: The recall is a waste of money, in my opinion. It's sad how people spent money. How they choose to spend their money, their millions. And next year we have an opportunity to vote him in and out, and I think it would be perfect. But yes, maybe we don't have all the answers. But I believe it was a waste of money.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Now this is a left-leaning area. But one recurring theme as well is that this recall election is very much about handling the pandemic. The reason that we -- well, one of the major reasons that we're even seeing a recall is because some Californians were very upset over the state's pandemic restrictions. But at least the voters we talked to here said they are very worried that if someone like Larry Elder, who is the Republican frontrunner to replace Newsom, if someone like that becomes governor and he has said that he would perhaps roll back vaccine requirements or mask mandates, they fear that that would be harmful to public health, and they really approve of the current way that this state has been approaching the pandemic -- Pamela.
BROWN: OK. Natasha Chen, live for us from Beverly Hills, California. Thanks for bringing us the latest on that.
Well, universal pre-K, expanded health benefits, investments to tackle climate change. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he will not support a key piece of a Biden agenda at its current $3.5 trillion price tag. So what now? Alice Stewart and Maria Cardona dig into the Democratic divide up next. You won't want to miss this segment. Stay with us.
BROWN: Well, Democrats are on a collision course as they try to pass the president's $3.5 trillion economic plan. The biggest obstacle right now? West Virginia senator and fellow Democrat Joe Manchin. He was at odds with Senator Bernie Sanders over the price tag. Both of them have made their case this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We've already put out $5.4 trillion. And we've tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can. And a lot of the help that we put out there is still there and it's going to run clear until next year, 2022. What's the urgency? What's their urgency that we have? It's not the same urgency we have as the American Rescue Plan.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): And the truth of the matter is, Dana, as you may know, many of us made a major compromise in going from the $6 trillion bill that we wanted, supported by the overwhelming majority of Democrats, down to $3.5.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And joining me to discuss, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. And they also co-host the podcast, "Hot Mics from Left to Right."
Great to have you here, ladies. I think it's the first time you're here on the show together. So it's great to see you both.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hopefully, we'll do it more often.
BROWN: Absolutely. And we would love that. So let's talk about this. I mean, this was really the talker this morning. You have Manchin saying one thing, Bernie Sanders saying something else. Manchin saying there is no way to pass this bill. Without Manchin I should say, there's no way to pass this bill because, as we know, a Republican will not vote for this. It's been a week since White House chief of staff Ron Klain said that he thought Manchin was very persuadable. It sure didn't appear that way this morning.
CARDONA: Well, if you listen to both of them, they are making their bargaining positions. And look, they're not going to bargain in front of the American people. That's just not how it's done.
I knew from the beginning, I think most people knew from the beginning because Joe Manchin was not shy about saying it, that $3.5 trillion was a bridge too far for him. And that he wanted to slow down.
In fact, we ran into him this morning, and he said exactly that, "We need to slow down. We want to be responsible." He's right about that. On the flip side, Bernie is right, too, for them to have -- for the progressives to have come and supported the infrastructure bill, and then to come down from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion is a compromise.
But here's what I believe and I believe that both sides understand this on the Democratic side, this is our time, it's do or die, it's now or never. We need to get this done. So, I think that $3.5 trillion, if it's a bridge too far, we're going to find a number that is as close to that as possible that will keep Manchin, as well as keep the support of the progressives because what we're all trying to do here is to pass something that is transformational for the American people that will fundamentally change the way that Americans interact with their government, so that everyone has the tools to not just survive, but to succeed in this great country, not just the privileged few, and you do need formational change in order to do that.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That sounds familiar, Democrats talking about transformational change as they did with Obamacare. And if they think this is Obamacare, 2.0, they're going to pass this bill without finding out what's in it. That's not going to happen.
Joe Manchin is emphatic that no, and only in Democrat, Washington is $1 trillion not enough money. And the key thing is here, there is so much spending in here with regard to healthcare, climate change, and all of these welfare programs. Joe Manchin is saying not just Republicans are not going to support this, he is not going to support that.
And I think there is, based on both of the conversations that Dana had with them this morning, neither one of them are anywhere near coming off of their numbers and for Bernie Sanders to say that he has already compromised to come down to 3.5, that's laughable.
That is a lot of money on programs that we certainly do not need at this time. And I think more Republicans are going to rally behind Joe Manchin, and make sure that we get closer to Joe Manchin's number and further away from Bernie Sanders and the progressive socialist agenda of the Democrats.
CARDONA: I would love if Alice was right, saying that Republicans are going to support Joe Manchin, Republicans are not going to support any Democrat. I mean, come on.
I would love to believe that, Alice, and Republicans should listen to you. I always say that on our podcast and on our segments, but that's just not the case. Republicans are not going to support Democrats in this.
But this is why I fundamentally believe that they will come to a deal, a compromise. When you are that far away from something, but when you both fundamentally believe that this has to happen, and I think that they do, then we will come to an agreement.
Because if we're able to get this done, Pam, imagine we might even have majorities after 2022 in both the House and the Senate and imagine what more we could get done for the American people.
STEWART: And that's the key, is they have to get something on the books for 2022, where they have nothing to run on. We have all of these issues with COVID on the rise, climb on the rise, the economy in the toilet, that abysmal withdrawal from Afghanistan. Democrats have nothing to show for the fact they're in control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have no checks in the win column.
They really have to come together on the spending, because it's going to be a really big problem in the midterms if not.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I mean, 2022 is hanging over everything. Right? And also for the Republican Party, you know, who is leading the way there?
I want to talk about this new CNN polling that shows Republicans and Republican leaning independents say 63 percent to 37 percent, that they're okay with Trump as the leader of the Republican Party, but when asked if he should be at the top of the ticket in 2024, fifty one percent said yes, and 49 percent said no.
It's just look at that. I mean, look at how his popularity has waned since 2019, when more than three quarters of Republicans thought he was an advantage to the party, now, that's half. So Alice, what does that tell you?
STEWART: Well, it tells you he's an advantage to the base of the party, and he still has strong support amongst the base and we need to keep that, but rational minded Republicans understand that politics is a game of addition. We have to grow from that. We have to keep the solid Trump supporters on board and we also have to go out and do what we can, focus on policy and not personality, and persuade the people that we lost in 2020 election and get them back on board.
And we can do so. I think it's really important to keep Donald Trump with regard to the base of the party, but there are many people out there not necessarily in this poll, but realize we need to get back to the core principles of Republican Party, limited government, national security, and individual responsibility.
Those are the policies that will help grow the party and that's where we need to focus if we're going to do well in the midterms and that's where many people in the party on the ground in the states are focusing.
BROWN: Meantime, you have Joe Biden with his lowest approval ratings here. What does he need to do to get back on track?
CARDONA: It's interesting that you say low. His approval rating, he is at 52%, which Donald Trump never ever, ever dreamed that he could get to that point in four years.
So, yes, his approval ratings have gone down. But let's look at what he has faced. He has faced a deadly pandemic, the first virus, and then over again, with the delta variant that burned through the country.
He has faced a sluggish economy. He has faced pigheaded Republican elected officials, like governors, who do not want to follow the medicine, who do not want to follow the science, and they are doing everything that they can, to, frankly, not keep Americans safe. And it is their actions that are keeping the economy from really jumpstarting.
And you have yes, the withdrawal of Afghanistan was chaotic. But he also kept his promise to the American people of ending the 20-year war, and he will get a win for that. He will get a win, Democrats will get a win also for passing the American Rescue Plan in the face, again, of stubborn Republicans who refused to join Democrats on any of this.
You look at that poll, and I looked at it across --
BROWN: We have the poll right now. It's a CNN poll. So, I just want to -- you said 53 percent the CNN poll shows 43 percent to 51 percent.
CARDONA: Okay, so that's so okay. So, there was another poll that showed that he was at 52 percent, and that was also -- I think it was also the CNN poll had him at 52 percent approval. But hang on a second.
So, the cross tabs of the CNN poll had all of the top issues for Americans, it was the coronavirus, it was the economy. It was climate change. It was racial unrest, and social equity. All of those issues are issues that would be dealt with and fixed with the infrastructure bill and this reconciliation bill.
And that's why I think you have Republicans that are so wanting to go against Democrats on this, because they understand that it's the Democratic agenda, it's Biden's agenda, the one that is in line with the vast majority of the American people.
STEWART: The problem is, throwing money at all of those problems is not going to fix it. And the President can't say the buck stops with me and blame it on Republicans. The more concerning cross tab out of that poll is amongst Independents who he needs to keep, this disapproval rating with Independents has gone way up, over 50 percent since this last poll, and those are the numbers that are going to be really concerning to him and Democrat.
CARDONA: That's true. And Independents actually are incredibly important. But we have over a year and a half, and then again, when democrats are facing Republicans who refuse to disavow the big lie and want to support the insurrectionist that attacked our democracy, that is not a good place for them to be politically.
BROWN: And by the way, just a note to our viewers, we have a special coming up at 8:00 p.m. on efforts to subvert democracy that you won't want to miss. Alice Stewart and Maria Cardona, thank you, ladies and we have to have you back soon for sure.
STEWART: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: Coming up in the next hour, as we just pointed out, former President Trump's lies over voter fraud have run so rampant that election officials across the country have been threatened and harassed just for doing their jobs.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You rigged my [bleep] election, you [bleep] piece of [bleep]. We're going to try you and we're going to hang you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're coming for you, Claire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really sincerely hope you get what's coming to you. You fraudulent [bleep].
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: Again, those are voicemails left for election officials just doing their jobs. You're going to hear some of the chilling voicemails, more of that, the physical threats to election officials and the threats to American democracy in the special report coming up in our 8:00 p.m. hour. We'll be right back.
BROWN: The fight over the right to an abortion in Texas is escalating. The Department of Justice is suing while the State's Governor is digging in. And abortion providers say it's the women and the pro-choice advocates trying to help them who are facing the most imminent danger.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports from San Antonio.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the nation's seventh largest city, Mikaela Montoya has been busy doing doorstep drop offs. She says demand this week is up because -- MAKAYLA MONTOYA, FOUNDER, BUCKLE BUNNIES FUND: Here is both of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
GALLAGHER (voice over): For family planning packages with contraceptives, Plan B pills, and pregnancy tests.
The hard part she says is finding a way to help the surge in pregnant people reaching out to her organization in need of abortions that are no longer legal in the Lone Star State.
MONTOYA: I mean, it's desperation we got double, at least double the request for assistance since S.B. 8 has passed.
GALLAGHER (voice over): Now as of September 1st, Senate Bill 8 effectively bans all abortions at around six weeks before many people even know that they're pregnant, including in cases of rape and incest.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it from going into effect. It's enforced not by state officials or criminal charges, but by private citizens and power to file civil suits with a minimum $10,000.00 payout against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the law. And that could be doctors or any staff member at an abortion clinic.
Three of the four abortion facilities in San Antonio have temporarily stopped providing the procedure for anyone, and say that they're seeing an uptick in fake calls for help.
JEFFREY HONS, CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD SOUTH TEXAS: When someone gets on the phone with some script from a right-wing organization trying to trip us up, so that they'll get us to admit something that we're not doing so that they can sue us.
GALLAGHER (voice over): The final days of August were like nothing Planned Parenthood's South Texas CEO Jeffrey Hons had ever seen.
HONS: We had days where staff were working 12 and 13-hour days. We had days where we saw more than provided abortion care to more than a hundred people in one day.
GALLAGHER (voice over): But it's not just providers at risk, lawsuits could be filed against a patient's family, friends, a rideshare driver, even people like Montoya and Kimiya Factory who advocates for and assist sexual assault survivors.
KIMIYA FACTORY, COFOUNDER, #CHANGERAPECULTURE: I'm afraid that organizers like me will be targeted for simply believing in the future of the autonomy of our bodies and our minds and our spirits.
GALLAGHER (voice over): Now, advocates are reticent to discuss specifics for fear of triggering lawsuits, but say that they are finding ways around the law. FACTORY: So I sit here fearlessly saying that I will continue to
advocate for the rights of sexual assault survivors.
GALLAGHER (voice over): The strategy right now seems to be getting people in need of an abortion out of state, though it could mean an expensive flight or an eight to 10-hour drive to a clinic with a long waiting list now due to the Texas law.
HONS: Do you think you could get to Albuquerque? Do you want to be connected with an abortion provider in Denver?
MONTOYA: A lot of abortion clinics also in other states are helping us in the way that they can. Some of them are even paying for client's procedures in full, offering assistance with lodging and travels.
GALLAGHER (voice over): But even with financial assistance, this solution isn't possible for everyone, especially people who are undocumented. And though anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood are celebrating the law, claiming it will save lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am super excited. This is a great step.
GALLAGHER (voice over): Advocates tell CNN that unless the courts step in soon, they fear the opposite.
FACTORY: When we talk about survivors who feel like they have nowhere to go, we're talking about suicide, we're talking about choices that are incentivized by violent laws.
HONS: Healthcare providers need to be ready that some of these women then may show up on their doorsteps needing emergency help, and the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, and everyone who voted for this, you have created this and when those things happen, this is on you, gentlemen.
GALLAGHER (on camera): Is that a real fear you guys have?
HONS: I think about it regularly.
GALLAGHER (voice over): Dianne Gallagher, CNN, San Antonio, Texas.
BROWN: And still ahead, the children of 9/11, their emotional tributes to loved ones whose legacy they're carrying on despite having never met.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While we know you through stories told and your legacy, but I will make sure to let that legacy live on, and to never forget you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:52:46]
BROWN: Well, some of the most touching 9/11 tributes yesterday came from those who were born after the horrific attacks. They are the young people who lost fathers and mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers, and aunts and uncles 20 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my grandfather, Martin John Coughlan even though I never got to meet you, I will always carry on your legacy and spirit. I'll never forget you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my uncle Gary Shamay, I love you and wish you were here. My siblings and I will be a beacon of your memory for many years to come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my aunt, Gavkharoy Kamardinova. Not a day goes by without you being missed and loved. I've never gotten to meet you, but I'm sure we would have gotten along so well with you as my aunt.
You have gone too soon, but the memory of you will forever be in our hearts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my uncle who Lukasz Tomasz Milewski, who I never met, but I miss very dearly. My mom always talks about how much of an amazing brother you were. We are so sad you had to go so soon and so young. But I'll love you forever and you'll never be forgotten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well cervical cancer is a disease that is nearly obsolete in the Western world, but it is killing hundreds of thousands of women in more remote and resource poor countries.
Once you learn about this disparity, this week's CNN Hero left her Beverly Hills practice to begin her mission to eradicate cervical cancer globally one woman at a time.
Meet Dr. Patricia Gordon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free cervical cancer screening. Screen and treat for free of charge.
DR. PATRICIA GORDON, CNN HERO: There are 350,000 women dying a painful undignified death globally, and it's almost 100 percent preventable.
So this is everything you need to screen and treat a patient.
We bring in these big suitcases. We teach local healthcare professionals the see and treat technique. At the end of the week of training, we pack up that suitcase and give it to the nurses that are going back to clinics.
Within a day, we can literally save 20 to 30 lives depending on the number of women we screen. There are 8,000 women who are alive and well and able to provide for their families. It is honestly the most rewarding thing that I could have ever imagined in my life.
I think I'm the luckiest doctor that ever lived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: What a story. Go to CNNheroes.com right now to learn Dr. Gordon's full story.
And still ahead, the calls, the tax, the voicemails, and the local election officials who were on the other end. Our special report on Donald Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election, up next.