In This Episode
- Roe v. Wade was issued just over 49 years ago, and in the months ahead, we’re faced with the very real possibility that the Supreme Court could effectively overturn it. Plus, conservative lawmakers in at least 29 states have been racing to pass new anti-abortion restrictions. We’re joined by Destiny Lopez, co-president of All* Above All, to discuss what abortion justice organizers are doing to defend the right to choose and how we can support them.
- The Pentagon announced that 3,000 additional U.S. troops will be deployed to Eastern Europe to support NATO nations amid concerns of a possible Russian invasion into Ukraine.
- And in headlines: And in headlines: Tonga went into lockdown after reporting five cases of the coronavirus, Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams, and CNN President Jeff Zucker stepped down.
- All* Above All – https://allaboveall.org/
- National Network of Abortion Funds – https://abortionfunds.org/
- Keep Our Clinics – https://keepourclinics.org/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday
Gideon Resnick: It is Thursday, February 3rd. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where the only nominees we want to see in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. They made this theme song, and it’s about time their names are hung up among the greats.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, the order: Janis Joplin, Jay Z, the creators of the What A Day theme song. That’s just how it is.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the island nation of Tonga goes into lockdown after aid workers bring in COVID. Plus, CNN President Jeff Zucker steps down after failing to disclose a consensual relationship with a fellow executive.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we have an update on Ukraine.
[clip of John F. Kirby] The United States will soon move additional forces to Romania, Poland, and Germany. I want to be very clear about something—these are not permanent moves. They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies.
Priyanka Aribindi: That was John F. Kirby, the spokesperson for the Pentagon, talking about the deployment of 3,000 additional U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. A thousand of those troops are already stationed in Germany but will move to Romania. And as he mentioned there, the stated intent is not to send troops into Ukraine, but rather to protect NATO allies in the region. Also on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House is no longer going to use the word “imminent” to describe any potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. As we had mentioned before. Ukrainian officials, including President Zelensky, had disagreed with this characterization, and even said that it could lead to panic.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and the Pentagon also confirmed the veracity of leaked documents outlining some of the diplomatic back and forth between the U.S., NATO, and Russia. According to reporting from the New York Times, the documents confirmed and added details to the issues that were kind of broadly known, namely Russia’s demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO and that the West scales back military presence in Eastern Europe. In those same documents, the Biden administration proposes a quote unquote, “transparency mechanism” that would allow both the U.S. and Russia to respectively verify the absence of certain missiles that Russia says they are concerned about being fired into the country. NATO and the U.S. have said in response to Putin’s concerns that those missiles are only defensive. The Times story goes on to say that Ukraine’s foreign minister backed another U.S. proposal that it would not have ground troops permanently based in Ukraine. All of that is happening as a number of European leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Emmanuel Macron, have been talking directly to Putin, or planning to. So there will almost certainly be more developments on all of this pretty soon.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We will stay on that in the coming days. But now we’re going to highlight an important conversation that we had yesterday. January 22nd marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, ahead of a potential ruling from the Supreme Court in the months ahead that could effectively overturn it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and conservative lawmakers across the country have really been racing to pass new anti-abortion restrictions in anticipation of the new ruling. According to The Washington Post, legislators in at least 29 states have filed those kinds of bills during this legislative session. Meanwhile, there are already signs that money is just pouring in the direction of anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List. But countering those legislative efforts from conservatives, there have been at least 17 states where bills have been filed to protect abortion access, according to Planned Parenthood.
Priyanka Aribindi: With all of us impending, we wanted to learn more about what organizers are doing on the ground and how we can support them, so we have with us today. Destiny Lopez. She is the co-president of All Above All, a reproductive rights coalition fighting to make abortion more accessible. Destiny, welcome to What A Day.
Destiny Lopez: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Priyanka Aribindi: So as an organizer that has long fought for reproductive justice, what was your initial reaction when you heard that the Supreme Court would hear challenges to Roe v. Wade?
Destiny Lopez: Unfortunately I was unsurprised. I’ve been doing this work for two decades now and in really in the last decade, we’ve seen a slow, steady drip of state legislatures that have sought to ban abortion. And I think our opponents’ agenda has always been to ban abortion outright. And year after year, we were seeing hundreds of abortion restrictions being introduced in the states. Abortions have really been legislated out of existence in many states over the past several years, and so I think we were bound to see this and it was just a matter of when it would happen. And here we are.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and we heard you on Pod Save the People last year you were talking about the Hyde amendment. I think that’s something that sometimes comes up, but maybe people don’t necessarily have a ton of familiarity with. It’s a law that bans the use of federal funds for an abortion. Could you talk about how the push to repeal the Hyde amendment relates to this current moment that we’re living in?
Destiny Lopez: Yeah. I mean, some would argue that because of the Hyde amendment, Roe has been out of existence or not a reality for Black and brown folks. Roe happens in ’73. About three years later, Congress passes the Hyde amendment. And the congressmen who it’s named after, Henry Hyde, actually said in his testimony around this appropriations hearing that if he could ban abortion outright, he would but the only thing he had in his control was the Medicaid program. And so Hyde essentially prevents anyone who’s enrolled in Medicaid from accessing abortion care. Those folks tend to be, in this country Black, indigenous, and other people of color, and folks who are working to make ends meet. And so for those folks, it has been more and more impossible, certainly from an affordability standpoint, to get abortion care in this country. And then those same folks are bearing the brunt of the restrictions that are happening now, if you think about where they’re happening, in the south, right, in the southwest. As I said, it’s like a slow, steady drip. And that’s all the way since the Hyde amendment.
Gideon Resnick: There’s a lot of other reporting out there about this hitting marginalized communities the hardest. Can you talk a little bit about if, you know, Roe gets overturned, how that would further impact those communities specifically?
Destiny Lopez: So if we think about who’s most impacted right now by abortion restrictions, they tend to be Black and brown folks, folks who are working multiple jobs, working to make ends meet, working really hard to do that—and those, unsurprisingly, happen to be the same folks that are impacted by the pandemic, right, who are impacted by the racial reckoning that started a couple of years ago. If you think about the demographics of Mississippi, right? Texas, you know, we’ve got a huge LatinX and immigrant population, so it is already populations that have never been served by our health care system in general. While you know it’s the same people over and over who are facing, whether it’s racism or economic injustice, and now, you know, who we’re seeking abortion justice for. And those are ultimately the ones who are going to be most impacted—already are most impacted, but certainly if the Supreme Court rules the wrong way, will feel this the most.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, OK. So ever since the Supreme Court upheld the Texas law banning abortions after six weeks, conservative lawmakers have really wasted no time pushing similar, if not worse, anti-abortion bills in their respective states across the country. One example, Nebraska recently introduced a bill that would ban all abortions without exceptions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. So how are organizers like yourself combating these Republican-backed efforts on the local level?
Destiny Lopez: You know, we’ve been in such a defensive crouch as a movement for so long, we have to get creative and find solutions that are out of the box. But we’re also asking the federal government to do things like How can we make it more secure for immigrant communities, right, to ensure that if they’re going to have to travel across state lines to get abortion care increasingly, how do we make sure they’re also not going to be worried about getting stopped by ICE? And what I’m heartened by are all of the Black and brown organizers on the ground in states like Texas and Georgia who are really leading these fights.
Gideon Resnick: Where do things stand on Hyde amendment repeals at the moment? What kind of timeline are we looking at on the federal level for that?
Destiny Lopez: When we started All Above All after the Affordable Care Act—that was 10 years ago when we thought we were in a 15 year fight, it’s taken a little longer. We had a couple of setbacks with something called the Trump administration, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we had a couple of really important and historic moments this year and last year. President Biden was the first president since the Hyde amendment, you know, was first introduced to remove that restriction from his budget, which would have ultimately meant that Medicaid coverage would have been restored. Now, the numbers aren’t so good for us in the Senate. We haven’t gotten all the way up to the finish line, but I think we’ve had important markers that are laid down so that when the tide turns in Congress, we really have set the stage for that to be overturned in the long term.
Gideon Resnick: So I do also want to get back to Texas. So we’re talking to you about five months, I believe, into the ban being instituted in the state. But what have the impacts been over that span of time?
Destiny Lopez: What it has meant is that folks have to leave the state of Texas in order to get care. You have to think about the states that surround it. So people are going to Colorado, people are going to California, right? We know that the states that are bordering Texas that have more progressive abortion laws are actually on the receiving end of those folks. We have folks that are crossing the border to Mexico, right, because they are able to acquire pills there. Folks are having to now scrape together money to make that trip. And that’s not an inexpensive trip to make. You’re probably boarding a plane. You’re probably leaving your family behind, which means you have to get child care, you’re losing a day of work, and then you haven’t even paid for your abortion yet. So it’s now gotten, there are more barriers for you to getting that care. It’s more expensive and likely because you have all those barriers, you’re probably getting that procedure later in pregnancy. And the later you go, the more expensive it gets. It’s a mass exodus from Texas to get abortion care at this point. So for all intents and purposes, it is outlawed in Texas right now.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: So you spoke a little bit about money just now. There’s obviously a lot of money that’s also flowing into anti-abortion organizations that have been gearing up for this fight, you know, for years. I want to know a little bit more about the infrastructure that exists on the other side, though, to counter that. And what are the encouraging signs in terms of involvement? What do we have going on there?
Destiny Lopez: One of the areas where we’re seeing a lot of movement is folks supporting abortion funds. We are going to need to put money in the hands of abortion funds on the ground. And so I think the abortion funds, the national network of abortion funds, have seen a huge influx of contributions and that money needs to keep flowing because the need is going to grow once the Supreme Court makes that decision if it rules in the wrong way. I also think there’s been a lot of support going to our independent clinics and our Planned Parenthood clinics who really form the backbone of abortion care. They’re obviously going to see their clinics closing. They’re going to have to do everything they can to help their existing clinics survive and now get an influx of patients, right, from these neighboring states. And so that’s where we’ve also seen it. But at the federal level, we do have the Women’s Health Protection Act, which will counter some of the legal aspects of this issue. And so there’s a push to get that passed through Congress. So there is some hope, but I think a lot of us now are starting to think about like, what’s the long term here? What’s our vision for abortion access? Because that’s where we need to go, because we’re in it for another 15 to 20 years of building back.
Gideon Resnick: Wow. Yeah, yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: For our listeners who are hearing this and want to get involved, want to do something, what do you suggest, you know, that they do in the fight for abortion justice, and how not to just feel powerless while we wait for a Supreme Court ruling?
Destiny Lopez: Yeah, yeah. So fund abortion. Find your local abortion fund—there’s an abortion fund in almost every state in this country—or donate to the national network of abortion funds who can redistribute that money. Go to keepourclinics dot org. That is how you can support the independent clinics who provide the majority of abortions in this country right now and will continue to play that role even if Roe is gutted. We want abortion care that’s available without unnecessary barriers, that’s affordable and accessible, so we need to be asking our federal government to make sure that that’s readily available. We need to make sure that state governments are banning that use or the use of telehealth, right? So there’s ways for us to call for state legislatures to begin to take these issues on, to reverse bad policies, but also to begin to build back—we’ve been using this phrase Build Back Better, because that’s like a big thing that the federal government right now—but like we need to build abortion back better now. And so that’s where I have hope, and that’s what I’m in it for is I want to envision the future of abortion care, and we need to start doing that now to realize that vision, you know, in the next 5 to 10 to 20 years.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Really grateful for your time, Destiny. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Destiny Lopez: Thanks again for having me and for talking about this issue.
Priyanka Aribindi: More on all of us very soon, but that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Tonga went into lockdown last night after reporting five cases of the coronavirus. This comes weeks after the nation was battered by a powerful volcanic eruption and tsunami. Tonga had been virtually virus free since the beginning of the pandemic, and officials had actually feared that by accepting aid from other countries following Tonga’s natural disasters, that residents would be exposed to COVID. Ships and planes from Australia, China, New Zealand, Japan and Britain have all been delivering aid. And those nations had promised to drop off their supplies without actually coming into contact with anybody in Tonga, but two port workers helping distribute the aid tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, and three more people tested positive on Wednesday. During a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said that the lockdown would help slow the spread, and boats won’t be allowed to travel between islands. Tonga is a nation of 171 islands, 45 of which are inhabited.
Priyanka Aribindi: Jeez. COVID really making the effort to get absolutely everywhere.
Gideon Resnick: Seriously.
Priyanka Aribindi: We hate to see it.
Gideon Resnick: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Brian Flores, who was fired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins back in January, filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams on Tuesday. In addition to suing the Dolphins, he is also suing the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos, both teams that he had previously interviewed to work for. Flores alleges he was fired on account of his race and says racial discrimination is endemic within the NFL, pointing to the fact that none of the league’s 32 team owners are Black, but all profit from the labor of its players, 70% of whom are African-American. Here is Flores speaking on CBS Mornings yesterday.
[clip of Brian Flores] We didn’t have to file a lawsuit for the world to know that there’s a problem from a hiring standpoint in regards to minority coaches in the National Football League. The numbers speak for themselves. We filed the lawsuit so that we could create some change.
Priyanka Aribindi: In response, the NFL’s released a statement Tuesday night saying these claims are made quote, “without merit.” Moving on to a different time when the NFL had a major problem with race, the Washington Football Team finally got a new name yesterday.
Gideon Resnick: Oy.
Priyanka Aribindi: They will be calling themselves The Commanders.
Gideon Resnick: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: It has been two years since the team officially tossed out its old name, which was considered a racial slur for Native Americans. As for a new mascot and fight song, the team’s president, Jason Wright, said that the commanders want their fans to help flesh out those ideas. Just like football, rebranding is a team sport and there is no “I” in the Commanders.
Gideon Resnick: Really looking forward to that. But I also want to say quickly, if people have not read the texts between Brian Flores and Bill Belichick—whooh. That is . . . something to see.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly.
Gideon Resnick: We’ll get into a lot of that very soon. The man whose grip on the minds of liberal-leaning parents with cable once seemed immutable, CNN’s president Jeff Zucker, stepped down yesterday, after revealing that he had failed to disclose a romance with a fellow executive. The relationship came to light following investigations into another scandal at CNN, specifically into the conduct of former anchor Chris Cuomo, who is alleged to have read Americans the news while simultaneously working to suppress the news of sexual harassment allegations against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo—that’s right, folks, they are back in your lives—
Priyanka Aribindi: Unfortunately.
Gideon Resnick: —and in your ears, again. Aren’t we all so very lucky? Zucker had been involved with Allison Gollust, CNN’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and—just adding one more thread to this very tangled Cuomo web—the communications director for Andrew Cuomo for four months around 2013! Wow. Gollust will stay on at CNN. In his resignation letter, Zucker said of his relationship quote, “I was required to disclose it when it began, but I didn’t. I was wrong.” His departure was celebrated by many on the right, including Donald Trump, who often attacked Zucker for his network’s coverage of his presidency—when, really, you think about it, was not so bad. There was a lot of empty podium shots we got of Trump rallies during that era.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I don’t fully understand that complaint. I also don’t fully understand why people don’t date outside of the workplace a little more often. Just try it. Call me crazy. There are options out there.
Gideon Resnick: There are options, indeed.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly a whole world outside of your workplace. Just saying,
Gideon Resnick: Listen, Jeff.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s fine. Once again, billions of innocent dollars are caught in the middle of a high-profile divorce—oh no. Melinda French Gates will reportedly no longer give most of her approximately $6 billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as she had planned, but instead, she will spread her money across other philanthropic endeavors. According to The Wall Street Journal, she made the decision late last year when she published her first solo giving pledge letter since separating from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Along with Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda started the giving pledge in 2010 to try and encourage the other rich people of the world to donate over half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. In this model, no, you do not pay taxes. Don’t worry. That’s still not part of the equation. But you do give huge presents and get to write about it on Medium.
Gideon Resnick: Sick.
Priyanka Aribindi: Melinda Gates is at least a self-aware multibillionaire and wrote in last year’s letter quote, “I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away.” The Gates Foundation had no comment on these reports.
Gideon Resnick: I’m sure they have been having no comments on quite a few many things.
Priyanka Aribindi: Quite a few things over the past few months. Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: That’s a busy inbox over there. I feel bad for who is handling that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Big yikes.
Gideon Resnick: And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go: check out the latest episode of Hysteria. This week, senior critic-at-large and fashion critic at The Washington Post, Robin Givan joins us to discuss the intersection of fashion and politics, how Michelle Obama changed the first lady’s style game, and curious case of the president’s pocket squares. Plus, Erin and Alyssa discuss the Republican-led state attack on abortion, and debate about President Biden’s soon-to-be-named SCOTUS pick. New episodes of Hysteria drop every Thursday. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, think of the innocent dollars please, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just the list of known Cuomo associates like me—it’s long—What a day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And put us in charge of CNN!
Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t do that. It sounds like a miserable job.
Gideon Resnick: I really would not wish it on my worst enemy.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know, but I think if you put us on TV for an hour, that could be fun.
Gideon Resnick: That could be very fun. That we’re OK with.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just a thought for whoever’s taking over.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, just maybe. Thank you in advance. 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, with writing support from Jocey Coffman, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.