Draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito would overturn decision that legalized abortion. MSNBC continues its coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
SAMANTHA POWER, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: But getting it out of Ukraine, at scale, and out to developing countries that are so vulnerable is our biggest challenge right now. So, more pressure on Russia to open up those ports. Now, pressure has paid off so far. There`s pressure by African countries, that`s going to be important.
We have drawn down something called the Bill Emerson Trust, with USDA, our agriculture colleagues, to bring commodities on to the market, the supplemental requests, ask for an addition $3 billion in humanitarian assistance. That`s going to be incredibly important. And USAID is working in 80 countries, developing countries, many in sub-Saharan Africa to think about how can they draw on, for, example organic fertilizer --
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Right --
POWER: -- so as not to have to rely on Russian fertilizer, which, of course, is now limited in the export market.
HAYES: That is a very clarifying answer. I thank you for your time. Samantha Power, thank you very much.
That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.
"MSNBC PRIME" starts now with Ali Velshi.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris, thank you. Good evening to you and we`ll see you tomorrow.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The Supreme Court`s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is top of mind across the nation right now. But I want to begin tonight with a different ruling, one from 1954. That was the year the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board, that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. The lawyers who argued the case before the Supreme Court and won included the future Supreme Court justice, this man, Thurgood Marshall. He and his co-counsel stood outside the court after the ruling to celebrate the victory.
They expressed a hope and expectation that southern segregation estates would comply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my opinion that the South will be law abiding and will comply with the decision of the court and accept it as members of our democratic society.
THURGOOD MARSHALL, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I don`t think there`s any question about in the South. People in the South are just as loyal as anybody else and other decisions have come down which they said they wouldn`t like and there`s never been any trouble as a result of any of these issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: So maybe a bit of ironic foreshadowing there because there were, of course, several critics of the ruling mostly from southern segregation estates. One of the most vociferous critics of that decision, even years later was this man, Jerry Falwell, one of the most prominent leaders of the evangelical movement in America.
There`s -- this is a little bit of a sermon that he gave to his congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia, years after that ruling was rendered. Quote: If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God`s word and had desired to do the Lord`s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made. The facility should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line. The true Negro does not want integration. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race, end quote.
Falwell went on to assert that integration, quote, will destroy our race eventually.
In the aftermath of Brown v. Board, segregation became a motivating factor including for the evangelical movement. More than 3,000 private schools and academies popped up in the years after the ruling. White students instructed separately and apart from Black students, despite the court decision. Some of those institutions included Falwell`s Lynchburg Christian Academy which was founded in 1967.
Years after the Brown v. Board decision, when the government tried to deny tax-exempt status to segregated private schools, folks like Jerry Falwell were enraged. Other schools like the fundamentalist Bob Jones University went to court over the matter, arguing that racial segregation was a religious matter. They lost. The decision was nearly unanimous.
The history shows that the pioneers -- for the pioneers of the evangelical movement, for people like Jerry Falwell, segregation was a motivating factor long before abortion was. In fact in 1973, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, evangelicals weren`t exactly motivated by Roe. In fact, the former president of America`s largest protestant denomination, the southern Baptist convention actually endorsed the ruling Roe v. Wade.
He said, quote, I`ve always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always therefore seemed to me that what is best for the mother and the future should be allowed, end quote.
In fact, in 1971, before the decision in Roe v. Wade, that same protestant group resolved to seek pro-abortion legislation allowing the procedure in certain cases and they reaffirmed that resolution in the year after Roe in 1974, pushing for legislation that would allow people to choose abortion in specific instances. It was not until years after the Roe ruling that the evangelical movement decided that coalescing around abortion was the way to unify religious groups and gain political power.
The anger of evangelicals was activated by segregation but continued segregation would prove to be a less than palatable way to motivate evangelical voters on a broad scale, not enough to win elections with. So that`s where the issue of abortion came in.
Senate races in Minnesota and Iowa in 1978 showed that an anti-abortion pro-life movement could unite the religious right and give them real political power. In Minnesota, pro-life Republicans won two Senate seats.
In Iowa, the Democratic incumbent, Senator Dick Clark, was expected to win by a landslide. He did not, primarily due to the work of mostly Catholic pro-like life activists. Clark had supported federal funding for abortions for low-income women. He had opposed an amendment that would restrict abortions, so anti-abortion activists rallied support to vote him out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Richard Clark, six years in the U.S. Senate and then out on one issue, the one political insider said didn`t matter.
RICHARD CLARK (D), FORMER SENATOR: I had voted for public funding of abortion. I`d refused to sponsor a constitutional amendment to support that and my opponent said that he would. So it was a clear-cut case, one of the clearest in the United States I think in the Senate races.
THE REPORTER: The anti-abortion movement has political clout. That surprised a lot of journalists and political analysts who believed those people made a lot of noise but not much difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: After those 1978 races, those people resolved to make a whole lot more noise and in a very organized way. In a letter to fellow conservatives or to a fellow conservative, another conservative activist and the leader of the religious right, Paul Richey characterized those anti-abortion victories as quote true cause for celebration another conservative activist predicted that opposition to abortion would quote pull together many of our fringe Christian friends, end quote.
But that was the plan to bottle up all of that ire that evangelicals felt about segregation and concentrate it on abortion, making sweeping moral arguments against health care that they claim was founded in religion. That was the plan to build political power and Republican politicians campaigned accordingly.
In 1980, the Republican candidate for president, Ronald Reagan, campaigned on a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion. It`s one of the issues that helped send him to the White House. He gained the support of those opposed to abortion and he won the presidency, ousting Jimmy Carter. The 1980 saw the Reagan administration focus increasingly on abortion and the rise of the Federalist Society and a trend towards strict textualists like this man Robert Bork, a failed Supreme Court nominee who criticized the justice who wrote the Brown v. Board decision.
That trend continued through the Trump administration. In 2015, Trump courted and forged a coalition with the religious right, with figures like Jerry Falwell Jr. To secure their backing and their funding, he notoriously released a list of conservative justices whom he would nominate if elected. His then-running mate pledged during their campaign that their judicial nominees would bring an end to Roe once and for all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court of the United States as Donald Trump intends to do, I believe we will see Roe versus Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And they did. Trump appointed three conservative judges. And this week, with the leaked draft of opinion condemning Roe to the, quote, ash heap, we can see how this all is very likely to shake out.
With Roe gone, minority women will likely bear the brunt of this new upcoming restriction on their health care in roughly half the country, not to mention the fact that the draft opinion is written in a way that could dismantle other rights, things like the right to same-sex marriage, the right to contraception, interracial marriage, privacy, all of these things are now on the table. The religious right charted this course decades ago, in their anger over segregation to build power on the back of abortion and dismantle the rights they don`t care for and so far it seems to be working.
Joining us now is Elise Hogue. She served as the president of NARAL Pro- choice America for eight years. She authored "The Lie that Binds," a book that offers a comprehensive history of the right-wing anti-abortion movement in America and its ties to white supremacy.
Ms. Hogue, thank you for being here tonight.
You have made these connections very clearly in your book. It`s not one that people think about very clearly, that the opposition, the conservative opposition to abortion is not necessarily about religion or conservative values. It`s about power.
ILYSE HOGUE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NARAL PRO-CHOICE OF AMERICA: Absolutely and then more than that, Ali, it is about power of the minority over a rising majority. You have to remember at the time all of these machinations were going on what was happening what was the backdrop in American culture. You had the rise of women`s liberation, you had the Black power movement, you had the pill, the contra -- widely available contraception.
So sexual liberation, gay rights -- it was all threatening the hegemonic grip that the white patriarchy had enjoyed since the beginning of the United States as we know it. And all of that was being threatened in the moment that there was a sort of craven decision to weaponize abortion as the tip of the spirit to roll back decades of social progress. And I think the lesson that we have to learn from that is although they would want us to believe that this leaked decision should it come to pass is end game and they will stop with abortion, abortion is and always has been a Trojan force for a desperate cling to power by the white patriarchy and a country that is rapidly and has been rapidly changing for decades.
VELSHI: That`s a remarkable thing for a lot of people to think about because one doesn`t think about the elimination of Roe v. Wade as a Trojan horse. They think of that as the end game they think of that as the capture of the whole thing.
Tell me what you mean by Trojan horse. What do you believe in this quest for power is in danger?
HOGUE: It`s an excellent question and allow me to say because it`s very important that if it was only abortion, that should be enough, right?
HOGUE: Abortion is fund -- a fundamental freedom that has to be embraced by our nation as a core value in order to actually aspire to that promise of democracy, justice and human empowerment. So period, right?
However, that is not all that they are after. Whether you look at the history, which as you say we -- you did a tremendous job by the way, Ali, in the intro. But we worked very, very hard and assiduously researched in the book, or whether you just look at the actual decision and the way it`s come down. It is written in such a way that nothing is sacrosanct, that all of these rights that we have achieved for groups that lived on the margins of society because they were not written into the Constitution the way white men were, all of those rights are in jeopardy.
And let`s be clear, one of the things that we have always said is if you don`t have the power of the majority with you. And by the way, the legal right to abortion has always been a popular opinion with the majority. Pre- Roe when broken down and it is today.
But when you don`t have the power of the majority, what do you do? You result to disinformation, which abortion disinformation, predated COVID disinformation by a lot, we traveled a lot of the same vectors, voter suppression always goes hand in hand with robbing women of reproductive freedom, and court capture.
And we may be at the endgame of court capture unless we make some radical and dramatic changes but we are not at the end game of what this court will dismantle in terms of rights of others that they did not recognize in the originalist version of the Constitution.
VELSHI: So, let`s talk about what happens now and how people who are concerned about this motivate decision makers at any level, whether it`s in Congress or at the court. When you say abortion should be enough, like if there`s nothing else, if that -- if that were the end game, that should be enough. That`s true. But when you add that extra part about these other things that are not enumerated in the Constitution, which some lawyers say is weak tea. That argument is strange because there`s lots of rights we enjoy that are not enumerated in the Constitution.
But when you add all of those things that can be taken away, should that motivate more people who otherwise were not motivated by Roe v. Wade? Should that motivate people who say rights in general are starting to be dismantled across this country and this becomes existential to our democracy?
HOGUE: Do I wish everybody was motivated by the right to abortion because robbing women and pregnant people of their reproductive autonomy should be enough? Absolutely I do. However, if that is not your motivation, you should not think you are safe. There is the old adage of they did not come for me and so I did not fight. They are coming for all of us and unless you look like them and believe like them. And now they believe with the power of the court that they have it.
But what they don`t have is the power of the people. They depend on our willingness to believe that we are beaten and to go home. And I will tell you having been down at the Supreme Court myself last night, I was invigorated by the fact that people are not going home. They are coming out and they will continue to come out, whether it`s for abortion funds, whether it`s for legislative reform, whether it`s for court reform, or whether it`s at the polls in November, people are coming out.
VELSHI: Elise, thanks for your work. We appreciate it. Thank you for taking time to be with us tonight to help us understand this. Elise Hogue is the author of the important book "The Lie That Binds". She`s the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Well, we`ve got much more ahead here tonight, including new developments in the January 6th investigation. Big developments.
But up next, a Democrat did something in Michigan last night that no other Democrat has done in decades. They beat a Republican in a very red district. That Democrat joins us live, next.
VELSHI: All right. Take a look at this, this is Ohio`s ninth congressional district. It`s by no means a deep red district. It`s currently represented by the Democrat, Marcy Kaptur. And thanks to redistricting, it`s now considered a swing district.
There were several Republican contenders vying to be the candidate in that swing congressional district. There was a state senator, a member of the Ohio state house, and then there was this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.R. MAJEWSKI (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Now, you may remember me is the guy who painted his lawn with the world`s largest Trump 2020 campaign logo, which really triggered the left.
I`m willing to do whatever it takes to return this country back to its former glory. If I need to kick down doors, that`s what patriots do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The kicking down the door is not actually what got my attention. It was -- it was the big gun.
That guy`s name is J.R. Majewski. He was one of the people who attended the Stop the Steal rally in Washington on January 6th. He claims to have raised money to bring other Trump supporters there that day.
He really did make the world`s largest Trump campaign lawn sign. Here he is posting with it, while wearing one of several QAnon shirts that he`s reported to have once owned.
He also makes his own MAGA rap videos, but even I have limit. So, you`re not going to get hear Majewski`s rap tunes right now.
Here`s the thing, J.R. Majewski won last night`s primary to be the Republican candidate in that important swing district.
He`s not the only fringe candidate to have won last night. Ohio Republicans also elected the election denier Max Miller to be their candidate in Ohio`s seventh congressional district. "The Daily Beast" described Max Miller as, quote, a former White House aide with a thin resume and a rap sheet that includes multiple charges in his home state of Ohio for assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, end quote. Incidentally, unlike Majewski, Miller`s rap sheet isn`t about lyrics.
Last year, Trump endorsed Miller to run against an incumbent Republican who voted to certify Joe Biden`s elector election victory and that incumbent Republican then quit the race rather than face a Trump backed challenger. But then redistricting pushed Max Miller into a different district with a different Republican incumbent who then also had to retire instead of facing a Trump back challenger.
So thanks to Max Miller, Ohio Republicans are now down to two incumbents but at least they got the rapping yard sign guy.
In state after state, we are seeing Trump-backed Republicans win their party`s nomination running on a platform of conspiracy theories about how the 2020 election was stolen. But while election conspiracy candidates are winning Republican primaries where they run against each other, they`re having less luck when facing off against Democrats even in an election cycle that`s supposed to favor Republicans.
Last night, Michigan held a special a special election for a vacant House seat. Trump had won the district by double digits in 2020. It`d been represented by Republicans for more than three decades. So the conventional wisdom was that this was going to be an easy Republican victory.
The Republican in that race was a conservative QAnon conspiracy theorist. He claimed that Ukraine was, quote, culpable for its invasion by Russia. He ran on a platform of trying to decertify the election and at one point, he decided to use a very unfortunate metaphor for that fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT REGAN (R), GOP CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN HOUSE SEAT: You know, having three daughters and I tell my daughters, well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: See the shocked look on the face of the woman next to him, well, that woman is a fellow Republican.
The Democrat running against the fringe QAnon rape Joe guy decided that she was going to make that candidate`s extremism and conspiracy theories a focus of her campaign and it worked. The Democrat Carol Glanville won the special election for that state house seat deep in the heart of Trump country. After her victory, she told "The Washington Post", quote: Democrats need to tell their story. The big takeaway from all this is that people are tired of radicalism and conspiracy theories.
Joining us now is Carol Glanville, the Democratic Michigan state representative elect who won that special election. Ms. Glanville, thank you for joining us. Congratulations on your victory.
I want to ask you.
I want to start by asking you. Do you think your race was a special case because of the odious things that your opponents said and the weird stances he had, or is it a model that can be replicated by other Democrats who can really call extremist candidates out on the beliefs that they have?
CAROL GLANVILLE (D), MICHIGAN: I`d say probably both of those things I mean what I found going door to door and running my campaign here in West Michigan is that you know people really were able to come around voting for values and shared -- those shared values and working to solve problems in our community. They are interested in the things that affect them on a day- to-day basis, like great public schools, strong public schools, clean water, good jobs for working families, comprehensive health care. You know, they`re not interested in this fear-mongering and the hatred and vitriol and the radicalism.
They`re tired of it and I think that was demonstrated in my election last night and that`s I mean for me to win that seat clearly there had to be bipartisan support for my candidacy.
VELSHI: Yeah, clearly.
GLANVILLE: That message resonates with folks.
VELSHI: The numbers indicate that. There was no way to win that just with Democratic votes.
So what do you say to people who say that Democrats in this election cycle need to focus solely on pocketbook issues, the economy, inflation, these kinds of things and not get distracted by election conspiracies and extremist antics?
GLANVILLE: Yeah, I would say, we just need to stand up for what we know is the right thing, right? Like I said, it`s common sense and decency and those solid fundamental values that at the end of the day, you know, that`s what everybody wants, and that`s what everybody`s looking for.
And so, I think you`re right, like we don`t -- we shouldn`t get distracted by these things but we shouldn`t ignore them either it`s time for us to call it out, right? I feel like sometimes the Democratic party is a little bit too Midwest nice and for those of you who aren`t from the Midwest that might not resonate with you as much.
But, you know, we tend to be -- we tend to be very nice as Democrats and I think it`s time for us to really just you know say enough is enough and start calling these things out and then start talking about what folks really want to hear about.
VELSHI: I`m from Canada, so I get the Midwest nice thing.
There are -- there are two election deniers who are running for statewide office in Michigan. One of them is running for the position that would actually oversee the elections in the entire state. How did that resonate?
When you were talking to people as you were campaigning, do people care about that stuff, the actual election integrity issue that has become so central to Michigan politics?
GLANVILLE: I think election integrity is -- it`s another one of the kind of misconceptions that the Republican Party is trying to throw out there. They wrap their message in what sounds like something that people would be interested in when in fact it is anti-democratic, right? Everything they talk about is anti-education, anti-democratic, anti-health care, anti- everything. But they wrap it in this kind of a conundrum, right, the message is a little bit confusing for folks.
So when you hear election integrity, it sounds like something, yeah, we should all we should all get around that. But when you understand that what they mean by election integrity is, you know, stripping voting rights from people, closing polling stations, disallowing absentee voting, things like that, then that`s not election integrity. That`s just a way to suppress the vote, and that`s how they think they can win. They can`t win with the votes, so they try to limit the number of people who can vote.
VELSHI: Carol Glanville, thank you for joining us tonight. Carol Glanville is the Democratic Michigan state representative-elect. We appreciate your time.
GLANVILLE: Thank you so much.
VELSHI: Coming up next, the January 6th investigation interviewed Donald Trump, Jr. today. But that`s not actually the most intriguing thing we learned about the investigation. That`s next.
VELSHI: Today, the January 6 investigation interviewed one of its highest profile witnesses yet, the former president`s son, Donald Trump Jr. "Politico" reports, the interview was conducted voluntarily, without a subpoena, and lasted several hours.
No word on what was discussed, but investigators no doubt were interested in Don Jr.`s texts with Trump`s chief of staff, and, of course, in conversations he may have had with his father.
And here is one more piece of January six news you should know about. A few months ago, you may recall that this gentleman was arrested by federal agents, this is his mugshot there. His name is Stewart Rhodes, and he eye patch and all -- is the leader of a right-wing dressed up pseudo- paramilitary organization called the Oath Keepers.
He was arrested. He was charged with seditious conspiracy, a conspiracy against the United States government. Stewart Rhodes led a group of Oath Keepers to Washington on January 6. Now, several of those Oath Keepers arranged themselves in these military stack formations which formed a sort of spear for the actual breaking into the Capitol that day.
The indictment of Stewart Rhodes and the ten other Oath Keepers on charges including seditious conspiracy describes what they planned that day as the, quote, plot to oppose by force the 2020 lawful transfer of presidential power.
On the 6th of January, Oath Keepers who were not actively storming the capital were stationed with what they called quick reaction forces just outside of Washington, D.C., where they stockpiled weapons presumably ready to be able to access them on short notice and come in blazing, cavalry- esque.
Well, today, a new development in this case, one that may bring the Oath Keepers plot that day one step closer to President Trump and his inner circle. The leader of the North Carolina chapter of the Oath Keepers today pled guilty to that seditious conspiracy charge. He is now the third Oath Keeper to do so.
Mr. Wilson, that`s his name, he`s agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as part of his plea. He`s already told them about one alarming episode about which we previously did not know. William Todd Wilson says that about 5:00 p.m. on January 6th, he and Stewart Rhodes and other Oath Keepers left the Capitol and went to a nearby hotel. At the hotel, quote, Rhodes gathered Wilson and other co-conspirators inside of a private suite. Rhodes then called an individual over speakerphone.
Wilson heard Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power. This individual denied Rhodes request to speak directly with President Trump. After the call ended, Rhodes stated to the group, I just want to fight.
So the leader of this paramilitary group had a bunch of people stationed with stockpiles of weapons just outside Washington, D.C. tried to get in touch with President Trump to get some kind of go-ahead order I presume. He didn`t get through to the president but it certainly sounds from the court document like whoever was on the other end of that phone line had the ability to connect him with Donald Trump that day.
Who was Stewart Rhodes talking to? And if this was someone with direct access to President Trump, why did the leader of a paramilitary group have the person`s phone number in the first place?
It`s hard not to wonder what would have happened if Rhodes had reached President Trump that day.
We`ll be right back.
VELSHI: A steel plant in the hard-hit Ukrainian city of Mariupol remains a target of heavy Russian all tailoring today, ten weeks into Russia`s invasion. Russian state TV showed these pictures of thick smoke rising above the building or hundreds of civilian and Ukrainian soldiers have been under siege. A commander with the Azov battalion, the last Ukrainian fighters left in Mariupol, posted this video to Telegram saying that Russian forces had broken into the territory of the plant and, quote, there are heavy bloody battles.
Kremlin claims forces are not storming the plant, but suppressing attempts from so-called militants to fire from new positions.
Just a few hours ago, the International Red Cross and the United Nations announced that more than 300 civilians had arrived in Zaporizhzhia after a safe passage operation from Mariupol and surrounding areas. That follows the safe arrival of more than a hundred other evacuees yesterday. Buses brought the first group of evacuees who had been holed up in the steel plant in Mariupol with little food and water as Russian forces continue to batter that city.
"Washington Post" reported on the herculean effort that it took to get them to safety. Quote: When several dozen civilians finally stepped above ground on Friday to meet a U.N.-backed evacuation convoy, that first daylight in weeks felt like it was burning people`s eyes as the scene they witnessed sent some into shock.
For the most part, only women and children were able to join the evacuation effort as the Russians did not allow young men of fighting age to leave. At least three mothers interviewed by "Post" reporters said that they had ultimately had to make a choice, stay with their husbands or save their children.
"The Post" adds, the drive normally takes less than four hours but because of active shelling shooting and numerous Russian checkpoints along the way, it turned into a grinding 36-hour ordeal. When the buses arrived in Zaporizhzhia, the passengers looked shattered.
Joining us now from Dnipro, Ukraine, is the correspondent who wrote that report, Louisa Lovelock. Ms. Lovelock is the Baghdad bureau chief for "The Washington Post," but she`s been reporting on the ground in Ukraine for the past month.
Louisa, thank you for joining us. You have been speaking to some of these evacuees who really do appear to be reeling and they`ve been in a siege. They`ve endured uh the reality of devastation to their community outside the plant. What have you learned?
LOUISA LOVELUCK, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: When these buses pull in, the first thing that really strikes you is although you know they`ve waited for so long to get here, when they arrive they are exhausted. What strikes you is the silence, they sit there. They look out the window.
People often don`t move very much. They hug their kids. They pull their luggage towards them, and you can just see really on their faces the, you know, the depth of what they thought they`ve been through, often they find it quite difficult to even articulate.
And, of course, we as press are there to talk to them but these are people who need months potentially even years to get over what they`ve been through. And so the snippets that we`ve heard from them are deeply harrowing, but I suspect are only the tip of the iceberg.
VELSHI: And part of the problem as press is we`re not we`re not close to that. So we rely on information coming out of the area in Mariupol, and then when you meet these people, but it`s not just what they`ve been through, right? They`re still going through it. You report on the fact that in many cases, these are separated families. They have left -- they`ve made it -- what a choice to have to make, leave your spouse, your husband behind to save your children. That`s got to be devastating, and that can`t be something that they feel a great deal of relief about.
LOVELUCK: Exactly, and when you talk to people who have come out, you sort of and you try to understand a little bit about what`s happened and how they`re feeling, one of the big things that people often say is, listen, I don`t know how I`m feeling yet. They`re still very much in the throes of the trauma of what`s happening to them.
Women as you say have had to choose whether to stay with their husbands or to take their children out.
One of the families we were talking to said that one of the big signs that realized the men that she wrote that she had to take the children out, was that the children had almost got used to the situation inside. She had two kids, one was fourteen, one was ten. In the first month, they were shaking at night, they were crying a lot but in the second night, those conditions really got a lot worse as the bombardment was sending dust sort of swirling out through the through the ceiling and down so it hurt their breathing.
They were quiet. They were withdrawn and she was seeing them fade away day by day. So when the time came to make that decision, she had to say goodbye to her husband, get on that bus and leave. And the footage that we have seen since the bus left indicate that Russia has redoubled its effort to attack the plant and you know these people, once they got to the evacuation point and opened up their phones, because of course, often they`ve had no cell phone coverage, it`s the first time they`re actually learning in the outside world what`s really been happening above ground in the steel works we saw people watching the smoke in the air over the plant.
And I think it was really starting to sink in for the first time what they had left behind and indeed who they had left behind.
VELSHI: Louisa, we`ve been concentrating on eastern and southeastern Ukraine, where Russia has been focusing his attention. You`re in Dnipro. It`s a middle of the country basically, the Dnieper River divides Ukraine between east and west. We are hearing reports of air strikes a crowd around Dnipro. Have you have you seen or heard anything?
LOVELUCK: Well, yes, one of them was fairly close to our hotel last night. These strikes last night were one of an ongoing campaign of attacks to hit infrastructure, particularly railway infrastructure as the Russian forces try to cripple Ukrainian forces countrywide.
But I think, you know one thing that`s very important to understand about the railways is that yes, they move military equipment, yes, they move soldiers, but they also move fleeing civilians. We have been turning up to the railway stations almost daily recently to talk to railway workers about how they feel about basically working in a place that is a lifeline for fleeing civilians, but it`s also now one of the most dangerous places in Ukraine.
A couple of days ago, when we were there, there was an explosion over the - - over the railway station that we were at, and it was I think very telling what we saw the evacuation train was ready to go. There were hundreds of people on board. The railway workers scattered. They were terrified.
But on the train where you had the people who had been under shelling for weeks, they just sat. Again, they were silent. They stared through the window and you could see while the railway workers were very much in this sort of fresh phase of trauma. The people who`d come out of these places ready for evacuation were deep in the throes of it and which is still.
VESLHI: What a thing to get used to it, to be okay with the sound of shelling because it is a regular occurrence in your life.
Louisa, stay safe. Thank you very much for your reporting. Louisa Loveluck is the Baghdad bureau chief for "The Washington Post", based now in Ukraine, while this war is going on. Ms. Loveluck, we thank you for making time. It is the middle of the night now it`s almost five in the morning in Ukraine. Thank you.
Coming up next, why one woman who has spent her life bringing abortion care to women in red states isn`t giving up.
VELSHI: This is from "The New York Times", on August 4th, 1991. Quote, the one story clinic, women`s health care services, run by Doctor George R. Tiller, has become the lightning rod for the battle, end quote.
And what became known as the summer of mercy, thousands of members of an anti-abortion group called Operation Rescue, descended on the city of Wichita, for months, using their bodies to physically block access to abortion clinics, often lost screaming threats, and prayers, at the clinics workers, and their patience. Thousands of protesters were arrested, and it took a quarter of Wichita`s entire police force to control the crowds.
As "The New York Times" reported at the time, quote, the protesters say the confrontation here is the beginning of the fight that is building as the Supreme Court moves closer, they say, to overturning Roe v. Wade. The decision that legalized abortion, in 1973, end quote.
That was, also, the summer that our next guest, Julie Burkhart, starting working at that very abortion clinic, in Wichita, on a summer break from college.
Every other abortion clinic in Wichita had closed because of the continued harassment. But Women`s Health Care Services did not. Dr. George Tiller and Julie Burkhart kept it opened for nearly two more decades, despite it all.
And then on May 31, 2009, the only remaining abortion provider in the entire city of Wichita, Kansas, Dr. George Tiller was shot in the head and killed by an anti-abortion extremist. And for about four years after the murder of George Tiller, the four hundred thousand people of Wichita had no abortion providers between them.
Other doctors were understandably scared off by threats and harassment the women`s health care services clinic shut down. But in 2013, Julie Burkhart reopened it.
Because doctors didn`t feel comfortable living in Wichita given its violent history toward abortion providers, she flew them in. Burkhart later opened a second clinic in Oklahoma City, the first new abortion clinic in the state of Oklahoma in more than 40 years. Given her work over the years, it`s no wonder that Julie Burkhart has become a trusted voice on this show. Our producers visited her clinic in Wichita.
Now, Burkhart is the founder of a group called Wellspring Health Access that has plans to open another reproductive health care clinic in Casper, Wyoming, this summer, providing abortion services. Wyoming is one of the many states by the way that recently passed what`s known as a trigger law. It`s a law that would ban abortions in Wyoming automatically five days after the Supreme Court overturns, Roe v. Wade, which given the news this week could happen fairly soon.
Julie Burkhart has been on the front lines of the battle for reproductive health in this country and over again for more than 30 years. That`s where she finds herself once again.
Joining us now, Julie Burkhart, founder of the Wellspring Health Access, the former CEO of the Trust Women Foundation.
Julie, thank you so much for being with us.
This story means something very different to you than it does for many people. Obviously, it affects everybody differently, but you have literally been on the front lines. You worked with George Tiller who was violently murdered as part of this fight.
What`s going through your mind today and this week after seeing this draft Supreme Court opinion that overrules -- overturns Roe or will overturn Roe?
JULIE BURKHART, FOUNDER, WELLSPRING HEALTH ACCESS: Well, thank you, Ali, for having me on. I must say that when I looked at the draft opinion that came out and read the opinion, I can say that I was devastated as were all of us across this country who fight so hard for reproductive health care and who access reproductive health care. It was quite a gut punch.
But one thing that I feel that`s really important for us to remember in this time is that abortion is still legal and that we cannot let this derail and distract us from our work that`s right in front of us at this moment in time.
It was quite a horrific draft opinion um I couldn`t believe that I was reading it but it was right there uh on the pages.
VELSHI: We`ve spoken to a number of abortion services providers over the last couple of days and they`ve said recently and in recent months particularly in states that have been imposing restrictions or in states neighboring those who have imposed restrictions, they`ve switched some of their works not just from the provision of abortion services and counseling and health care but into logistics helping people figure out how to travel where to get the money from and things like that so it`s a step further than many of them have had to go recently.
You`re going yet further than that you have plans to continue to open a new clinic. Yes, absolutely and we are working to open this clinic in the state of Wyoming. We are very close to opening our doors. Wyoming has been an underserved state for many years and we are going to be there working with a couple of other providers in the state, but we will be adding procedural abortion care, as well as full spectrum reproductive health care, as well as gender affirming care as well.
We want to bring access to health care, equality in health care, namely abortion care in the state of Wyoming. So we`re moving full steam ahead.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about Oklahoma. The governor of Oklahoma just yesterday signed Oklahoma`s own trigger law which will allow like Texas, it will allow a private citizen to sue anyone who, quote, aids or abets a woman seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. How does -- how does that work for people like you? You would be considered someone who aids and abets an abortion in a place like Oklahoma.
BURKHART: Well, that`s correct and also it doesn`t end there. It has impacts on families, friends, colleagues. It puts people in a situation where they can`t be open and honest and it`s incredibly dangerous and harmful to people across this country, in the states where these might stand, for people who are trying to access reproductive health care. It`s - - I was incredibly disappointed but not surprised that Governor Stitt did sign that.
VELSHI: Julie Burkhart, thank you for your time tonight. Thank you for the time that you have given this important issue for more than three decades. Julie Burkhart is the founder of Wellspring Health Access. We appreciate you being with us.
And that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Reminder, Rachel is now here on Mondays. So, if you like to record the show, that`s produced by her staff, DVR "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW`. You will get that on Mondays. Also, set your DVR to record MSNBC PRIME. Rachel on Mondays, MSNBC PRIME, Tuesday through Friday.
Time now for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Lawrence, you brought us perspective last night, and Monday night, that was -- you know, that only you can bring. This story has so many facets to it, and everybody I talked to who`s involved in this fight, says it isn`t close to over. That they feel motivated this week. They feel re-energized to continue the fight, and they feel the reality of the draft decision is going to bring it home to a lot of people who did not think this was going to happen, or didn`t imagine that it could happen.