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Demonstrators Hold Protests In Cities Across U.S. In Support Of Abortion Rights; Widespread Shortages Of Baby Formula In U.S. Causing Panic Among New Parents; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Meets With Congressional Delegation Led By Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; Ukrainian Civilians And Soldiers Still Trapped In Steel Plant In Mariupol; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Comments On Leak Of Draft Overturning Roe v. Wade. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 14, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
And we begin this hour with this top story. The coast-to-coast rallies happening right now, marking a day of action for abortion rights. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the events across all 50 states. The rallies are in response to a U.S. Supreme Court leaked draft opinion revealing a majority of justices are poised to strike down Roe versus Wade. And if overturned, constitutional protections for abortion rights would likely be eliminated in 26 states.
We have reporters who are covering this story in several key locations today. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live for us in the nation's capital. Polo Sandoval is covering the New York event. And Nadia Romero is live for us in Atlanta. Let's begin with Polo. It looks like people are crossing the Brooklyn Bridge?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're practically at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the very first wave of demonstrations. These is live pictures of individual who began this protest about an hour- and-a-half ago on the Brooklyn side, and they have marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, and now they are only just a mere few yards from setting foot on the Manhattan side of the bridge.
There was a really powerful moment, Fred, about maybe 30 minutes ago when we actually captured a separated pro-choice protest that was actually Brooklyn-bound. So there was a really powerful moment when there were demonstrations basically on both sides of the bridge standing in solidarity here.
The NYPD has been basically clearing the way for these demonstrators to be able to peacefully march over the Brooklyn Bridge and essentially take over the lanes of traffic that are usually dedicated to vehicle traffic. So again, as you take these pictures in here, it's definitely an impressive size crowd that began their march not just standing against that leaked memorandum from the Supreme Court a little under two weeks ago, but also, according to one supporter, one man from Queens who told me, this is also an effort to send a message to women in other states, those that perhaps have not historically leaned pro-choice.
So that is really the message that we're getting here as we continue to see people, mainly women but many men as well, march from Brooklyn into Manhattan for this mile-and-a-half pro-choice march.
WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you so much. Let's go to the nation's capital. Shimon Prokupecz is there. What's happening?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, so we came out of the area of the park where the speakers, where they're having the speakers speak, and the rally here. To show you outside, as we get ready to march, the march is supposed to set off here shortly. Some of the speakers are still going.
So many of the people here are gathered now outside here. We've been seeing a steady, steady extreme of people still coming here as they prepare to march. The police are set up here. The theme here really for most people is just to keep fighting, don't give up. The fact that this leaked draft opinion came out, they're saying that should not allow people to lose hope, that the fight has to continue, reminding people that there is an election in November.
And one of the overwhelming themes, Fred, that we have been hearing from the speakers here today is how this ruling, should it stand, should Roe get overturned, is that it's going to affect underserved communities, low-income communities. And that's what we've been hearing so much from many of the people who have taken the stage here to talk about their own experiences in their life and saying that this is something that could really affect so many of the people who really can't afford to move around the country should they need this kind of care.
And the other thing, we are seeing some counterprotests, small pockets here outside of the rally area here on the corners. They've gathered here. Obviously, it's been very peaceful, but they've been standing there having their viewpoints being heard. As we get ready for this march to set off what should happen here shortly, the police are getting ready. There's also a marching band here which is going to kick off the rally, which should get off here in the next few minutes or so, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll check back with you, Shimon. Thank you so much. Nadia Romero is in Atlanta where there have been a number of speakers at a rally there. Tell us what's happening.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, for the past two hours we've heard really passionate speeches from many people, from people who say that they are part of the health care industry, that they've worked at abortion clinics, and they've helped women make that difficult decision and made sure they have a safe, legal way to get an abortion. We also heard from women who shared their stories, their own personal stories of why they received an abortion. Even one woman says that she had one just two weeks ago. And I spoke with a woman by the name of Caitlin Jones. She is a mother
of four-year-old twins. She said she very much wanted to be pregnant, and she wanted to make sure that her daughter had the same right to choose when she's older. And she said this was a very difficult decision, but she shared with me why she received an abortion years ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAITLIN JONES, RALLY ATTENDEE: I have four-year-old twins. And I always wanted kids. And it was kind of a journey to get there, and it involved a failed pregnancy that might have killed me if not for abortion. So yes, I think it's complex, and I think it should be between a woman and her doctor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: And you hear so many women today who took the mic that said it shouldn't have to be rape or incest for a woman to choose what's best for her body, her reproductive health, and her rights. I also spoke with a man, Javan (ph), who came out here by himself. And I want to say about a third of the crowd is full of men. And he says, Nadia, I don't have a uterus, but my mother does, my sisters do. I don't think I should have the right to tell them what to do with their body, and that's why I'm here. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Nadia Romero in Atlanta, thanks to all our correspondents just dotting the map today. Thank you so much. We'll check back with you.
Coming up, the nationwide shortage of baby formula could get worse. We'll talk to a pediatrician about what parents should do.
WHITFIELD: All right, parents across the U.S. are scrambling as a nationwide baby formula shortage gets even worse. Sky high inflation, supply chain delays, and a recent recall at a major U.S. formula manufacturer have all played a part in this crisis. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Eleven-month-old Whalen (ph) Houston is happy with her bottle now, but you should have seen her a few months ago when she had no choice but to drink baby formula that hurt her stomach.
COURTNEY HOUSTON, MOTHER: She was crying, she wouldn't drink it. So then of course she wasn't full, and she was just very irritable.
COHEN: Whalen (ph) had to stop drinking her regular brand of baby formula a few months ago. A recall of some lots of Similac and supply chain issues have caused widespread formula shortages. Her parents couldn't find the brand near their home in Gainesville, Georgia. It wasn't online. Friends and family couldn't find it where they live either.
HOUSTON: It's terrifying. It's terrifying when that's the only true source of nutrition that your baby gets, because it would get to the point when you get to a store and you almost cry.
COHEN: Nationwide, 43 percent of baby formula stock is gone. Parents are desperate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaving us with only a few options that work with our babies' sensitive tummies.
COHEN: This dad made a TikTok about searching for formula for his new twins in San Diego, saying he's nervous and scared about what will happen in the coming weeks.
The mom of these preemie twins in Avon, Connecticut, spent hours a day searching for formula. And this mom in Springfield, Ohio, she can't find her son's regular formula and has to give him other brands that hurt his stomach.
JOY GREENE, SPRINGFIELD, OHIO: It's been scary to walk down the aisles and see empty shelves and, honestly, not be able to find the exact formula that we need.
COHEN: No matter how desperate, the FDA, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics say don't make your own baby formula. It could be dangerous for the baby.
Whalen's (ph) parents, unable to find a formula that worked for her, transitioned Whalen (ph) to cow's milk at 11-months-old, a month earlier than recommended. Her pediatrician says she's doing great.
It's not clear when the shortage will end. Production at a Michigan plant that makes Similac is still shut down. The manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, says it's increasing production in other plants and air shipping formula from Ireland. The FDA is asking retailers to limit how much formula customers can buy, and the agency is meeting regularly with Abbott and other formula makers.
DR. ROBERT CALIFF, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: The work is ongoing to bring the plant up to speed. In the meanwhile, we've been working with all the manufacturers to make sure there is a supply of infant formula.
COHEN: But parents say they need a better solution right now.
HOUSTON: It's not something that a parent should have to deal with.
COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: It is an incredible struggle. And here is Dr. Edith Bracho- Sanchez with her very cute seven-month-old who is so excited to be with us, too. William --
DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IRVING MEDICAL CENTER: So excited. It's good to see you.
WHITFIELD: I love this, wonderful. I love that he is all gums.
Look, you can relate, right, as a mom to a seven-month-old the kind of struggle that so many families are now dealing with. They may have been married to a particular type of formula, and now they're having to make a whole lot of adjustments. So what is your advice, what are you doing, what kind of advice are you giving to other moms and dads?
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: So I guess the first thing I'll say is I can't imagine what some parents are going through right now. When William was born, while my milk was coming in, he's fortunately a breast-fed baby, but while my milk was coming in, we had to use formula. I had a c-section, it took a while. And it's just not a position that parents need to be in right now. It's been really, really hard for some families.
So I would say talk with your pediatrician if you are having trouble finding formula and finding formula that your baby can drink. I think, Fredricka, for a lot of families, it's a matter of finding a different brand and from a different store, and most babies will be OK. But if your baby has a specific condition, it becomes a little bit tricky, right, finding the right type of formula. So call us, we're here. We get it, obviously, right?
WHITFIELD: Yes. Well, what are some of the questions people need to ask? Because I nursed all three of my kids, too, but then for my twins I had to supplement my breast milk for also using some formula, but then they had to be very specific because they were preemies.
So what are some of the questions that some parents need to be asking? Because it's not as simple as just saying, hey, where do I find some formula and what can I do to transition? But there are some real specifications that have to be met for every individual family.
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: That's right. So the first thing you want to ask is, what is an equivalent formula. If your baby is taking a formula because they have a specific allergy or a specific condition, you want to ask what an equivalent is. And you want to make sure that you are finding something that your baby can tolerate. I think some people don't realize that formula is made for babies to be able to get enough nutrients and the way they can digest it, right.
So it's not just nutrients. It's nutrients in a way that babies can digest them and be able to take them into their bodies without getting any harm. So it's the equivalent, and being able to do it in a way that's safe.
WHITFIELD: Right, and there are some families who are saying, OK, I've got a little supply right now. What if I were to water it down a little bit. What's your response to them?
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: So, very unsafe. And Fredricka, I'm going to just briefly transition this little guy to my husband so we can keep chatting. WHITFIELD: Thanks, dad.
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Very unsafe. So I think people may not realize that when you do that, when you water down formula, it can actually lead to something called water intoxication. The kidneys of babies are not developed to filter out excess water in the body.
So it can actually be extremely dangerous, can lead to low levels of sodium, can lead to seizures. So it's really not that simple. Before you do any of that, call us, as I said at the beginning of the segment, please call us. We're here ready to help you.
WHITFIELD: OK, and then there are a number of women who are pregnant right now. And we all know, when you're pregnant, you're in planning stage, whether it be planning for your nursery, trying to plan what your delivery experience might be like. And now there are some pregnant women who are saying to themselves, OK, now I have added anxiety about whether I need to breast-feed or whether I can rely on formulas. What kind of advice, what do you tell them right now about these added anxieties?
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Yes, so I would say you have enough to worry about right now, truly. I really do believe that this is going to be solved in the weeks to come. And we still have so many options in addition to supporting you to breastfeed.
So if breastfeeding is your choice, we are here as pediatricians to support you. And employers, family, friends, can do the best they can to support you, because it is incredibly hard. I speak from experience, it really is incredibly hard to set up breastfeeding, right.
So we are here to support you. If the formula issue continues, if the supply shortage continues, we will also support you through that. So please believe if you're pregnant out there, just don't add this to your list of anxieties right now.
WHITFIELD: We love your optimism.
OK, now let me shift gears a little bit, because a lot of parents are very worried about this spike of alarming, very mysterious set of cases involving hepatitis in children, hundreds around the world, in fact. And here in the United States, the CDC is investigating 109 cases including five deaths. So what do people need to be on the lookout for? What do they need to understand about what's happening here?
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Yes, so I think the first thing I would say is that it is incredibly rare for children to become this ill with hepatitis. We're talking about an infection of the liver. It is incredibly rare. But now is the time to understand what the signs are, as you mentioned, right?
So if you are noticing that your child is not acting themselves, is having incredibly high fevers, is looking like they're a little bit yellow, like their skin has a little bit of a yellow tint, so do their eyes, they have light colored stools or dark colored urine, those are signs that your child may have hepatitis.
Again, we are here to support you. Fredricka, every time I come on your show, I just try to say make sure that you have a way to reach your pediatrician, because you should be reaching out before your child develops those signs. You should be reaching out with early concerns. And again, this remains rare, but we're all educating ourselves.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much for imparting your advice to us and inviting and educating all of us about some very tough topics. Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, and thanks to little William there, too, he did great.
BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, the siege of the steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, continues. Ukrainian officials now say they are open to Turkish or Chinese mediation to help arrange the evacuation of wounded soldiers. We're live in Kyiv, next.
And take a look at these at these live pictures out of the nation's capital right now. Crowds have begun marching toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
WHITFIELD: Ukraine's deputy prime minister says her government welcomes the prospect of Turkey or China helping to mediate the evacuation of Ukrainians still trapped inside a steel plant in Mariupol. There are believed for hundreds of soldiers still trapped in the facility which has been under siege for weeks by Russian forces. CNN's Melissa Bell is in Kyiv. Melissa, has China or Turkey shown any interest in mediating?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Until now, Fredricka, this had been unclear. We went to another press conference today here in Kyiv held by the family members of those many hundreds of Ukrainian fighters, many of them, Fredricka, 20, 21, 22-year-old women and men.
It is their mothers, their fathers who have been getting together regularly to make these desperate appeals for outside intervention. What we understand now is that the presidency of Turkey, through the voice of a spokesman, has said there is a boat, a ship that is ready and docked off Istanbul, ready to go and collect these many hundreds of wounded fighters if a deal is struck.
Now, just to remind our viewers exactly what's going on within this Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, dire conditions from what we're hearing inside, very infrequent contact with these young men and women. We understand that medical supplies have run out. And we're talking about many of them wounded, amputees, life-threatening conditions, with nothing to help alleviate the pain.
They are also, Fredricka, now running out of food. And what their parents tell us is that they probably have another week's supply, that essentially, if they don't get help from the outside world, they will die.
We spoke to one of those mothers outside that press conference today appealing for help from either the Turkish or the Chinese presidency and who spoke to us of her some Artem (ph). He is a 21-year-old man that she hasn't seen since the month of February and who last called her, managed to get through to her on May 9th for Mother's Day. This is what she had to tell us about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TANYA VYCHNYK, MOTHER OF AZOV SOLDIER (through translator): I have a strong tie with him. I always feel when he calls I shouldn't be saying anything because it's hard for him, and I keep silent. When he wants to say something, he does. It is hell there. They are in the real hell. They deserve to stand on the surface of the earth and see the sun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: We wait to hear, then, whether Russian authorities will allow this extraction to take place, and we will of course be following that closely.
There is some good news for Ukrainian forces, though, from its main battlefields in the east of the country where Russian forces have been trying to concentrate their forces and push forward and advance, and desperately to try and cross a particular river.
CNN has managed to see with satellite footage eyewitness accounts that it is possible to corroborate the Ukrainian account of the battle that's been going along this river for the last few days where Ukrainians had said, and it seems evidence now shows, that the Russians have suffered a serious rout, with many men lost, equipment left by the side of the road, several pontoon bridges they've been trying to construct destroyed by Ukrainian forces.
And this is crucial because it means that the momentum of where they've concentrated their forces in this latest offensive to try and push northwards from their stronghold in Luhansk seems for now to have failed.
Of course, Ukrainians saying that time is of the essence here as well. They say they're running out of weaponry, that they need more help. And of course, that is why President Zelenskyy was so keen, today, Fredricka, to welcome a congressional visit. It was led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who was leading a team of, there were four Republican Congressmen in all who came all the way to Kyiv.
We don't know exactly when this visit happened. We just got the video of it today, a meeting between Zelenskyy and these four Congressmen. And what Zelenskyy said afterwards is that he saw it as a strong sign of American support for Ukrainian efforts. It comes of course, Fredricka, in the context of that $40 billion aid package that is currently stalled in the Senate.
But with bipartisan support, it is believed it will get through. It is for the time being the objections of Senator Rand Paul that have slowed it down. President Zelenskyy clearing showing through that visit that he hoped that that meant the support would come through.
As far as the Ukrainians are concerned, that American support that is both humanitarian and military, they say is crucial to their ongoing efforts not only to push ahead with their counteroffensive that's been so effective in the north of the country towards Kharkiv, but also, again, to keep this latest Russian offensive at bay, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Melissa Bell, thank you so much.
Coming up, Justice Clarence Thomas speaking up on the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe versus Wade, and warns that America is, I'm quoting now, "in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society," end quote. Details and more straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right, we're continuing to monitor more than 200 abortion rights rallies today across all 50 states. They're gathering in response to a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe versus Wade. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live for us in the nation's capital. Camila Bernal is live for us in Los Angeles.
Let's check in with you, Shimon, as you're working your way along with a number of folks out for the rally, making their way to the Supreme Court, correct?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're on Constitution and Ninth now. We just passed, those of who you are familiar with this area, we actually just passed the Department of Justice. So thousands, and we can't see all the way far back here, but certainly thousands were gathered at the area of the rally. And then more people started streaming in just before 2:00 for this march, which started about 20 minutes or so ago.
We're about halfway or so into the Supreme Court area. And you can see everyone out here. I've been talking to some of the people in the crowd. They are very hopeful, the fact that they're all getting together in this way, they feel that there is hope. There's hope in this community. There's hope in this fight. And people traveled here from across the country to be here for this march as it heads towards the Supreme Court.
As you can see behind me, these are the organizers of the event here at the front of the line as they march and walk towards the Supreme Court. We have seen, Fred, some counter-protesters along the way, small pockets of it. But for the most part, this has been very peaceful.
People are out here. We're hearing chants such as "Abortion as a right, we won't give up this fight." And that's what this has been about this day, for all of them here, to say that they are not going to give up this fight.
The other overwhelming concern here certainly has been how this affects people in the poorer communities, people in underserved communities. That is something that is on the top of mind of many of the people who have gathered here, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Shimon, thank you so much.
Let's go on to Los Angeles now. Camila, last hour when we checked in with you, Mayor Eric Garcetti was addressing the crowd. What more is being said?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. Yes, a number of speakers who say that California will continue to fight for women to have the right to an abortion, to a safe abortion. We heard from a number of speakers. There was music, there's dancing.
You hear the crowd cheering. You see the signs. And we're talking about children, women, men, people of all ages who are here to support the women of California and really the women all around the country.
Organizers expected about 50,000 people here today. This is an event that was planned even before the draft opinion was leaked. And now they say they're going to continue to fight, and they're going to continue to organize. I spoke to a number of activists, all of them telling me that from now until the Supreme Court opinion becomes official, they're going to continue to hold these rallies, marches, go out to the streets, have school walkouts, you name it. I talked to one of those activists, and here is what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SKYLAR SOLOMON, ABORTION RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This leak has gifted us a profound opportunity to fight back and prevent the overturn of Roe by acting and getting out into the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And everyone that I've talked to has been extremely passionate. They say they will continue to be out on the streets, because a lot of these activists say that women will have to fight for their rights and will have to continue to do so. California is key in all of this because it is a state that protects abortions. So activists and organizers, they expect more and more women coming to California in search of a safe abortion. And so that's why this state is key in all of this, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Camila Bernal, Shimon Prokupecz, thanks to both of you, I appreciate it. So on the eve of thousands of women and men rallying across the
country today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke out in Dallas, commenting about the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion and how the court, in his view, is changing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I just think they bring -- that anybody who would, for example, have an attitude toward leaked documents, that general attitude is your future on the bench. And you need to be concerned about that. And we never had that before. We actually trusted -- it was -- we may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family, and we loved it. You trusted each other. You laughed together. You went to lunch together every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Let's bring in now CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue. So good to see you. So what do we make of what he's saying? Is he talking about his concern for sort of a breach of what usually is secrecy ahead of the release of opinions? Or is he speaking more about what was the intimacy of the nine and the support staff? How do we understand what he's saying there?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right, Fred, well, this is the first time we've had a Supreme Court justice respond on camera. And that's Justice Clarence Thomas, as you said. And his language was so strong. He called this tremendously bad. He said it's like an infidelity. And he said now the justices are basically looking over their shoulders because they feel this lack of trust.
And Fred, that's a lot stronger sentiment than we've heard before, because Chief Justice John Roberts, he called this appalling. But he suggested in a statement that it wasn't going to impact the work of the court.
That is not what Clarence Thomas said in that speech. He basically said he's worried. And he suggested that the leaker here is trying to destroy the institution. And for Clarence Thomas, he really believes in the necessity of stable institutions. So to answer your question, he is aiming his comments at the leaker.
And of course, we don't know who that is, but a lot of people say if it's a liberal, it's somebody who wants to warn the country about what's going on, or if it's a conservative, it's somebody who wants to hold on to that five-member majority in that draft opinion. And he really targeted them last night in those comments.
WHITFIELD: And in fact, like you say, he really said a lot, which is very unusual for a sitting justice to talk about something that's ongoing. He also made the comment about precedent and the court. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Even with stare decisis, you will see in a lot of those instances where people start -- they run out of arguments. I always say when someone uses stare decisis, that means they're out of arguments, and that now they're just sort of waving the white flag, and I just keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So are we to decipher that he really is undermining the value of precedent, which was an argument that so many justice nominees made during confirmation hearings, that, in the example of Roe versus Wade, there is precedent, and it is the law of the land. He's saying they've thrown in the towel?
DE VOGUE: He's interesting, because of all the justices on the court, he has always been the one who is least apt to follow precedent. And we've seen this draft opinion. The draft dissent, if it's out there somewhere, that's what they're going to target, because the liberal peer would say you can't just overthrow 50-year-old precedent that women have come to rely on across the country.
And the liberals will say that that is just not right because the law is built on precedent, and if you pull out one of those building blocks, then everything comes down. But Clarence Thomas saying that last night, he is repeating something that he has said again and again, that just because a ruling has been on the books for 50 years, that doesn't mean it's right. And here, when it comes to abortion, he thinks that this issue should go back to the states.
WHITFIELD: All very striking. Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much for breaking it down for us, appreciate it.
Still ahead, in Laguna Niguel, California, hundreds of homes still under evacuation, as firefighters battle the coastal fire. We'll talk to the mayor of Laguna Niguel next.
WHITFIELD: Taking a look at weather right now, dry conditions across the country, drought cutting a wide swath from California to Kansas while fires are still burning in New Mexico and an early heat wave is building this week across the south. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Wow, this is tough.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is, and it's in a lot of places. I think that's the real important to note is the scope of this heatwave. You have potential records that stretch from California all the way over to Florida and even a couple in the northeast possible, not only today but any time from now until the next seven days. In fact, some of these areas especially across Texas, San Angelo, for example, could end up breaking records five days in a row over the next week as those temperatures basically remain in triple-digit numbers. And yes, when we talk about the southwest, these are hot places, we
get it. Phoenix, it's normally hot. But even by their standards, this is above average. Phoenix is expected to reach 103 today, that's 11 degrees above average. Tucson, Las Vegas, also expected to be about 10 degrees above average.
One of the other components of the heat is how it's making it very difficult for the firefighters who are out trying to battle a lot of the ongoing fires across the country. One of those is the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fire that's currently ongoing in New Mexico. You can see kind of the smoke plumes there.
And this red highlighted area is all of the acres that have already burned. The containment right now is below 30 percent. The hope is really in the next 24 hours to make some increases in that containment before conditions start to deteriorate very quickly on Monday.
Right now, that fire is in second place in terms of the largest New Mexico wildfires in terms of acres burned. But one thing to note, Fred, is over the next week or so, that could end up climbing to the number one spot.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
And then right now more than 130 homes are still under evacuation orders in Orange County, California, where the coastal fire continues to burn. Just look at those images. The fires have ripped through 200 acres, destroyed 20 homes in the city of Laguna Niguel, and damaging at least 11 others.
Elaine Gennawey is joining me right now. She's the mayor of Laguna Niguel, California. Ms. Mayor Gennawey, I'm so sorry this is happening to you and your neighbors. So what is the latest of the containment there?
MAYOR ELAINE GENNAWEY, LAGUNA NIGUEL, CALIFORNIA: Well, I just got back to city hall from touring the impacted area, as well as our care shelter at Crown Valley Community Center. And the containment is, we continually work on that. OCFA continues to work on that. Right now it's about 40 percent.
We did have some good news yesterday. Originally, we had 900 homes in the evacuation area, and late yesterday we were able to reduce that to 131 homes. Continuing to work on that, but want to make sure that it is safe for residents to return to their neighborhoods. It is still an active fire area.
We may not see smoke in the sky, but there are a lot of embers and hotspots that need to be addressed before we can let any residents back to their home. So there's still 131 homes. We hope to have some good news but can't say yet. We do wait for the clearance from the Orange County fire authority. But our community, the outreach from our community has been tremendous. WHITFIELD: Yes. You're living it. And your constituents are living it.
But looking at these images, it is just so hard to believe. And are you getting a better explanation as to how in the world something like this could happen in this manner?
Here you are, a coastal community, usually people have become accustomed to seeing wildfires raging in wooded areas, enveloping houses in the peaks and the canyons. But then in a community on a coast like this, what have officials been telling you about the nature of this fire?
GENNAWEY: Well, in this area we do have a lot of hillsides. We've had high winds lately. It's been very dry. And the weather is hot. Today we're in the 80s, which is pretty warm for this time of year, even though it's southern California, it is warm, and the humidity has been very low. But when you have winds coming through the hillsides and it kind of channels the wind, it does create a situation where it is difficult to fight the fires, and it accelerates the speed at which the fire moves.
As far as any causes, that will be under investigation. We don't have that determined, but that will be under investigation. But right now our concern is the safety of our residents and getting as many as we can back into their homes.
WHITFIELD: And what have the conversations been like with people who have lost their homes, lost everything?
GENNAWEY: Well, we have a city's fire response team. They have already contacted the residents that are in homes that have been destroyed. We have a concierge process in place to walk with them through the entire process that they will have one point of contact to go out to their property, to meet with them, and to provide whatever assistance and information that we can.
So the homeowners that have been contacted, there's a full range of emotion. Some are still in shock, as many in our community are, and some are saying we are ready to rebuild. So there's that full range. And we will meet the homeowners where they are, where they are as far as in their process of realizing what has happened and making their plans.
But our city team has been fantastic in reaching out to the residents. Our Orange County Fire Authority, even the firefighters who are out on the lines, when they come into contact with residents, they are very compassionate, and they are very caring. We've had that response back from the residents in the area, and as have our sheriff deputies. We have the Orange County sheriff deputies who work for Laguna Niguel police services, and they've been incredible as well. So we've had a lot of --
WHITFIELD: I'm so sorry you all have to go through this.
GENNAWEY: Yes. It has really impacted our community, but we have a very close community.
WHITFIELD: I'm glad to hear that. That is powerful. Mayor Elaine Gennawey, thank you so much. All the best to you.
GENNAWEY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks for being with me this afternoon. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN Newsroom continues right after this.
But first, this week's "Taking Care of Business."
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TARA GOMEZ, CO-FOUNDER, CAMINS 2 DREAMS: I feel with the connection to my ancestors that I'm able to understand better the growth cycle. and listening to the vines I feel their strength. I am indigenous, from the Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians.
I've been in the wine industry for 24 years now. With the financial support of my Chumash tribe, I was able to go off to college and get my degree. I'm the co-founder, co-winemaker of Camins 2 Dreams that I share with my wife, Mireia. We source our grapes from the central coast of California.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Camins 2 Dreams focuses on low intervention, natural wine making from grape to bottle, meaning to additives added to the wine.
GOMEZ: We have 10 different wines on the market right now. My indigenous heritage, of course, shows itself in the winemaking process because I'm really always searching for the balance and the wine, the chemistry and the vineyard. The future hopes for Camins 2 Dreams is to one day have our own vineyard.
I am the first Native American winemaker to be recognized here in the country. I'm of course very proud, but also, too, very humbled. I'm trying to create that path for other people that are like me in this industry. I'm here to cheer them on and be a support group for them.
(END VIDEO TAPE)