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New Day Saturday
Parents Of Alleged Michigan School Shooter Arrested In Detroit; School Shooting Suspect's Parents Charged With 4 Counts Of Involuntary Manslaughter; Officials Ramp Up Surveillance Efforts As Omicron Spreads In U.S.; Dr. Oz Running As Republican In Crowded PA Senate Race; Supreme Court Conservatives Lean Toward Limiting Abortion Rights. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired December 04, 2021 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: But that may change this weekend. We've got another storm system making its way across the northern tier likely to dump some pretty decent snow starting tomorrow.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Skiing in Hawaii. Who would have thought?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Paka Parko (ph) with that --
SANCHEZ: -- Hawaiian shirt and leg (ph).
SANCHEZ: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Buenos dias, good morning. It is Saturday, December 4th. I'm Boris Sanchez. Welcome to your New Day.
PAUL: Yes. And I'm Christi Paul. Hi, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Great to see you, Christi.
PAUL: Yes, we have some breaking news to get to this morning.
SANCHEZ: Yes. We start in Michigan where James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Oxford high school shooting suspect, are expected to be arraigned on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Police arrested the couple early this morning in a Detroit warehouse where they were hiding.
This is exclusive footage to CNN of the moments right after they were apprehended. This followed an hours long manhunt for the fugitives who were supposed to turn themselves in yesterday.
PAUL: Now how the two were able to evade authorities and leave town while under surveillance? That is something that they say needs to be dealt with. Oakland County, Michigan Sheriff Michael Bouchard, did admit his officers are stretched thin, investigating this tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: The surveillance team is quite a few people and they work around the clock. Those people are working the actual homicide. So I would have had to uphold them off of investigating the deaths at the school. We have to interview thousands of people that were in and around the school. We have to go through hundreds and thousands of hours of digital evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: It is an expensive job, obviously. CNN's Athena Jones live in Pontiac, Michigan for us, outside the sheriff's office this morning, Athena, good to see you. What are they saying this morning?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Well, we know that Jennifer and James Crumbley are expected to be arraigned later this morning, sometime after 9:00 a.m. So they will then be facing those charges. And of course, now that they've made this attempt to escape, it is very unlikely that they're going to have a bail or low bail at least, they may have a very, very high bail because they're clearly people who were trying to escape.
We know that they withdrew $4,000 from an ATM near here over the course of yesterday, over the course of Friday. And we know that it took several hours for law enforcement, not just Detroit Police, but also FBI, U.S. Marshals to track this couple down. They did so with the help of a tip from a business owner in the community.
Listen to what Detroit -- the Detroit Police Chief had to say about tracking that couple down last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JAMES E. WHITE, DETROIT POLICE: See something, say something again. Our community has been amazing. And thank you community. Thank you for working with us, partnering with this police agency. There's been a number of cases recently that we could not have gotten where we are without our community.
Tonight, again, our community came through for us. So thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And so Jennifer and James Crumbley will be facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. And the Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald explained why it was so important to hold these parents accountable. Because they were criminally negligent. They did not act when they should and their actions could have saved the lives of these four teenagers, and of seven others who were injured.
Listen to what Karen McDonald had to say about why she chose to charge these parents. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN PROSECUTOR: I couldn't even imagine not holding those two people responsible. They bought a weapon for their son and had every reason to believe, at least the day before and certainly the morning of -- that he was very likely going to commit a violent act. And they did nothing. They did nothing. They allowed him to go back to class and walked out of that building and never once thought or cared enough to say to a school official or anyone else, our son has a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And so there you heard it directly from the Oakland County Prosecutor who had begun kind of telegraphing that these charges will be coming at least the day before. At a press conference on Thursday, she had said that she should have charges or might have charges against the parents within the next 24 hours. That is what happened. And so that is why there's so many questions about how they were allowed to kind of to escape at least for several hours over the course of Friday.
SANCHEZ: Athena Jones, thank you so much.
PAUL: Thank you, Athena.
We're going to talking now to someone who knows this pain and heartbreak very well, losing a child in a school attack. Nicole Hockley's six-year-old son, Dylan, was killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. She's the co-founder and the CEO of Sandy Hook Promise which advocates for gun legislation to protect our children.
Nicole, I'm so grateful to have you with us. Thank you. We just heard there why these parents are being charged. I know that you advocate for the importance of if you see something, say something. And in this case, what is so striking is that not only were the parents told something, they were shown something.
They were shown these notes that were found from their son, that depicted violence against people and had words like, the thoughts won't stop, help me and my life is useless, the world is dead. What is your gut reaction to the lack of action that was taken by these parents?
NICOLE HOCKLEY, CEO, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: Honestly, I think the lack of action is unconscionable. We teach our kids across the country every day to -- when they see something, when something is concerning, to speak up. And we have to be vigilant about these warning signs.
It sounds like some students try to report things, that teachers tried to report things for parents not to take that seriously and take action for a child who clearly needed help. That is unconscionable and that is unforgiveable in my opinion.
PAUL: You know, you, last spring, wrote a piece on CNN.com about gun control legislation and notably pointed out these falls on the shoulders of Congress. And as the CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise organization, again, you are on a mission to protect children from gun violence. Do you feel Congress has heard you?
HOCKLEY: I feel Congress's listened, but I don't think they've taken enough action. There's a lot that we can do in our schools and communities. And that's the actions that we're taking every day that are saving lives. But we also need laws to enforce these actions.
And I think Congress has stalled on a lot of the simplest things that we need to do, such as background checks, and extreme risk protection orders. And those are things and safe storage. And those are things that could have made a difference in this case as well.
PAUL: What do you think is the blockade?
HOCKLEY: I think a blockade is that we are currently a country that is more interested in fighting than we are in doing the right thing. I think politics are getting in the way of what's right for people. And we need to focus on what's important, and that's protecting our kids and creating a more inclusive and connected society. This is within our power, we just need to get over our egos.
PAUL: So every -- you write in this article for CNN.com last spring, you write something that is very, I think, striking to any parent. You write that, "Every day I kiss the urn that holds my son's ashes, wondering what his life would have been like." This, obviously, a very difficult week for you, because this is the time of year when that shooting happened. And when you feel all of that come up again. How do this shooting this week and seeing that affect you?
HOCKLEY: Every school shooting affects me in a large, insignificant way. Every shooting, regardless of whether it's a school shooting, that the loss of life is tragic, and I understand a parent's feelings at this moment. When it comes in December, though, I am not going to lie, it hits me that much harder, because I'm already very sensitive leading up to 12/14. And the remembrance of my son being murdered.
PAUL: I'm so sorry. I cannot imagine. I don't think any of us parents can really imagine what this has to be like for all of you. What -- if you could sit down with Ethan Crumbley's parents, is there anything you would want to say to them?
HOCKLEY: I'm not sure I'd have words to speak to the shooter's parents. I would much more prefer to speak to the parents of the community of those who lost children, whose children were murdered or wounded. And the community that is facing the ongoing trauma and ripple effects of this tragedy. I would want to give them my kindness and my compassion and my unfortunate lived experience that you will survive this, but it can be very, very hard and to treat each other kindly and with deep compassion.
PAUL: Is there anything that was said to you in those moments that you repeat when talking to parents who now are in this unfortunate instance of sharing an experience like this? I mean, I asked what you would say to their parents. What specifically would you say to the parents of the people who now know that pain that you feel on a very real raw level?
HOCKLEY: I think I would remind them that this is irreparable damage to your heart and to your family. And you can find a way forward and through this.
And honestly, some of the advice that I received from President Biden when he was the Vice President, a man who has experienced significant tragedy himself, his advice around keeping a marker for each day and rating it. And you might never get a 10-day again, which is a great day, and you might be in the low ones and twos for a long period of time, but over time, you will see the numbers getting higher as you find your way forward again. That was advice that he gave to me and my mother and other people and advice that I still hold close to my heart.
PAUL: Nicole Hockley, you are so strong. Thank you so much for the mission that you're on and for the work that you do, because there are so many parents that need you. Nicole Hockley, thank you,
HOCKLEY: Thank you. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: And before we go to break, we want to take another moment to remember the students who lost their lives and show you their faces. Tate Myre was 16 years old. Madisyn Baldwin was 17.
PAUL: You also see there Hana St. Juliana, who was just 14 years old. And Justin Shilling, who was 17. Certainly, thoughts and prayers. And hopefully, action of some sort going to all of those parents in that community. We'll be right back.
PAUL: Right now, the U.S. is tapping 100,000 daily new COVID cases for the first time in two months. Now this is happening as President Biden unveiled his new COVID strategy this week aiming to fight a potential winter surge.
SANCHEZ: It also comes as the list of states in the United States detecting the new Omicron variant continues to grow. Though, health experts warn that the Delta variant is still a major threat.
Let's go to CNN's Nadia Romero. She joins us now live. And Nadia, some of these numbers are trending in the wrong direction?
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Boris and Christi. And people who are on the front lines of fighting against this pandemic are all pointing to the timing. This comes just after last weekend. Holiday travelers for Thanksgiving reached a pandemic record going through airports according to TSA and now you have all of the other holidays that are happening right now and upcoming throughout the rest of this month.
But health experts still argue that the vaccine, the booster shot, that is still your best bet against this variant and others.
LAUREN MOON, SEQUENCING MANAGER: So, there are like millions upon millions of tiny little microscopic wells on here.
ROMERO (voice-over): About 30,000 COVID-19 positive samples tested per day by North Carolina Diagnostic Laboratory MAKO Medical. A key step in tracing the spread of the Omicron variant.
MATTHEW TUGWELL, DIRECTOR OF GENOMICS AT MAKO MEDICAL: Every time it transmits from a person to another person, it's another chance for the virus to mutate and change into something different.
ROMERO (voice-over): Last week, South Africa became the first to announce it had identified the Omicron variant. But we now know that even then, the variant was already present in the United States. The day after Thanksgiving, the Biden administration announced travelers from eight countries in southern Africa would not be allowed into the U.S., sparking international criticism.
But a week later, the administration making this announcement.
JEFFREY ZIENTS, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE United States: Already, we have shipped for free with no strings attached, 291 million doses to 110 different countries. That's more vaccines donated and shipped by the United States than all other countries in the world combined.
ROMERO (voice-over): A welcome move by the World Health Organization.
DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SPOKESWOMAN: That is great because it's -- I'm sorry that it took Omicron to make people understand how serious this is because we have been saying and you've been saying that we need to vaccinate the whole world so that we don't give the virus a chance to turn itself into a more effective version.
ROMERO (voice-over): To fight this variant, the makers of the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccines say they can modify their current vaccine formula, but it will take time.
UGUR SAHIN, CEO, BIONTECH: If we develop a vaccine, a new vaccine, we will most likely not be able to prevent the first base of infections, OK, with a new vaccine because it will take about 100 day, yes, to develop a new and distribute a new vaccine or start to distribute anew vaccine.
ROMERO (voice-over): While the Omicron variant is already here, the full extent of its potential to wreak havoc is still unknown.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: What we do know is that early data and even mutation data are telling us that this may well be a more transmissible variant than Delta. And so, we're -- this is going to take some time to sort out.
ROMERO: So the newest Biden administration travel policy starts on Monday. All international travelers will need to have a negative COVID-19 test the day before their fly. But Boris and Christi, there is no travel restrictions now for domestic travelers. Christi?
PAUL: Nadia Romero, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
SANCHEZ: Right now, the race is on to catch and stop the new COVID variant in its tracks. But how exactly does the U.S. go about that? CNN got rear access to a lab that has already identified several confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the United States and is on the cutting edge of detecting the ever-changing virus.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher has that story.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the front line in the hunt for Omicron in the U.S. After you finished that often-uncomfortable COVID test --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're doing great. Perfect. Next nostril.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): It's usually ship to a place like MAKO Medical laboratories, just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina.
TUGWELL: 10,000 square feet just COVID processing.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): MAKO sequences samples taken in more than 40 states.
TUGWELL: 30,000 per day is how many we're processing right now. So that's about 100,000 or so per week.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Labs like this are key in detecting the Omicron variant in the United States because of what they do after identifying a positive test.
TUGWELL: As of right now, we are at the point where we're sequencing every positive that we get.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Genomic sequencing complicated and expensive testing that reveals the precise genetic lineage of the virus is the only way to identify new COVID-19 variants. MAKO was one of just over 60 labs that does sequencing for the CDC's national strain surveillance network.
MOON: I would say it takes between two to three days to actually fully get the sequence from confirming a sample as positive to library prepping the DNA. And then to actually sequencing that library.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The World Health Organization and the CDC declared Omicron, a variant of concern after it was flagged by scientists in South Africa. A mutation in the Omicron variant causes a peculiar test result called an S-gene dropout.
MOON: N-gene is the blue curve and then the green curve is the S-gene.
GALLAGHER (on-camera): It would normally be up there with them?
MOON: Yes. Typically, they're all grouped pretty closely together because --
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Making a suspicious case easy to spot for expedited sequencing.
TUGWELL: Right. We have about six samples right now that have that signature S-gene dropout.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): But sequencing is required to confirm Omicron because it isn't the only variant with that type of marker. Scientists at MAKO say they've seen many different variants throughout the pandemic, some like Delta become the dominant strain, while others fade quickly or never take off. Right now, there's no way to know what type of impact Omicron could have on the U.S. But they agree that when it comes to cracking COVID, knowledge is power.
TUGWELL: That every time it transmits from a person to another person, it's another chance for the virus to mutate and change into something different. So, you know, being able to monitor it, it really highlights the importance of testing, right, because without the testing, you really have no baseline to understand what's going on.
GALLAGHER: Now, one of those so-called suspicious samples did wrap up sequencing. And it turned out it was not the Omicron variant. There were still six that are finishing up that process. Expectation is the sequencing should be completed sometime on Friday. And those results will be reported to the CDC.
But, of course, labs like this are receiving tens of thousands of new samples from COVID test every single day. And so these numbers are fluid and will likely change in the weeks to come.
Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Henderson, North Carolina.
PAUL: Dianne, thank you.
So you might look at deferment (ph) as for health advice. What about making laws in Congress? Yes, he's running as a Republican in Pennsylvania. Former Congressman Charlie Dent has something to say about it. Stay close.
SANCHEZ: The newest candidate in a crowded field for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania is a familiar face. Celebrity Surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz launching his candidacy this week, joining more than a dozen other Republican candidates. And we should point out, after the Trump back frontrunner dropped out over allegations of domestic abuse, the primary field is now wide open.
CNN Political Commentator Charlie Dent joins us now. He's a former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania. And he's now the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Congressional Program.
Good morning, Charlie. Appreciate you joining us this morning. Dr. Oz has repeatedly praised Trump during his initial interviews this week on Fox News. It seems like he's vying for the former president's endorsement. And Trump remains popular among Republicans in the Commonwealth. Do you see any path for Dr. Oz without Trump's support?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Dr. Oz has a few issues to deal with. First, let me say I might be the only guy in America who's never seen his television show.
SANCHEZ: I am either.
DENT: But --
SANCHEZ: I am either.
DENT: But a lot of people have, and so he has a lot of celebrity. Now, here's his challenge. You know, he was hauled into the Senate a few years ago because of some quack theories of therapies. He was promoting a weight loss and other things. So he's got that issue to deal with.
But his bigger challenge is his residency. He lives in Bergen County, New Jersey. He went to medical school in Pennsylvania, and his mother- in-law has property there. But he doesn't live in the state. And there are three -- there are two other candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination, Carla Sands and another one who might be, David McCormick, who's being considered. She's from -- she lives in California, and he in Connecticut, both had ties to Pennsylvania, and grew up there.
But the point I'm making is, you know, these carpetbagger issues are very serious. Now -- and I ran against the guy in 2004. The first time I ran for Congress. You know, the guy wasn't from the district. And I'll tell you what, that's the only issue I talked about in the campaign and it was what we called an 80 percent issue.
People cared about it. So Dr. Oz may get the Trump endorsement, he may not. But there going to be a lot of people in Republican primaries in places like Frackville, Pennsylvania and Bradford County, Tioga. There -- they might just raise some issues about this. You know, why should you represent us in Washington if you've never lived here?
[08:30:00] SANCHEZ: Interestingly, he has made COVID. And the government's response to COVID, a central talking point in the appearances that he's had and even in his campaign announcement. I want you to listen to what he said in his announcement video, as a matter of fact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: COVID has shown us that our system is broken. We lost too many lives, too many jobs, and too many opportunities because Washington got it wrong. They took away our freedom without making us safer, and tried to kill our spirit and our dignity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Seen from his show that like set in the background, very manicured, how do you think his campaigning on COVID is going to resonate with voters that you're familiar with in Pennsylvania?
DENT: Well, what Dr. Oz should hope for is that voters will focus on issues, whether it's COVID, or any other issue rather than his residency. So he should hope for that. You know, that said, I think it's a mistake for candidates to pander to the unvaccinated, which is what too many are doing, because they're a lot more people who are vaccinated.
So I think that's a problem. It's clear, too, that he's evolved politically. And I had read that he had been a -- he was devoted to political figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, moderate Republicans. It seems that, you know, Dr. Oz is shifting towards this Trumpian model, hoping to get that endorsement. So I would just simply say that, you know, conspiracy theories typically dunk over well, it might help them in a primary, but it may not help them very much in a general election.
At the end of the day, this race is going to be about the general election. Republicans should do well in Pennsylvania in 2022. But it's a competitive state, and you just can't afford erosion over issues like conspiracy theories or residency, you don't have that much margin for error.
SANCHEZ: And, Charlie, I'm glad you mentioned the Trumpian model because Oz has no political background, though, some of his potential future colleagues are warming up to his candidacy. I quickly want to show you this from Senator Kevin Cramer telling political, "It's great to have someone who certainly is a game changer the very first moment. Who doesn't love a guy that's got 100 percent name ID and a whole bunch of money?"
Taking a step back and looking more broadly at the state of the Republican Party, there are a lot of celebrity candidates, whether it's Herschel Walker or Tommy Tuberville, Caitlyn Jenner, what does that tell you about the state of the GOP?
DENT: Well, we've always had celebrity candidates, and frankly, candidates who could self-fund, as in the case of Dr. Oz. But what it really tells me is Dr. Oz is running in Pennsylvania, because he doesn't see a path to winning in his home state of New Jersey. Carla Sands, who was running in Pennsylvania, was Trump's ambassador to Denmark, is running in Pennsylvania, because she doesn't have a path forward in California.
And, you know, and David McCormick, who might run who was a very, you know, solid person, but he lives in Connecticut. So, obviously, no path there. So I think they're choosing the states where they think they have a path. And they think that they're, in some cases, that their celebrity, or their wealth can propel them.
So I don't think this is really new. I just think that this is the fact that they know this is going to be a good Republican year and they want to run in a state that will be competitive where they have a decent chance of success.
SANCHEZ: It sounds like you're calling this race for Pat Toomey see (ph) a race full of carpet baggers, Charlie?
DENT: Well, again, like -- I like to say this, it's not necessarily disqualifying issue. I mentioned, you know, Sands grew up in Pennsylvania. I would also say that McCormick runs and he has a strong Pennsylvania pedigree too, but he's been in Connecticut for many years. That's true.
But there's another candidate Jeff Bartos who's, you know, who's from Reading, Pennsylvania, and lives in the suburban Philadelphia, and as you know, you know, pure Pennsylvanian and that's, I'm sure I like that who's a very solid person, we'll make this an issue. As with Democrats in the event, one of these folks breaks through.
As I said, it's not necessarily a disqualifying issue, but in a race, you know, where the state will be competitive, you just can't afford any erosion. You just, you know, all candidates come to a race with assets and liabilities. And, you know, many of these candidates have assets, but that's a liability.
You know, residency is a big deal to a lot of people. And I don't think they should under, you know, underestimate how powerful that can be in the minds of many people who spent their whole lives in the state.
SANCHEZ: Former Congressman Charlie Dent, we got to leave the conversation there. Always appreciate hearing from you.
DENT: Thank you, Boris.
SANCHEZ: Of course. Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: The fate of the landmark Roe versus Wade decision on abortion rights is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices spent two hours discussing the case during this past week's hearing. PAUL: Yes, a decision is expected in late spring or early summer. But the courts conservatives appeared to be leaning toward limiting abortion rights. CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has details.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court took up its biggest abortion case in a generation. Hundreds on both sides of the emotional debate gathered outside the High Court as the justices inside hear two hours of dramatic arguments concerning a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The law is a direct challenge to abortion rights established by the landmark Roe v. Wade in 1973 and reaffirmed by Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart took aim at those precedents in his opening.
SCOTT STEWART, MS SOLICITOR GENERAL: Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey haunt our country. They have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions. They've damaged the democratic process. They poison the law.
REID (voice-over): Justice Sotomayor, a consistent supporter of abortion rights, grilled Stewart.
SONIA SOTOMAYOR, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don't see how it is possible.
REID (voice-over): While Chief Justice John Roberts appear to be looking for a middle ground to allow states to ban abortion earlier than 23 to 24 weeks, when a fetus is considered viable.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line? So a viability, it seems to me, doesn't have anything to do with choice. But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?
REID (voice-over): Justice Alito seem to want to go further.
SAMUEL ALITO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: The fetus has an interest in having a life and that doesn't change, does it? From the point before viability to the point after viability?
REID (voice-over): U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who argued the case on behalf of the federal government, warned about the dire consequences of overturning Roe.
ELIZABETH PRELOGAR, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Nearly half of the states already have or expected to enact bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, many without exceptions for rape or incest. Women who are unable to travel hundreds of miles to gain access to legal abortion will be required to continue with their pregnancies and give birth with profound effects on their bodies, their health and the course of their lives.
REID (voice-over): The courts six to three conservative majority appeared poised to uphold the Mississippi law, but it was less clear if there was a majority to end the federal right to abortion. A key vote, Justice Kavanaugh appeared skeptical that the interests of pregnant women and fetuses can both be accommodated.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: The reason this issue is hard is that you can't accommodate both interests. You have to pick. That's the fundamental problem.
REID: We don't expect an opinion in this case until June or even early July when major rulings are released. The justices also recently heard arguments on a Texas abortion law that prohibits most abortions in that state. Haven't issued an opinion on that case, either. So we may have to wait until early summer for any answers on this critical issue.
Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.
PAUL: Paula, thank you.
Joining me is Robin Marty, Operations Director at West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa. She's also the author of, "Handbook for a Post- Roe America." Ms. Marty, thank you so much for being with us.
There's one abortion clinic we need to point out in the state of Mississippi. And many people there believe that they are already in a post-Roe existence. Do you agree with that? And what does that look like?
ROBIN MARTY, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, WEST ALABAMA WOMEN'S CENTER: Very much so. I think for much of the Gulf South, so between Texas and Florida, it has been opposed to a reality for quite some time. It's difficult to get into the very few clinics that exist in this area. Most of them have 24 to 48 hour waiting periods where a patient needs to come in, see a doctor and then leave for at least 24 to 48 hours and then returned to the clinic which is difficult for people who don't live anywhere near a city that has a clinic.
We've been experiencing this for quite some time. And now for the last three months with most of the clinics in Texas closed, it's become a catastrophe down here.
PAUL: In what way? I mean, help us understand on a daily basis what you're dealing with.
MARTY: Sure. So since September, we've seen an increase, not just of Mississippi patients here in Alabama, but we're now seeing patients from Louisiana and even patients from Texas. This would have been absolutely unheard of before the Texas law went into effect. We did always see Mississippi patients simply because the state has only had one clinic for so long that often it was too full for people to get into. And they would come just across the border to us. Having patients come in from Louisiana is completely new to us. Having patients come over from Texas is a couple of 100 miles of a trip. It's long way for them to go and it's highly, highly unusual but they have already found out that clinics that are in states to the north or to the west which don't have waiting periods are having weeks and up two, three weeks wait in order to get an appointment.
For a lot of them, we are the closest place that they can come and get in an abortion before it becomes too late in a pregnancy.
PAUL: Are you preparing then overall for Roe versus Wade to be overturned? And if you are, what are you doing?
MARTY: At this point, all we can do is make sure that every patient who needs an abortion can get in to see one as quickly as possible. For us in Alabama, one thing that we have been able to do that is changed a whole lot for patients is we've been able to implement a new certified mail procedure that allows them to receive their counseling materials at home in their home state. And then that when they receive it, we'll start with their 48-hour wait, so they only need to come into the clinic for one appointment. That's been a huge change for a lot of people and is probably why we are seeing such an increase in patients.
Once Roe is overturned, the big thing that we will need to look for in Alabama -- and remember Alabama passed a law in 2019 that said that all abortion under any circumstance would be completely illegal. So if Roe v. Wade is overturned, what our clinic will need to do is look at how we can best service those who are going to try and get their own abortion somewhere else.
They are going to need a safe place where they can come and find out if they had accomplished their abortion. If they have a complication, because they're not going to be able to go to their doctors, they're not going to be able to go to their hospitals. They are going to be afraid of being arrested.
What is going to happen in a post-Roe America is that people are still going to have abortions. It's whether or not they are able to address any complications or whether they have to worry about being put in jail if they go to seek help.
PAUL: Robin Marty, we appreciate you taking time to talk to us. Thank you.
MARTY: Thank you for having me.
PAUL: Of course. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. will soon announce its diplomatic approach to the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. It comes amid calls for a boycott and concerns over human rights abuses. And after the Women's Tennis Association announced it would suspend all of its tournaments in China because of Chinese tennis star, Peng Shuai. She has been censored and has not been seen in public outside of Chinese state media since accusing a former top Chinese official of sexual assault.
Joining us now to discuss is Christine Brennan. She's a CNN Sports Analyst and a Columnist for USA Today. Good morning, Christine. How do you expect this to play out?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Well, it's certainly a big, big story and the world's biggest Me Too story. And we've seen the WTA, Boris, just handle it beautifully. A master class on humanitarian wise, wonderful leadership in the 21st century.
Steve Simon, the CEO of the WTA deserves a place on the sports Mount Rushmore. He's really been terrific, basically popping a bully in the nose. Just like, no, we're not going to listen to what China's talking about the nonsense. We don't believe you. We don't trust you. All the things we might be saying in our kitchen, he's saying it. And he has done a great job.
The International Olympic Committee trying to catch up, has done a horrible job. And I've covered the IOC for 35 years. They are royals, or they think they're royal -- royalty. They are clueless. They do not know how to handle these things.
And in two calls, they haven't given anyone satisfaction that Peng Shuai is safe. And in two statements, they've never mentioned Me Too in the very serious allegation of sexual assault that Peng Shuai has leveled against a former top Chinese officials. So, a very different view of two sports organizations and how they handle a very important issue in the 21st century.
SANCHEZ: And we'll have to wait and see how the Biden administration perhaps handles a boycott or calls for a boycott. It's not just Peng Shuai and the difficult situation she's in, it's also the treatment of Uyghurs, et cetera, et cetera. I do want to pivot --
BRENNAN: Right. Yes.
SANCHEZ: I do want to pivot quickly --
BRENNAN: I just want to say that -- yes, I would -- there will not be an athlete boycott. There's no way, Boris. But there certainly could be a diplomatic boycott, which again, could be, you know, could make a -- be a symbolic gesture. But no one wants to have the athletes lose the Olympics, the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.
SANCHEZ: Of course. I want to ask you about LeBron James, because he returned to the court last night. He cleared the NBA's health and safety protocol, putting isolation for a few days after a false positive test. He was pretty upset about it, right? What did you make of his response?
BRENNAN: It's troubling that if he's accurate in what he's saying that the NBA protocols are not entirely set or they are not entirely foolproof, it, you know, it -- are they following the rules or are they not? And we certainly listen to Lebron James. And when he says that they didn't follow the protocols, you know, we're almost two years into a pandemic and -- into the pandemic, in this global pandemic. And the NBA and the WNBA handled so beautifully last year with their bubbles.
This year, it's not easy. I also think whoever's right on this, whether it's the NBA, whether there was mistakes made or LeBron, you know, is in some way right or wrong on this issue. I think it shows just how difficult it is to play a sport internationally, nationally, whatever, in the midst of this pandemic, especially when you have some athletes vaccinated and some not.
And I think, you know, it's just not an easy time. And I think this is illustrative of how hard it can be for a league to -- even if a league that has its act together mostly to be able to grapple with all the little issues that pop up over the course of the season.
SANCHEZ: And especially difficult when you have unvaccinated athletes pretending to be vaccinated like superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers How do you think the NFL handled his situation? It seems like some disciplinary action was taken that was appropriate.
BRENNAN: Oh, yes. Absolutely appropriate. If you're an athlete, you want to win more than anything else. And what they're doing by not being vaccinated is not helping their teams win. And in fact, creating the mother of all distractions during this pandemic.
So, shame on them. They rely on doctors and health professionals for so many things, and then they don't get vaccinated, they definitely deserve the panel they got.
SANCHEZ: Christine Brennan, we got to leave the conversation there. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. And thank you for joining us as we sift through a whole lot of news, Christi.
PAUL: Oh, my goodness, I know. Smerconish is up next. But we will see you again in one hour.
SANCHEZ: Stay with us.