In This Episode
- Ukraine rejected Russia’s demand that soldiers surrender the city of Mariupol, on Monday, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying in part, “Ukraine cannot fulfill ultimatums.” And in Kyiv, a Russian missile struck a mall, killing at least 8 people according to officials.
- Republican-led state legislatures have passed an overwhelming amount of anti-abortion legislation in recent months, particularly after SB8 went into effect in Texas. Rosann Mariappuram, executive director at Jane’s Due Process in Texas, joins us to discuss what the fight for abortion rights looks like in the state.
- And in headlines: a passenger jet crashed in China, the U.S. declared that Myanmar’s military committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims, and Hong Kong plans to relax some of its COVID restrictions.
- AP: “As Mariupol hangs on, the extent of the horror not yet known” – https://bit.ly/3ttgyFx
- Wall Street Journal: “Russia Relies Increasingly on Missiles, Artillery to Pressure Ukraine” – https://on.wsj.com/3qpvCSO
- Jane’s Due Process – https://janesdueprocess.org/
- Where To Get An Abortion In Texas – www.needabortion.org
- Nationwide List of Verified Abortion Clinics – https://www.ineedana.com/
- National Network of Abortion Funds – https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion/
- Keep Independent Abortion Clinics Open – https://keepourclinics.org/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, March 22nd. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day where we’re all working out the logistical nightmare that is sharing our one Netflix account.
Gideon Resnick: If I ever start a freedom convoy, it’s going to be because I got a message that said I had to upgrade Netflix because I’m sharing it with too many people. I’m just saying it right now. On today’s show, what the fight for abortion rights looks like in Texas. Plus, a passenger jet crashed in China.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, a few updates on Ukraine as we go to record around 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday. So there’s been a quite a lot of focus on Mariupol, a southern port city, which has been a real outsized target of Russian attacks. Gideon, what more do we know about what’s happening there?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, the reporting that is still coming out of the city is really shocking and it is basically every day. This is the site of recent Russian missile strikes that hit civilian targets, including a theater where people were sheltering. And it’s also a city where water is reportedly still scarce and electricity and heat are nonexistent. One person who made it out of Mariupol told the AP quote, “There are no buildings there anymore.” We can link to that story in our show notes. And on Monday, Ukraine rejected a demand from Russia that soldiers surrender the city, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying in part quote, “Ukraine cannot fulfill ultimatums.”
Josie Duffy Rice: Devastating. The pictures from the city are just heartbreaking.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: Can you tell us recent news from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So that’s another place where there are updates. Yesterday, a Russian missile struck a mall in Kiev, killing at least eight people, according to officials. Russia had alleged that it had been used as an arms depot of sorts. That’s what they tend to say after these things happen. And here’s a little bit from a dispatch from The New York Times in the city that gets at the strike, quote, “It was so powerful that it blew debris hundreds of yards in every direction, shook buildings and flattened one part of the mall. It turned the parking lot into a sea of flames.”
Josie Duffy Rice: Gosh, oh man. There’s some reporting that the increased barrage of strikes that hit civilians and civilian infrastructure represent kind of a change in Russia’s strategy here. So what have officials been saying about that?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So from this report in The Wall Street Journal that we can link to, the more intense bombing campaign, some are saying, is meant to pressure Ukraine as the actual ground offensive has in part stalled out in different parts of the country. The bombings are, of course, also leading to more condemnations from President Biden, who spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Britain on Monday, before a later meeting with NATO leaders in Europe tomorrow. Russia’s foreign minister said that relations between his country and the U.S. were quote, “on the verge of a rupture” after comments that Biden made about Russian President Vladimir Putin being a quote, “war criminal.” The White House also warned businesses on Monday to strengthen cybersecurity in the event of Russian cyber attacks, and the Biden administration confirmed Russia’s previously uncorroborated claim, that we mentioned on the show yesterday, that Russia had used a hypersonic missile, which is almost undetectable to current air defense systems and goes five times the speed of sound—just crazy. That would mark the first use of this kind of weapon in combat. So that is where things stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the moment. And of course, we will continue to bring you more tomorrow.
Josie Duffy Rice: Gideon, I got to say I’m not super thrilled to hear about these missiles that go five times the speed of sound.
Gideon Resnick: Nope.
Josie Duffy Rice: So moving to some domestic issues, as we mentioned on yesterday’s show, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson began yesterday with opening statements. If confirmed, Judge Jackson will join a court that is set to hear several high-profile cases in the coming months. One of the issues that is devastatingly up for debate is the constitutional right to an abortion, and it’s very possible, given the conservative supermajority, that it may overturn or significantly weakened Roe v. Wade.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s awful to hear every time. And before that issue goes before the High Court, we should keep an eye on how this legal debate is already playing out on the local level. So what has that actually looked like?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so Republican-led state legislatures have passed an overwhelming amount of anti-abortion legislation in recent months, particularly after SB8 went into effect in Texas. And that’s in addition to the years of them passing anti-abortion legislation in hopes that one day Roe v. Wade would be overturned and they could put it into effect, right? So SB8 is the state’s abortion ban that prohibits abortions after six weeks, and a very key provision allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Texas resident get an abortion. It’s really an outrageous piece of legislation. Abortion rights advocates have been fighting SB8 in the courts over the past several months that I talked with one of them yesterday, Rosann Mariappuram. She is the executive director at Jane’s Due Process in Texas, an abortion fund that focuses on getting minors the abortion care that they need. I wanted to know more about what things look like on the ground and what comes next as they face some very, very tough headwinds. So I started out by asking her reaction to a huge blow that happened last week: the Texas Supreme Court ruled against abortion providers in the state, saying that state officials don’t have the ability to enforce SB8 and therefore cannot be sued.
Rosann Mariappuram: So I think my immediate reaction was concern for pregnant people who have been trying to get abortion care in a state that basically has banned it for the last six months. It has been impossible for many people to even access the care, so we’re an example of what it’s like to live in a state without abortion care for so many. And then on the flip side, my heart went to the clinics and the abortion providers and abortion funds, which is this network of people who are trying to help folks still get abortion care and yet time and time again have been denied our rights, our human rights by the court system.
Josie Duffy Rice: Can you talk to us about your view on the ground, so as someone who’s actually there, how is the ruling really impacted your work in your community—and not just this recent ruling, but the past six months, right?
Rosann Mariappuram: We work with teenagers because in Texas, if you’re under 18, you have to get your parent or guardian’s permission to get an abortion right. And while the vast majority of youth can involve a parent safely, for our clients, a lot of them are at risk of getting kicked out of the house if they’re pregnant or are in the custody of the state, in foster care or in immigration detention—they’re just in these really marginalized situations where they don’t have the help they need. So those are the clients that immediately were cut off from access, and we saw our hotline, which normally gets dozens of texts every week from teens, you know, dozens of calls, went silent for a full week.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh gosh.
Gideon Resnick: And think that we were just so worried for youth because we knew how scared they were. And so we immediately started thinking, how can we help assure them that we’re still there for them and also that we will do everything we can to help them, even in this impossible circumstance.
Josie Duffy Rice: Several other Republican led state legislatures have put forth anti-abortion legislation, I mean, really for decades, right, just sort of waiting for a moment like this. But recently, a lot of it has been modeled after SB8, and in some cases, they’ve taken it a step further. So, for example, the Missouri House of Representatives introduced a bill earlier this month that would allow private citizens not only to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident across state lines to get an abortion, but also outlawing the ability to leave the state to get an abortion. What are your thoughts on that strategy gaining traction, especially in light of the Texas Supreme Court ruling? And when you look months, a few years in the future, how are you expecting that to affect the approach people take to trying to cut off the rights of those trying to get an abortion?
Rosann Mariappuram: Unprecedented is a word I use so much now. Sometimes it’s lost on meaning. But the idea that you could control someone’s freedom of movement, which flies in the face of foundational rights on a human rights level and in the Constitution, I think that piece is what I immediately think about is just, you have no ability to stop someone from crossing a state line to seek health care. You know, even though the Supreme Court has really failed us when it comes to abortion access, if they undermine the right to travel, I don’t know how they would claim any form of legitimacy anymore as a court—
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Rosann Mariappuram: —as a federal court in particular, that’s supposed to protect these federal rights, including moving between states. You know, we talk about that a lot at Jane’s Due Process, is the expectation is people can travel, right? If your state bans abortion, they say, Oh, just go somewhere else. But from an access place, who can travel>? You know, people with money. And, you know, because of systemic racism, disproportionately in communities of color don’t have those resources, so we serve, I think, 80% of our clients seeking abortion care identify as youth of color. So for us, we see that like this is going to hurt youth of color. It’s going to hurt communities of color. I think you have to see it as a racial and economic justice issue when you think about what abortion access is looking like in states that ban abortion and then try to criminalize travel as well.
Josie Duffy Rice: So much of the reporting on this last ruling says that this was like the last legal avenue that abortion rights activists had to challenge this particular law. But then an article in The Washington Post has pointed to a potential new legal strategy to counteract the law. Some Texas abortion funds are suing antiabortion legal groups that are threatening them with litigation, and they’re arguing that these anti-abortion groups are identifying themselves as the enforcers of SB8 and so as a result can be the target of new legal challenges. That’s kind of convoluted as a, but that’s the nature of this stuff, right? What are your thoughts on that as a strategy?
Rosann Mariappuram: I mean, I have a lot of admiration for our fellow abortion funds that filed those suits and are now getting harassed as a result. But I think that shows the tenacity of people on the ground here who are going to think creatively to protect pregnant people seeking abortion, no matter what. Listening to like the oral arguments in the federal courts and state courts, they just keep throwing up their hands, the judges keep saying, This is so novel, this is a fight over our ability to control. Well, true advocacy requires us to push back and say, OK, if this is such a novel legal concept, there’s no one to prosecute, what about in this instance where you have groups coming forward that say they want to sue us? So I admire it, and I think it’s what we need. I’ve talked to mentors and to people who worked in abortion care when it wasn’t legal, and I think what I admire is that, yes, there’s the law, but then there’s also the morally right, and just thing to do. And like abortion is a moral good. It allows people to live lives that they want to live, and our work will always be centered on the people themselves, not on the politics or over-politicization of this issue. So we’re still doing our jobs and helping people get abortion care. We are also adhering to the law. It is a narrow space in which to live, but it’s the only thing you can do if you truly believe abortion is health care and is something that people deserve.
Josie Duffy Rice: It seems likely that SCOTUS is going to drastically restrict the ability for people to have abortions in the coming months. And so moving forward, how does support for those seeking abortions look?
Rosann Mariappuram: I think one huge piece which we kind of started to name is the amount of stigma there is around abortion. Like why do some groups get marginalized and you know, no one stands up for them, is because we have socially accepted the stigma, so that people who have abortions are afraid to talk about the fact that they had abortion care. It’s not something that we support as a pregnancy outcome. It’s this quiet, shamed, stigmatized thing. So I think that’s the fight, is to destigmatize abortion care, to make it a part of our lives and our reproductive health in a way where you can’t just silo it—which has been very effectively done by passing state laws, always under the guise of safety or under the guise of, you know, protecting the pregnant person because they need to have a waiting period because they don’t know what they’re making this decision about, or delaying care or requiring ultrasounds because they don’t really understand the medical decision. It’s just so rooted in misogyny and so rooted in thinking that people who get pregnant, especially women, can’t make decisions about their own lives. And so I think we have to push on the stigma piece and also push and reveal that, like anti-abortion advocates are also like people who hate women and people who hate pregnant people and people who hate queer folks and communities of color. They’ve been avoiding that conversation. And when you can push on stigma, I think then you can push on the political realities in a state like Texas, which is huge and diverse and like the majority of Texans do support abortion but do they call themselves abortion advocates? Do most people feel comfortable saying they support abortion? We’re not there yet, and we need to get there, so I think that’s the real area to go towards.
Josie Duffy Rice: Is there anything that our listeners can do to support abortion rights activists in Texas right now?
Rosann Mariappuram: Be forward about your opinion on abortion care and do it with the communities that matter to you. So talk about it with your family. Talk about it with your friends. Be public about supporting abortion. And if you’re scared, just know that there’s a majority of people in our country who agree with you. We just have to start talking about it. The other big push, I would say, is support abortion funds groups like Jane’s Due Process. We’re here in states that are banning abortion, but we’re still helping people get the care they need. Abortion funds to everything from actually like paying for abortion care to practical support, which means flying folks to other states, paying for transportation and paying for child care. So your state definitely has one. You can also support funds here in Texas. The National Network of Abortion Funds is a great place to start.
Josie Duffy Rice: And Gideon, that’s my interview with Rosann Mariappuram of Jane’s Due Process in Texas. We’ll have links to the resources she mentioned in our show notes. That is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: A China Eastern Airlines plane crashed yesterday in a remote mountainous region in southern China. 132 people were on board the Boeing 737, and tragically, there do not seem to be any survivors. The plane took off from the southwestern city of Kunming and was en route to Guangzhao. Everything seemed to be normal for the first 50 minutes or so, but then there appeared to be a rapid descent. The flight briefly recovered, but then the jetliner lost contact over the city of Wuzhou. The impact of the crash sparked a fire in the mountains, and according to NASA’s satellite images, the flames were so big they could be seen from space—wow! China Eastern Airlines released a statement saying quote, “the cause of the plane crash is still under investigation. The company expresses its sorrow for condolences to the passengers and crew members who died in this plane crash.” Rescue efforts are underway, but there are no details on the number of casualties or the cause of the crash.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, devastating. The Biden administration declared yesterday that Myanmar’s military committed genocide against the country’s population of Rohingya Muslims. Starting in 2017, the military began a killing spree of this ethnic minority, which left 6,000 dead in the first month alone.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: Nearly one million more fled the country in the five years since as well. The Rohingya blamed some of the violence on Facebook, saying that the site amplified hate speech against them, and last December they filed an $150 billion lawsuit against Meta. A new report by the rights group Global Witness backs them up. It says that the social media giant neither detected nor stopped hate speech on its site against the Rohingya. The U.S. decision to describe what Myanmar’s military did as genocide came after several reviews by the State Department of its atrocities. Its formal designation could lead to sanctions against the military, limits on aid, and more.
Gideon Resnick: When there are horrific things in the world, it’s like you can almost count on Facebook not having done the right thing. There’s always a clause or something like, They didn’t actually do the right thing here.
Josie Duffy Rice: They could have maybe done something and they chose not to do that. So that’s cool.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Turning now to the latest COVID news: Hong Kong plans to relax some of its restrictions after experts said the worst of its Omicron-driven wave is behind the city. Yesterday, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, announced the region will lift its ban on flights from nine different countries starting April 1st, and vaccinated residents will only have to quarantine for seven days if they come from overseas. This marks a huge turning point for Hong Kong because it has been pretty isolated from the rest of the world for most of the pandemic and required travelers to quarantine for as long as three weeks in a hotel. Meanwhile, the Omicron sub variant BA-2, the sequel no one wanted, is causing a surge in parts of Europe. As a result, Austria will bring back its indoor mask mandate beginning tomorrow. And last Friday, the government there said it plans to revise its isolation rules for infected people. Lastly, in some vaccine news: in the US, the FDA announced that an advisory committee will meet on April 6 to discuss the future of boosters—including, I hope, whether we’ll need to take them every few months or just on a continuous IV drip. Truthfully, though, the committee will debate issues like when to give them out, as well as when the shots should be updated to target specific variants. If there is an IV drip, I suppose we will also have to share that, is our contractual podcast obligation—that’s a callback to the intro for all you folks driving and tuning out.
Josie Duffy Rice: Professional fued-having Pusha T has lent his diss-writing talents to—are you ready for it?
Gideon Resnick: No.
Josie Duffy Rice: —Arby’s, in a commercial promoting the company’s new fried fish sandwich by putting down the McDonald’s version of the same item. Here’s a clip:
[singing] Filet-O-Fishes, then you should be disgusted. How dare you sell us a square fish asking us to trust it? A half slice of cheese—mickey D’s on a budget? Arby’s crispy fish is simply it, with lines from the corner, we might need a guest list.
Gideon Resnick: OK, I was, I was extremely skeptical, but he sounds so cool—
Josie Duffy Rice: He does, he does.
Gideon Resnick: —that I feel like it’s kind of working.
Josie Duffy Rice: He kind of killed it. He really did. I got to say.
Gideon Resnick: But I’m angry. I’m angry at the same time. I confused Josie, I don’t like it.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m thrilled. I’m the opposite of angry. I’m happy. You know, of course, when most of us think Arby’s, our first thought is not great seafood. So the company was always facing an uphill battle here.
Gideon Resnick: True.
Josie Duffy Rice: At the same time, the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish doesn’t seem like the type of dominant force in our culture that would normally call for a diss-track, but maybe more of a pep talk. Honestly, the real surprise here is that anyone is jostling to be in the drive-thru fish sandwich space at all. The Arby’s ad campaign is enriched by an understanding of Pusha T’s long and troubled history with McDonald’s, particularly his claim that he’s quote, “solely responsible for the “I’m Loving it” swag and the jingle of that company. The “I’m Loving It: jingle is more often credited to the German music house called Mona Davis, and to Justin Timberlake, who was paid six million for it in 2003. Pusha T rapped over the jingle in one commercial, but his other contributions and how much money he took home are murkier. It’s TBD whether the Pusha T Arby’s collab squashes his McDonald’s beef or reignites it, but either way, that beef will come from 1,000 different cows.
Gideon Resnick: You know, Drake is going to have to come out against Arby’s in order to keep up appearances here, and unfortunately, I think given what we’ve heard, I think that that’s not an unlikely scenario.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Honestly, the only way this story gets better is if Drake gets involved.
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Josie Duffy Rice: We need Canada to jump in here.
Gideon Resnick: Exactly. Mitigate a little bit. This is our future, though, is artists that we like hocking various sandwiches that make our tummies hurt, and that’s what we are looking forward to as a species on this planet.
Josie Duffy Rice: Truly, the best news we have today is that so, uh you know.
Gideon Resnick: Really, it really is. As those are the headlines. One more thing before we go: Stuck with Damon Young is the newest podcast from Crooked and Gimlet. On this show, award-winning author Damon Young explores the uncomfortable, hideous, and hilarious absurdity of being Black in America.
Josie Duffy Rice: He’s joined by some of the brightest minds and boldest voices of the Black community, including Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sam Irby, Jason Reynolds, and more— really high-quality guests here. You’re going to love this show. Listen and follow Stuck with Damon Young only on Spotify.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, me sure you subscribe, leave a review, change your vaccine booster IV bag, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just oral histories of fast food sounds like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon, Resnick.
[together] And messages. If you want to share our Netflix account!
Gideon Resnick: Don’t you dare, because if I have to pay for it, I’m going to be unhappy. So don’t.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just know that if you try to share a Netflix account, I have two children that only watch Cocomelon, so they will mess up your algorithm.
Gideon Resnick: Exactly. Joke’s on you, dear listener.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s what you get for being cheap.
Gideon Resnick: I happen to love the show, so it’s not a problem for me. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi 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.