Providing Abortions In Uncertain Times | Crooked Media
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May 05, 2022
What A Day
Providing Abortions In Uncertain Times

In This Episode

  • Abortion providers and advocates in several states have been scrambling to figure out how to process the fall out of the Supreme Court leak, what to tell patients, and how to still help them if the procedure is restricted where they are. Susan Braselton, who manages the clinic escort program for the Roe Fund in Oklahoma, joins us to discuss how her work has been affected by anti-abortion laws both in her state and others.
  • And in headlines: Russian forces continued their assault on a steel plant in Mariupol, Amazon Labor Union’s leader Chris Smalls testified in D.C., and Karine Jean-Pierre will be the first Black woman and the first out LGBTQ+ person to be a White House press secretary.


Show Notes:



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Gideon Resnick: It is Friday, May 6th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, the only podcast that is exactly the same in every Doctor Strange multiverse.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. A little consistency is good. And for Doctor Strange, that consistency is WAD.


Tre’vell Anderson: That is exactly right. You can ask Marvel yourselves by default.


Gideon Resnick: I guess we’re part of the MCU now. I don’t know. Act accordingly. On today’s show, Ukrainians in the city of Mariupol continue to resist Russian forces. Plus, President Biden’s newest press secretary will be Karine Jean-Pierre, the first Black woman and first out LGBTQ+ person to ever be in that role.


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, let’s do a roundup on the continuing fallout from this week’s big news, the leak of a draft decision by the Supreme Court saying it would overturn Roe v Wade as early as next month. In response to the news. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that they’ll vote next Wednesday on a law to codify abortion rights into federal law.


[clip of Sen. Chuck Schumer] Next week’s vote will be one of the most important we take not only this session, but in this century. This is not an abstract exercise. It is real. It’s as urgent as it gets. Like my friend Patty Murray said, This is a five-alarm fire, and Republicans will not be able to hide from the horror they’ve unleashed on America.


Tre’vell Anderson: But, Gideon, the bill itself, of course, is not expected to go far. Please tell the people why.


Gideon Resnick: We are talking about Congress Tre’vell, that is why. Okay. So in all seriousness, it’s called the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022. It would supersede any individual state’s ban or severe restrictions on abortion so in the event that the Supreme Court does overturn Roe, as the leak of that draft decision suggests it will, then this law would preserve the right to access an abortion. But Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass it and break a filibuster, which remains because they’re unwilling to also get rid of that. In fact, the Chamber held a procedural vote on an earlier version of the bill last February that failed to pass with just 46 senators voting for it, 48 against, and six not voting at all. Now, at the same time, there is a different bill being discussed that could conceivably get the support of additional senators, including Republican Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, but it doesn’t seem like there is a plan for that yet because, again, it does not seem like it would hit the requisite votes they need.


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So now why vote on that Women’s Health Protection Act that also helps protect other people who aren’t women who might also need this type of health protection? Why are they looking to vote on it this coming Wednesday?


Gideon Resnick: I mean, I think in truth, it’s the only thing they can really do at this point. You know, it is also to put pressure on Republicans who reportedly are just avoiding this issue, instead focusing on how that draft decision got leaked in the first place. Obviously, the most important element of the story. You know, for what it’s worth, also overturning Roe has historically polled very poorly. So I don’t know if that is also playing into the thinking here. But here is Schumer again speaking last Tuesday.


[clip of Sen. Chuck Schumer] We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands.


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I kind of feel like we probably know just a little bit, you know, if the last few weeks and months tell us anything. But meanwhile, the news of the Supreme Court leak has prompted some state Republicans to draft new anti-abortion laws. Can you tell us a bit about a particularly horrifying one that started to make its way through Louisiana?


Gideon Resnick: Yes. On Wednesday, Republicans in the state house there made progress on passing a bill to classify an abortion as homicide.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes.


Gideon Resnick: It would also let prosecutors file criminal charges against patients. Abortion rights advocates were obviously quick to sound the alarm here, with a representative from the state’s ACLU saying that the proposed law would also define a fertilized egg before implantation as a person. So that would mean even people who use in vitro fertilization and various kinds of birth control could be criminalized under these circumstances. The bill, we should say, is not very far yet Tre’vell, it only passed a committee vote and now heads to the state’s full House for consideration.


Tre’vell Anderson: And it should not be considered at all, but we will address that at a later point. There are also a lot more ways that this week’s news is trickling down to the local level. Abortion providers and advocates in several states have been scrambling to figure out how to process this news, what to tell their patients, and how to still help them if the procedure is restricted where they are. So today, we welcome one advocate, Susan Braselton. She’s a board member with the Roe Fund in Oklahoma, an organization that provides financial assistance to those seeking abortions in the state. She also manages the fund’s clinic escort program, where volunteers accompany patients to abortion clinics, often walking people from their cars to the doors while protecting and shielding them from anti-abortion protesters outside the building. And ever since Texas passed its own restrictive anti-abortion bill, SB8, she’s seen a dramatic uptick in the number of patients coming from that state that her volunteers help. Susan, welcome to What a Day.


Susan Braselton: Thank you for having me. There are some people that are forward-thinking in Oklahoma and people of the world need to know that there are some of us that are fighting for this.


Tre’vell Anderson: So a lot of the discourse in this last week at least, has been around the leaked opinion from the Supreme Court. I’d love to know from you, what was your initial reaction to the leaked draft opinion?


Susan Braselton: It’s appalling that one of our justices has that kind of a vision of women, that he does not have the empathy or the compassion for women that need this kind of freedom of their body. I mean, imagine a rape victim who their freedom of their body has been taken away once, and now you’re telling me the government is going to take it away again? I can’t even understand it.


Gideon Resnick: And what have you been hearing from patients in the days following the leak about all of this?


Susan Braselton: Once the SB8 went into effect, we had a jump, and we went, used to be about 20 patients a day to 40 to 60 patients a day and a lot of those were Texas plate. There are so many patients that are so amazed that we have these, mostly white men, standing on the curb, yelling at patients, bringing their wives, their supplicant wives and their children with them to protest outside of an abortion place. They’re like, Why don’t these people do some good? Why is it standing out on a street corner what they spend their lives doing? And so even the patients that are going through this are really appalled at the people out on the curb.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And you’re talking about sort of the scene there. Has that gotten more intense or has the job gotten harder as a lot of these bills you’re talking about have been passed across the country.


Susan Braselton: Ever since Trump got elected, it’s gotten more intense and more intense and more intense. I mean, we had a guy the other day, the woman was in tears and he yells at her probably 30, 40 feet from the easement to the front of the clinic, he says: you’re just a murderer! And this woman’s in tears already. She didn’t want to do it. And he’s yelling these awful things at her to try and make her feel even worse. I mean, they bring up my dead husband and say that God took him early because God wants to send me a message. It’s cruel.


Tre’vell Anderson: Oklahoma has passed its own couple anti-abortion bills in recent weeks. One of them is similar to Texas’s SB8 and bans abortions after six weeks, another makes performing the procedure a felony. And we know that prior to the passage of those, Texans were coming to Oklahoma for abortions because of their state laws. Can you talk a little bit more about kind of the cascading effect that these state by state laws can have?


Susan Braselton: It’s going to make it harder and harder and harder for poor women to access that kind of services, because rich women are going to be able to go to different states. California has codified it. Colorado has. It’s going to be a problem for those that don’t have the money to take off from work, to get childcare, to afford gas to drive 10 hours. You know, I mean, we had one of our patients a couple of weeks ago had gotten off her shift at one in the morning, got in her car, drove to Oklahoma from Dallas, a five-hour drive to be there in time for her 8 a.m. appointment and then the process was it goes from like 8 to 2:00 in the afternoon. And then she got in the car and drove back to Texas. And she’s doing this and still didn’t have all of the money to be able to afford that abortion in Oklahoma. We have people that are out on the curb in the parking lot pooling our money to make up the difference from what these women don’t have. We’ve had representatives, our clinic escorts drive women home. They’ve taken a taxi in from some small town, Oklahoma. We have taken families to and purchased day rooms at hotels, so the families don’t have to sit in the parking lot at the abortion clinic. So we have different people doing different things that are trying to make it easier for the patient because it’s not just the patient that’s affected, but they’re affected the most. But then if they don’t have anybody to drive them or if they don’t have a car, they don’t have money for gas, I mean, you know, a lot of them will have like a flat tire on the way to the clinic or, you know, there’s all kinds of hoops that they have to jump through, not only because the legislature made it that way, but also because poverty and not having the means to do these things because they’re stuck in this poverty-and having another child is not going to get them out of that poverty either.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So given this very real possibility, right, that Roe is going to be overturned we like to ask folks who are engaged in the type of work that you are, like, where do you find a hope as all of this stuff is going on? What keeps you going, doing the work that you’re doing?


Susan Braselton: I know what I’m doing is right. I know that I get stopped on the street corner and saying, I remember you from Tulsa Women’s Clinic, and I remember that you smiled at me when I pulled into the parking lot and you were doing a little dance and that made everything okay. I mean, my daughter gets upset because we’re out at the mall or whatever people will stop me and say, I really appreciated what you did. I will go into the clinic at the end of my shift and I will say to the patients that are still sitting in the waiting room, I’ll say, You don’t have to stop for the people that are on the curb. And by that time, they know that because they’ve been in. But I also say, You know, everybody, you all have a great day. Some people need the reinforcement that the decision they’re making is right for them. If they’re really upset, I’ll tell them. I say they don’t have anything to offer you, the guys that are screaming from the curb. You are making the right decision for your life, and just remember that. And so I know that I mean something to those people. And I might not remember all of them, but they all remember me.


Gideon Resnick: Susan Braselton is a board member of the Roe Fund in Oklahoma. Susan, thank you so much for your generous time. We really appreciate it.


Susan Braselton: Thank you. I’m glad I could help. We’ve got to be hopeful. There’s a lot of people out here fighting this fight and we’re going to continue to fight the fight. So thank you very much for adding to that.


Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you.


Gideon Resnick: Thank you.


Susan Braselton: I appreciate it.


Tre’vell Anderson: We’ll have links to her organization and her work in our show notes so you can support them directly. In the meantime, we’ve been asking listeners to share their own stories about how Roe has helped them and what it would mean if it were overturned. We’ve had over 100 responses so far and they truly illustrate why abortion access is so important, and how these bills and the potential Supreme Court ruling are already impacting people. One person wrote to us, “I just accepted a job in Georgia, but I am considering turning down the offer to ensure my health care.”


Gideon Resnick: Greatest country in the world.


Tre’vell Anderson: The best one they told us. Okay? And then another person shared with us this story about their pregnancy, “At my 12 week appointment, the tech grew somber and got the doctor — worst feeling I’ve ever had. They couldn’t find a heartbeat and I was broken. I was given the option to wait for my body to eventually expel it or have a DNC, which is a type of abortion procedure. I chose the DNC for my mental health. It was the hand-down worst moments and days of my life. If I lived in any of the states who will ban abortion, I wouldn’t have been given the choice. My heart hurts for the trauma women will be forced to endure.


Gideon Resnick: Yet trauma is a good word for that story and for what we’re talking about here, in general. So I think it’s very important to hear that. So thank everybody for sharing your stories. We do want to keep hearing from you. You can DM us on Instagram. We have been reading every single one. So thank you so much again for all of that forthrightness and bravery in there. And in our show notes, we’ll have links to organizations that you can help support as they work to keep abortion accessible. More on all of this very soon, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: In Ukraine, Russian forces continued their nonstop assault on a steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol. Several thousand Ukrainian fighters, as well as hundreds of civilians, have taken refuge in the complex as a last stand against the invaders. Russia is reportedly using tens of thousands of soldiers there in order to take the city by Monday, May 9th. That is Victory Day, a symbolic holiday for Russia because it marked the Nazis defeat in World War II. But hitting that due date might be easier said than done. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, who is a staunch ally of Putin, said he didn’t expect the ten-week invasion to, quote, “drag on this way.” Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the US may have been lending a hand to the resistance as well. A story published yesterday said that the US has been sharing intel with Ukraine so that Ukrainians can target and kill Russian generals. About a dozen generals have died so far, a number which the Times says has, quote, “astonished military analysts.” But when Pentagon officials were asked about it, they didn’t confirm or deny that Intel had been shared — I feel like that’s the response to everything.


Tre’vell Anderson: They’re just doing their job, Gideon. Amazon Labor Union’s leader Chris Smalls testified in DC yesterday, leading to what was almost definitely the first appearance of a jacket reading “Eat the Rich” on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Smalls spoke about Amazon’s treatment of workers in a hearing called by Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders as part of his push to end federal contracts with companies who have been accused of unfair labor practices. Here’s part of what Small said to Senator Lindsey Graham.


[clip of Chris Smalls] You forgot that the people are the ones who make these companies operate, and if we’re not protected and the process for when we hold these companies accountable is not working for us, then nd that’s the reason why we’re here today. That’s the reason why I’m here to represent the workers who make these companies go.


Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to the workers. As we’ve mentioned on the show before, Smalls helped to successfully organize the first U.S. union in Amazon company history on Staten Island. The recent vote at a second facility did not go in the union’s favor. Later on, Smalls and a number of other labor organizers met with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, which we can take as an implicit promise that they’ll send coffee and donuts to you if your workplace decides to strike. According to The New York Times, Smalls asked Biden to press Amazon to recognize the union and begin the process of collective bargaining.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, to be clear, the “Eat the Rich” jacket is real. I wish that we could show it to you, but I encourage people to look it up. And Chris, if you are listening, I asked if you would tell us if the president commented on your outfit. We will take answers at any point over the next few days to weeks, I must know. We now know who will accept the highest profile job that involves being tormented by Steve Doocy: Karine Jean-Pierre was selected as President Biden’s next press secretary yesterday, setting her up to be the first Black woman and the first out LGBTQ+ person to hold that position. Jean-Pierre currently serves as the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, but she’s going to take over for current Press Secretary Jen Psaki next week. Psaki said of her successor yesterday, quote, “She is passionate, she is smart, and she has a moral core that makes her not just a great colleague, but an amazing mom and human.” Jean-Pierre has been a part of Biden’s administration since the start, and before that served as the chief of staff on Vice President Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign and also worked in the Obama White House and on his presidential campaigns as well. Here she is, speaking about her appointment yesterday and its significance:


[clip of Karine Jean-Pierre] I am still processing it because as Jen said at the top, this is a historic moment and it’s not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities that I stand on their shoulders, and I have been throughout my career. And so it is an honor and a privilege to be behind this podium.


Tre’vell Anderson: Giving us an answer to the question, What if the newspaper was spiteful? Facebook responded to threats to its information dominance by taking away all the information in Australia. That’s according to a new whistleblower report in the Wall Street Journal. The report says that in early 2021, when Australia was set to approve a law forcing platforms like Facebook to pay for news content, the site purposefully pulled down important pages that were not news content, including ones that belonged to hospitals, emergency services, charities, and even the Australian National Government. This was reportedly part of a hardball negotiating tactic which we can call the “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone” strategy, all right? When it succeeded and Australia settled on a watered down version of the law, the scheme was celebrated internally with Facebook’s head of partnerships writing in an email, quote, “We landed exactly where we wanted to, and that was only possible because this team was genius enough to pull it off in zero time.”


Gideon Resnick: Why would you write that?


Tre’vell Anderson: Why would you ever? Facebook chiefs Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg apparently sent kind words, too. Meanwhile, everyday Australians had seen an important site connecting them to information and services become nonfunctional overnight. Hopefully, at the very least, they were still able to log on and be confronted by, quote, “Facebook memories” in the form of photos from nine years ago that they hope to never see again.


Gideon Resnick: Oy.


Tre’vell Anderson: In response to The Wall Street Journal’s report, a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Facebook, described the restriction of Australian government pages as the result of a technical error that was quickly fixed.


Gideon Resnick: To definitely quickly fixed. Definitely no conversation about what had happened either. I feel like if you’re running a company and there had been multiple whistleblower reports in the last year and change or so, it doesn’t speak so highly to what you’re doing.


Tre’vell Anderson: But aren’t these like tech people, aren’t you, like supposed to go on like Signal or, you know, one of the other encrypted apps, right? Like what’s happening here?


Gideon Resnick: Use ProtonMail, you know, go talk in person. I don’t understand it. There’s always tons and tons of records of people being like, Yeah, we did the thing. Anyway. That’s truly crazy. Those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with our expert analysis of this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we are discussing what many 50-something men who have a room in their house called a den consider to be the world’s highest honor: induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Earlier this week, the 2022 class was announced. Here are the seven acts that will make it in: Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie, Carly Simon, and controversially, Dolly Parton, who you may remember initially opposed her own nomination on the grounds that she felt she was not rock and roll enough. Mrs. Parton, I hope that this isn’t rude, that I am not speaking out of turn, but you may have no idea how rock and roll you truly are. Some of the bands that were nominated this year but not inducted include Dionne Warwick, a Tribe Called Quest, and Rage Against the Machine. They’ll have plenty more chances to make their way into the hall. So, Tre’vell, how are you reacting to this year’s honorees?


Tre’vell Anderson: I really just love the fact that Dolly Parton doesn’t think she’s rock and roll enough when we are all looking on like, Hey, girl, you helped pay for COVID vaccine research. That feels bad ass to me. I don’t know.


Gideon Resnick: Right. Meanwhile, like Eminem presumably is just like, Yeah, okay, cool, thank you. You know, like, there’s  no other commentary. I will say there’s, I love the reading of the names always because you always get like three in and you’re like, make sense, make sense, makes sense, then you’re like, Eminem!? Like, it’s like a real like, Oh! Okay.


Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to Lionel Richie, though. He deserves icon status, you know?


Gideon Resnick: That’s fun. I like that a lot. Yeah. The Dolly thing is fun. Have you ever had even a nomination for an award that you said, you know, from the jump, Hey, this is great, but it’s not for me.


Tre’vell Anderson: I have not. I have main character syndrome. I want all of the awards. I deserve it. I work very hard, give me my things. But I do understand if you feel like you don’t qualify. I understand being like, You know what? No, thank you. Give it to, you know, somebody else who does qualify.


Gideon Resnick: Okay.


Tre’vell Anderson: And you, what about you?


Gideon Resnick: No, I’ve never been offered an award nor been in contention for it. I would accept it as well. What we’ve learned from this is that Tre’vell deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, either way.


Tre’vell Anderson: Period. Yes.


Gideon Resnick: Me, you know, we’ll discuss at a later date.


Tre’vell Anderson: You can present the award to me, Gideon.


Gideon Resnick: I can present the award. Solved. That’s, that’s how it’s going to work. I actually think that fits perfectly. Just like that, we have checked our attempts. They are rocking and rolling.


Tre’vell Anderson: Period.


Gideon Resnick: Because we’re in the Hall of Fame and that’s it. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, write “Eat the Rich” on your own jacket, and tell your friends to listen.


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading, and not just unblocked status updates from Australian hospitals like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Gideon Resnick: I am Gideon Resnick.


[together] And thanks for tuning in, Doctor Strange!


Gideon Resnick: Yes, as you fight across many universes and times or whatever. You’re busy. You’ve got a lot going on.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Well, I’m just glad that we are able to provide you the news every single morning. Like, that’s the least we can do to contribute to you saving the world. Thank you so much.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Thank you. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.