In This Episode
- Five women who were denied abortions have filed a lawsuit against Texas over the state’s near-total abortion ban. It’s the first time that pregnant patients who are affected by such laws are taking legal action.
- Florida Republicans have introduced bills that would further restrict abortion in the state, including one that would prohibit the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant. If passed, the measures could also jeopardize abortion access across the South.
- And in headlines: two of the four Americans kidnapped in northeastern Mexico were found dead, the Justice Department wants to block JetBlue from buying Spirit Airlines, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agreed to testify before a Senate committee about his company’s labor practices.
- Vote Save America: Fuck Bans Action Plan – https://votesaveamerica.com/roe/
- Black Girl Scout Virtual Marketplace – https://www.justiceforblackgirls.com/black-girl-scout-virtual-marketplace
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, March 8th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day, where we’ve decided that Vanderpump Rules drama is Watergate for the Bravo generation.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, the decoding of every photo, video and questionable Tom Sandoval outfit is journalism truly at its finest.
Juanita Tolliver: Shout out to all the TikTok explainers for doing the Lord’s work. I’m so grateful.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the ACLU says the government has been working on facial recognition technology that could be used for mass surveillance. It’s really giving minority report y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Big yikes.
Juanita Tolliver: Plus. There is a booming black market for, you guessed it, Girl Scout cookies.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay, I want to know more. But first, five women who were denied abortions despite facing high medical risks have filed a lawsuit against Texas over the state’s near-total abortion ban. So this is the first case of its kind where pregnant patients themselves are taking legal action against a statewide abortion ban. As you all know, several of these bans went into effect around the country last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And Texas was one of those first states. Honestly, they could not wait to ban access to abortion care in the state. And we know that put doctors in a bind when they did it. So tell us more about who’s involved in the suit.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so the plaintiffs are five women in Texas, all of whom are married, some with other kids already. And all of them were excited to be pregnant. But as their pregnancies progressed, they all found out that their fetuses had no chance of survival. For example, in two cases, the fetus had no skull. So carrying these completely non-viable fetuses put them at risk of hemorrhage or serious life threatening infections. But all of these women were told that they could not have abortions. Some of their physicians refused to even present termination as an option or forward their medical records to other providers who might have been able to help them out. So four of these women were forced to travel to other states for emergency abortions. And the fifth, who was the lead plaintiff in this case, had to carry her fetus until she went into septic shock, nearly died and suffered permanent physical damage as a result.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. Not only is this heartbreaking, but it’s yet another reminder of why I have said repeatedly and why advocates across the country have said that abortion care is basic health care.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: And in these situations, lifesaving health care.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I mean, if we sound upset, it’s because we are. It’s crazy that it got to that point with these women. But according to their attorney, all five of these women should have qualified to receive an abortion. Like most states with these types of abortion bans. Texas supposedly allows exceptions. So if a doctor says that there is a risk of, quote, “substantial harm to the pregnant person,” the law allows them to provide the patient with an abortion. But the consequences that health care providers face for breaking this law are so high. They include prison sentences of up to 99 years or $100,000 fines, losing their medical licenses, that some Texas doctors don’t provide this necessary care to their patients even when this extremely, extremely restrictive law would allow them to do so because their patients health is being threatened. So these women are saying that they were denied necessary and potentially life saving care, and they are now taking legal action against the state of Texas with the help of The Center for Reproductive rights.
Juanita Tolliver: So is their suit trying to overturn Texas’s abortion ban or are they suing their providers for not helping them?
Priyanka Aribindi: So they’re actually not doing either of those things.
Juanita Tolliver: Interesting.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s very interesting. So what they want out of this suit is for the court to confirm that Texas’s law does in fact allow these doctors to offer their patients abortions if they are necessary. They go on to specify that that includes, you know, when the patient has a, quote, “physical, emergent medical condition that can’t be treated during the pregnancy” or that makes pregnancy unsafe to continue, or if the fetus has a condition that makes it unlikely to survive past birth. But beyond clarifying this Texas law and getting the court to say that, yes, in fact, the doctors can do this, what the suit may actually go on to do is illustrate to the American public who, by the way, most of them support abortion rights, that abortion is health care and is medically necessary in many cases. It’s not pro-life to subject these people to these completely preventable outcomes. And in other countries, lawsuits like this that centered around women who were denied abortions despite these huge medical risks that they faced, actually helped build support for legalized abortion. I know we had it before in this country. We’ve had this fight, but we have to go full circle because we don’t have these rights anymore.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And when you say that most of the country and most of the public supports abortion rights, thus consistently, more than two thirds of the country, like poll after poll–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –has shown this number for decades, y’all. So not only is the law on their side, the public is on their side, too. Now let’s jump from Texas back to Florida. I know our brilliant co-host Tre’vell told you all about all of the vile and disgusting policies that we should expect from DeSantis and the Republican controlled Florida state legislature as DeSantis gears up for a 2024 presidential run. And now the ball is officially rolling, y’all. Yesterday, Republican state Senator Erin Grall introduced a bill that would ban abortions before many people even know that they are, in fact, pregnant. You guessed it, this is another proposed six week abortion ban and the bill features exemptions up until the 15th week of pregnancy for people who become pregnant due to rape or incest. And before anyone even thinks that this exemption shows any degree of humanity. Y’all should know that to qualify for the exemption, a person must have a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation proving the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest and it is truly sickening.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s unfathomable. I mean, not only in this scenario has this person been assaulted. They have to go to law enforcement, go to places where they might not be comfortable.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: And have to get this documentation in a tight timeframe. This is extremely time sensitive and then they have to get signed off. It’s completely impractical for anyone who’s living in reality.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s cruel and it compounds the trauma. Let’s be real. A sexual assault survivor. They’re asking them to put aside the trauma and pain of the experience of being assaulted first and then go to these unsafe places like you just named. But–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –it’s creating another layer of violence for these survivors.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: And it just shows that the intention behind this law is the cruelty. The cruelty has been the point the entire time. And get this, the bill was announced just moments before DeSantis delivered his annual State of the State address yesterday. So not only was the timing a layup for the extremist agenda, DeSantis and the GOP controlled state legislature are advancing, but it’s showing how they’re trying to one up their previous anti-abortion bill, which was a 15 week abortion ban that’s currently being challenged in the courts. And since Florida isn’t an island, this six week ban could have an impact well beyond the state for the pregnant people who travel to Florida from neighboring states where abortions are almost completely banned. I’m talking about states like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
Priyanka Aribindi: I didn’t realize that this would have such a regional impact. Can you tell us more about that? .
Juanita Tolliver: Right. It’s really creating a situation that’s going to make it harder for people seeking abortions in the south writ large. According to analysis conducted by the Nineteenth last year alone, more than 6700 people traveled from their home state to Florida for the procedure. About 8% of the nearly 82,200 abortions performed there. That represents a nearly 38% increase in out-of-state abortions from 2021. Abortion clinics, particularly in northern Florida, which is closer to the Georgia border, have said that they are seeing twice as many patients as before with a large share coming from out of state. It’s almost like someone told DeSantis that Florida is the biggest regional hub for abortions as they now have 60 abortion clinics operating, and he is determined to shut it all down. And if rather, when this proposed six week ban gets passed, that would leave the region with three abortion clinics in South Carolina that perform abortions up to 14 weeks and about a dozen clinics in North Carolina.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, uh definitely not enough, obviously, to handle the need. But there is also, while this is going on, the still unresolved issues related to abortion medications that are compounding concerns around accessing safe abortions nationwide. Can you tell us a little more about where that stands?
Juanita Tolliver: Honestly, it feels like women and pregnant people are being boxed in. Of course, that feeling is heightened when you also consider that we’re still awaiting the pending decision from a Trump appointed federal judge in Texas regarding mifepristone, the first pill used in the two drug regimen for medication abortions, which, according to the Guttmacher Institute, now account for more than 50% of pregnancy terminations in the United States, as well as the fact that Walgreens is refusing to distribute mifepristone at its pharmacies in at least 20 states where Republican officials have threatened legal action. At this point, Democratic state leaders and governors are stepping up to respond, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, who declared Monday that California won’t be doing any business with Walgreens. Now, it’s unclear exactly what ongoing business between the state and Walgreens entailed, but a spokesperson for Newsom told Reuters that all relationships between Walgreens in California were now under review without providing further details. This is all developing news, so you can trust us to keep monitoring all of the details and we’ll share more updates soon. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Two of the four Americans kidnapped in northeastern Mexico last Friday have been found dead. The two survivors are now back in the U.S. Officials say that the group was abducted at gunpoint after they crossed the border from Texas into the city of Matamoros. At least one of the Americans was traveling for a medical procedure. Harrowing video footage of the kidnapping shows the gunmen loading the victims into a white pickup truck in broad daylight following a shooting that left a bystander dead. Authorities are investigating how and why it all unfolded, but one Mexican official said it may have been a case of mistaken identity. The area where the kidnapping took place is a stronghold for one of Mexico’s oldest cartels and has seen an increase in violence over the past decade.
Juanita Tolliver: The FBI and the Pentagon have been working on highly advanced AI powered surveillance technology that could be used to track anyone anywhere in the United States. That’s according to documents obtained by the ACLU and shared with The Washington Post. The materials show that American intelligence agencies teamed up with researchers to develop frighteningly accurate facial recognition software. Case in point, a test run outlined in the documents found that it could recognize a subject from more than half a mile away, even if their face was partially obstructed. The revelations are, of course, raising serious concerns about privacy because the technology could be used in public street cameras, drones and even police body cameras to track people. Similar surveillance technology is already online across China and Russia, as well as in the city of London. And while some states and cities here in the U.S. either ban or restrict police from using facial recognition technology, there are no federal regulations for how it can be used. This is all a major red flag for this brown girl who knows AI does not recognize my features.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, uh someone better get some federal regulations on the books pronto. This does not sound good. French labor unions continued their show of resistance to President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the national retirement age to 64 with another day of nationwide protests yesterday. According to local reports, one and a half million people took to the streets across the country, though the unions organizing the day of action put the number of protesters closer to three and a half million. Je suis very, very impressed. And this is just the latest demonstration to disrupt transportation, schools, and services in the past two months as tensions grow over the proposal. It’s unclear if the protests have done anything to sway Macron and his Cabinet. The president has largely been silent about his pension reform plan since it was announced. But yesterday’s action comes amid multiple rolling worker strikes designed to pressure lawmakers into throwing out the policy entirely.
Juanita Tolliver: The Justice Department filed suit yesterday to block JetBlue from buying Spirit Airlines. You may remember that JetBlue won a bidding war last summer to acquire Spirit for a whopping $3.8 billion dollars.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wild to me that there was a bidding war.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl and they were dropping mad coins. But the proposed merger, which would create the fifth largest airline in the U.S. faced heavy criticism from regulators ever since it was announced. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters the takeover would stifle competition and actually raise airfare prices. He even said JetBlue’s plan to revamp the discount airline in the merger would, quote, “eliminate Spirit’s unique and disruptive role in the industry.” I guess he’s talking about the fact that your seats will not recline, Priyanka.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. What?
Juanita Tolliver: Unique and disruptive. Gag. So next time you find yourself flying Spirit Airlines, knees up to the chair in front of you contemplating buying a $6 can of Pringles just to feel something, thinking is this bad? Ask yourself instead, is this unique and disruptive?
Priyanka Aribindi: Merrick Garland using what could only be described as the politest possible adjectives to describe Spirit Airlines [laughter] is hysterical to me. Nothing has ever been funnier.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s giving Marco Rubio announcing a presidential run, saying he’s uniquely qualified. [laugh] Like that’s the vibe. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: In a surprise about face, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to testify before a Senate committee about his company’s labor practices. This comes after Senator Bernie Sanders threatened to hold a vote to subpoena him. Schultz initially declined an invitation to testify before the committee last month. He thought it was one of those you know invitations that was actually an invite. It was really–
Juanita Tolliver: Casual.
Priyanka Aribindi: –more of a formality. [laugh] Um. He is now scheduled to appear before the lawmakers on March 29th. He can expect questioning over the company’s alleged anti-union activities. I would personally never want to stare down Senator Bernie Sanders on this matter, especially not if I were Howard Schultz. So uh worst of luck to him. I think this is going to go terribly.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, I love I love when the situation when a billionaire squirms like, I’m looking so forward to this. [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly worst of luck to you.
Juanita Tolliver: On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on a burgeoning resale market for this season’s new Girl Scout cookie. The raspberry rally, which is only available online and has been marketed as a sister cookie for the ever popular Thin Mint, is described as follows. Thin, crispy cookies infused with raspberry flavor dipped in chocolaty coating. So if the thin mint is the Gigi Hadid of the Girl Scout cookies, the Raspberry Rally is the Bella.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh wow.
Juanita Tolliver: After selling out in local markets within hours, the normally $4 to $7 boxes have been marked up for sale on eBay for as much as five times the price. Have these people no shame? Give the money to the Girl Scouts, y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s like a $25 to $35 box.
Juanita Tolliver: Sickening. The Girl Scouts of the USA have rebuked these third party resellers, asking cookie enthusiasts to support the girls by opting instead for one of their other cookies. Meanwhile, Girl Scout troops with later cookie seasons are busy preparing their customers for the hype. The Girl Scouts of Northern California will start selling their raspberry rallys online today, warning potential customers via Twitter that like Beyoncé tickets, these cookies will be gone and fast. So get in line Priyanka.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I need these cookies. I have not been approached by a Girl Scout in like years and years. I need a Girl Scout in my life. Somebody If you are a Girl Scout, if you know a Girl Scout, get in my mentions. I want this cookie. I must have it.
Juanita Tolliver: Can we also talk about how my geriatric self only fills out the Girl Scout form, so I didn’t even know this flavor was available. But I’m excited to try it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah they have an online operation, like I’m learning so much.
Juanita Tolliver: We got to step it up.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads. Hopefully some Girl Scouts can bring us into this century. Please and thank you. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: It is Wednesday, WAD squad. And for today’s temp check we are talking about the reigning queen of the rom com returning to our living rooms. Netflix announced the cast for their upcoming project with Nancy Meyers, the writer and director behind classics such as The Parent Trap, Something’s Gotta Give, and the Holiday. Scarlett Johansson, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz and Michael Fassbender will star in the movie, interesting group, which is set to begin shooting in May. Also raising eyebrows is the budget, which is estimated to be $130 million dollars. Just how much Le Creuset cookware can one protagonist kitchen have? We will find out what $129 million dollars worth of Le Creuset looks like. I imagine. So Juanita, with this news in mind, how are you feeling about the current state of the rom com?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, first and foremost, I’ve been fucking up Le Creuset like period, even though it’s in my house. So let me confess to that. Uh. Number two, Love, love, love Nancy Meyers Work. Something got to give, the holiday, winners. Parent Trap. Never seen it. Will never see it. Number three, I will never support anything Scarlett Johansson is. Change this casting. I want to see the movie, but I cannot under these conditions. But Priyanka, what do you think?
Priyanka Aribindi: Scarlett Johansson, just after everything she’s said about all the characters she should be allowed to play, not sitting so great with me, so–
Juanita Tolliver: Not my vibe.
Priyanka Aribindi: I can’t say I’m her biggest fan. Nancy Meyers, though I will give it a shot. I’m curious. The state of the rom com up until now, you know, there were some good ones, Something from Tiffany’s this past winter. That was good.
Juanita Tolliver: Very cute, very cute.
Priyanka Aribindi: That gave me some hope that rom coms are, you know, on a little upswing. But there definitely have been like the Ashton Kutcher, Reese Witherspoon, one. Didn’t even try it because no chemistry.
Juanita Tolliver: Pass. Hard pass.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know, getting mixed messages about the state, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. I want to spend like 15 minutes digging into why you are so adamantly anti-Parent Trap. I love that movie with my whole heart.
Juanita Tolliver: Because the original was superior. Lindsay Lohan–
Priyanka Aribindi: I’ve never seen the original.
Juanita Tolliver: –doesn’t do it justice. But okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Lindsay Lohan–
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: –as like a 12 year old, Juanita!
Juanita Tolliver: Okay!
Priyanka Aribindi: She’s like a kid!
Juanita Tolliver: What has that got to do with performing? She’s a kid who’s paid to perform, and she was underwhelming. That’s all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Juanita!
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all I gotta say. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: But you haven’t ever seen it? [laugh and clap] You said you’ll never watch it. I thought she was–
Juanita Tolliver: I have seen the previews–
Priyanka Aribindi: –lovely.
Juanita Tolliver: –and it was flat.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. But Lisa and Walter, the woman who plays Elizabeth James, Dennis Quaid, there’s a lot going on. Love that movie so much.
Juanita Tolliver: I guess.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just like that we have checked our temps. They are, could be rising. We’re curious. We are–
Juanita Tolliver: Ice cold, frigid. Absolutely not.
Priyanka Aribindi: Never mind they were negative. We broke the thermometer. [laughter] [music break] [AD BREAK] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Risk it all for a box of raspberry rallys and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the entire rom com section on any streaming service like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And Happy International Women’s Day.
Juanita Tolliver: Not that our country loves us or takes care of us or any of that, but okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Juanita, we’re trying to be happy.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay. I’m a keep it 100 with a smile.
Priyanka Aribindi: Every other institution in the world might not be wishing a happy International Women’s Day, but to us, it’s always Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day.
Juanita Tolliver: All of it.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know.
Juanita Tolliver: All the things. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: 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 Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]