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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5/5/22

Guests: Val Demings, Wendy Davis, Mary Ziegler, Cecile Richards

Summary

Republicans have a long history of lies and hypocrisy about abortion. Interview with Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). Republican senators are running away from the Supreme Court decision that they all claimed they wanted especially the Republican senators running for reelection. First lady Jill Biden`s reaction to the Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali.

And keep those yachts coming. That`s the kind of nice way to end the hour, to take a tour of the latest seized yacht.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: I thought we`d run out of that stuff after a while, I`m kind of fascinated by how many yachts there still are owned by Russian oligarchs, they`re giving us pretty to work with.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, they`re losing them pretty quickly. Thank you, Ali. Thank you.

Well, I`ve never been really enraged by a Supreme Court decision. I have disagreed with a Supreme Court. I have strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court. I have been disappointed by Supreme Court decisions.

But most of the time, I understood the legal reasoning on each side and believe the decision-making process was legitimate, most of the time. But not until this week have I ever felt when it is like to have a constitutional right revoked from all of us. And it is, first of all a feeling.

Before we get to the analysis of the decision, we feel the pain of the decision, and the agonies that the Supreme Court decision is going to inflict. I just want to have a word with the men of America, here. This is a constitutional right that belongs to all of us, that benefits all of us. We have a constitutional right to the services to help provide these services for our daughters, for our granddaughters, for our sisters, and for wives, for girlfriends.

We have that. We men have that constitutional right. And because we are being robbed of a constitutional right, it is impossible for some of us to mute the rage that theft deserves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): I would like to speak to America`s men for one minute. Imagine you do not have authority over your own body for ten months. Imagine if that decision-making would not be taken away even if you would die in childbirth. If even if you couldn`t decide who you are having child a child with, even if you couldn`t decide when you are having that child.

I don`t think a man in America could actually imagine not having control of his body, his bodily functions, what happens to him, and what life would be like for ten months. It is an outrage that we have five justices on the Supreme Court who lied -- lied in their confirmation hearings, in order to be confirmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Remember, it is men who create pregnancies. We create pregnancies through love, through lust, through impatience, sometimes, impulsively. We create pregnancies through assault, we create pregnancies through rape. Every one of those pregnancies is the responsibility of a man.

And the Supreme Court believes, now, that every one of those pregnancies, every one of them, should result in a birth. The Supreme Court wants to be the champion of rape dads. It wants to create a class of rape dads in America, because the Supreme Court is saying that there would be absolutely no exception to banning all abortion in America. No exception for rape, no exceptions for incest.

Supreme Court wants to create this new class of dads. The rape victims will have to suffer, and the Supreme Court is hoping what, when these rapists get out of prison, if they ever go to prison, they will then reconcile with the children and the girls they have raped.

That is the future this Supreme Court is imagining? Filling this country with rape dads?

[22:05:03]

They lied. That accusation has never been made with by a United States senator in the history of the United States Senate, in the history of the night of states Supreme Court. Senator Gillibrand was just saying the five members of the United States Supreme Court lied their way onto the Supreme Court. That has never been said before in the United States senate.

And they are not the only ones. The day after Roe versus Wade was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, Republican President Richard Nixon told White House counsel Chuck Olson what he really thought about abortion.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I mean there are times when abortions are necessary. I know that. You know, you have a black and a white.

CHARLES COLSON: Or rape.

NIXON: Or rape.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That is real Republican talk about abortion. A Republican president saying, of course, you should have abortions in cases of race, and, of course, you should have abortion in a case of a pregnancy involving sex between a black person and white person. That`s the kind of abortion that President Nixon thought was absolutely necessary. That was his word, necessary.

Republicans in Washington have spent decades lying about more things than they can keep track of. Remember that they lie about tax cuts for the rich, increasing revenue to the Treasury. They`ve always lied about that, no matter how many times it has proven to be a lie. And now they`ve gone all the way to lying about who won the presidential election.

What could ever stop them from lying about abortion? Lying about what they really think about abortion? I for one believe that every Republican member of the United States Senate who favors banning all abortions is an abject liar. They are all a version of Richard Nixon.

There is not a single Republican member of the United States Senate who would force a daughter or a granddaughter who was raped to have that baby. There is not a single member of the United States Senate who would force a daughter or a granddaughter who is impregnated by her high school boyfriend to have that baby. They all believe in an exception for rape or incest for themselves and their families.

There is no Republican senator with a 13 year old daughter or granddaughter who would force that girl to have a child. But they insist, they insist that any 13 year old girl in Mississippi or Texas, or many other states who cannot afford to travel, most have a baby at age 13, because they cannot afford to travel.

The Supreme Court only has the power to deny abortion services to women and girls who cannot afford to travel, to a safe haven state like California or Illinois or New York, or to a foreign country, when Republicans take over Congress and allow abortion in the entire country. Or, when the Supreme Court decides at every fetus has the full rights of personhood, and therefore abortion is murder in all 50 states.

Then, the travel will be more expensive. Canada will be the closest option. And still, no daughter or granddaughter of any Republican in the United States Senate will ever, now or in the future, ever be denied abortion services, because of the law of this land. They will buy their way out of that for their daughters or granddaughters.

John McCain ran into trouble talking about abortion, the first time he ran for president in 2000. It derailed his campaign, which was going very well at the time. Alison Mitchell of "The New York Times" reported on January 27th, 2000, under the headline. The question of abortion dogs McCain.

Quote, struggling to answer a hypothetical question, Senator John McCain said today that if his day in age daughter became pregnant, she would have the final decision on whether to have an abortion. He then backtracked and said, it would be a family decision. Mr. McCain said, I would discuss this issue with Cindy and Meghan, and this would be a private decision that we would share within our family.

Obviously, I would encourage her to know that baby would be brought up in a warm loving family. The final decision would be made by Meghan, with our advice and counsel, and I think that such a private manner.

Mr. McCain, who has said repeatedly that he is morally opposed to abortion, was then asked whether he had just articulated the position of the abortion rights movement, which argues that the procedure should not be outlawed but left up to the individual women. Mr. McCain became visibly irritated. I don`t think it`s the choice position to say that my daughter and my wife and I will discuss something, that is a family matter, that we have to decide, he said.

A short time later, Mr. McCain telephone reporters and said. I misspoke. When I believed I was saying, and intended to say, is this is a family decision.

[22:10:02]

The family decision will be made by the family, not by Meghan alone.

They are all pro-choice. There is no family decision to be made if there is no choice. John McCain was describing exactly what`s should happen in a loving family when a teenage daughter becomes pregnant. John McCain lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush, because George W. Bush got to have it both ways.

He got to claim that he was in favor of banning all abortions, with exceptions for rape and incest, and life of the mother, but the Republican platform that he ran called for banning all abortions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): The position, is you believe there`s an exception for rape, incest, and life of mother. But you want the platform that you`re supposed to be leading to have no exceptions.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I will, I will. The platform talks about -- it doesn`t talk about what specifically should be in the constitutional amendment.

Please let me finish. The platform speaks about a constitutional amendment. It doesn`t refer to how that constitutional amendment ought to be defined.

MCCAIN: Read the platform, it has no exceptions.

BUSH: John, I think we need to keep the platform the way it, is this is a plot pro-life party.

May I finish please? Please.

We need to be a pro-life party. We need to say, life is precious, and that is what our platform refers to, and that`s why we need to leave at the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And that man made Samuel Alito a Supreme Court justice. He didn`t believe all abortion should be banned, but he`s appointed a Supreme Court justice who believes exactly that, and written a draft opinion that will ban all abortions in many states immediately, and possibly lead eventually to a Supreme Court imposed ban on all abortions in all states.

Donald Trump appointed three of the Catholic school educated Supreme Court justices who are voting to revoke a constitutional right. Donald Trump was a big fan of that right before he became a Republican politician.

In 2004, on Howard Stern`s radio show, Donald Trump said, I have a great little daughter Tiffany, but, you know, at the time it was like excuse me, what happened? And I said, well, what are we going to do about this? She, Marla Maples, said, are you serious, is the most beautiful day of our lives. I said, oh great.

Howard Stern said, what do you mean we? Donald Trump said, do you want to get married? I said, do you want to get married?

So, when Donald Trump`s girlfriend told him that he was pregnant, he said excuse me what happened, and then he said what are we going to do about this? His girlfriend knew that he was asking about having an abortion, to which she then said, are you serious?

It goes without saying that anyone named Trump, or anyone related to Donald Trump will always have abortion rights in a private plane if necessary in order to exercise those rights. One of the most sanctimonious prosecutors of President Clinton`s impeachment trial, was Congressman Robert Barr of Georgia.

Rob Barr was on his third wife by the time he was standing in judgment of Bill Clinton. Bob Barr`s second wife released an affidavit the year after the affidavit, saying that Bob Barr paid for her to have an abortion in 1983, after they already had two children. She said that Congressman Barr drove her to the abortion clinic, and pick her up to bring her home. There is no reason to think that there aren`t more Republican members of the House and Senate who have paid for abortion services for their lives, or for women who were there having affairs with, for their daughters, for their granddaughters.

To force a raped 13-year-old girl, to force a raped 12-year-old girl to have a baby, to force a rave to child to give birth to a child, to force or to do that is barbaric. And every Republican senator knows that.

On page 66 of his draft opinion, Samuel Alito says that abortion is barbaric. He approvingly quotes the Mississippi law that issued in the case, calling abortion, quote, a barbaric practice. Mississippi legislature wants to force raped children in Mississippi to have children.

Samuel Alito holds to his traditional Catholic opinion that abortion is murder, but judges don`t like to make pronouncements like that themselves they can find someone else to quote, saying what they want to say. So Samuel Alito does that on page 17 of his drive to pinion, where he quotes Sir Edward Koch, saying in 17th century England that abortion is murder. But even Sir Edward Koch, sounds like a Roe v. Wade supporter, because he doesn`t believe abortion is murder until the fetus can be felt to be moving inside the womb.

[22:15:08]

And at the same time that Sir Edward Koch was thinking about where the line should be drawn on legal and illegal abortion, he was are also rewriting England`s laws against witchcraft, to strengthen those laws in 1604, to provide a death penalty for witches who, quote, invoke evil spirits.

Samuel Alito is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to take moral guidance from the man who believed in witches, and believed in putting them to death. Just as we did in this country throughout the 17th century, an era that Samuel Alito reveres in our legal history.

Samuel Alito and his clerks play amateur historian in their draft opinion, and their scholarship is shabby, and is biased, and in the case of Edward Koch, it is deranged. The lives of Samuel Alito did not stop in his confirmation hearing.

Leading off our discussion tonight, are Melissa Murray, professor of law New York University, and MSNBC legal analyst, and Cecile Richards, co-chair of the American Bridge 21st Century, and former president of Planned Parenthood.

Cecile, let me begin with you, and what you have experienced in how people are reacting out there now, women are reacting out there right now to the possibility that abortion will be closed down in their states within a matter of weeks.

CECILE RICHARDS, AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY: Sure, well, I can`t help but point out to that all the men you just referred to will never be pregnant. And that really underscores to me the whole hypocrisy of what we`re discussing. These are people who are never going to face unintended pregnancy, a troubled pregnancy, a dangerous pregnancy, making rules about our lives.

But putting that aside, as you can imagine right now, it is total chaos in America. In Texas, where of course abortion has been banned, basically, except for before six weeks for months now.

The stories that I`m hearing on the ground of white health care providers are dealing with our heartbreaking. Women who are trying or seeking to end a pregnancy, have never been on an airplane, who are piling their children and maybe their friend in a car, driving to Colorado, finding a place to stay overnight. A young woman who had just called clinic who in Spanish said she cannot leave the state because she would lose her job.

We know that these abortion restrictions and bans are falling hardest on people with low incomes, women with low incomes who have no other resources. You probably know this, but if Roe is in fact overturned, as we believe now it will be, the Texas law is going to get much, much worse. You are not going to be able to get any abortion in Texas if you are the victim of rape, if you are the victim of incest, if you have a medically complicated pregnancy, if you have a pregnancy where the fetus is -- has problems that are incompatible with life. It is now going to allow us to jail doctors for as long as life imprisonment.

So just begin to imagine, and I think the American people are beginning to imagine what it looks like when you are punishing women and you are jailing doctors. That is what the Republican Party has drawn out. That`s with their passing across the country. And if this decision holds, if this decision stands, 37 million women of childbearing age in this country will no longer have access to safe and legal abortion.

O`DONNELL: Professor Murray, Justice Sotomayor spoke about the stench that comes from the Supreme Court if it gets too politicized. The more I live with this opinion, the more that stench fills the room, and the more it becomes a political document. The legal reasoning in it just falls away the more you read it. That`s been my experience with it.

What is yours?

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think that`s right. As a matter of legal analysis, there are parts of the opinion that are absolutely incoherent, I will take one for example, Justice Alito`s fervent desire to sequester the question of abortion from other rights they`re also implicated, like the right to marriage, right to same sex marriage, interracial marriage and a right to contraception.

He argues that none of those things are affected by this decision, but that`s actually absolutely specious. If you go through that opinion, he says the only thing that separates abortion is not as unique because it destroys a life. That`s not something that is constitutional. There is no rooting in the constitution for distinguishing between rights and that way.

But it really boils down to is he`s telling us that it doesn`t affect the use of the rights.

[22:20:04]

But there is nothing in here that downs to guardrail other than his very facile assurances that this is going to be different. We know it`s not going to be different. This right undergirds, not only abortion, it undergirds safe sex marriage, it undergirds rights for LGBTQ people, it undergirds interracial marriage, and it undergirds contraception, and all of this is poised to fall. So, that`s one major, major incoherence.

Another is his failure to grapple with the post-Roe sex equality precedents of this court, that it made clear that women`s reproductive rights are essential to the question of their equal citizenship. He casually dismisses the notion of equal protection in this draft opinion, as though it is of no moment.

So again, it`s not surprising, you can`t overrule a 40 nine-year-old precedent giving women the right to choose if you are taking seriously the prospect of women`s equality.

O`DONNELL: And, Cecile, Bloomberg has done some reporting today on the economic picture in states that have abortion rights, and states have more restrictive abortion rights. It`s clearly a relevant part of strong economic development for a bunch of reasons, including poverty rates and increase the more you restrict abortion, because you are limiting young women especially in their 20s, who are getting most of the abortion services, you are limiting their ability in the workplace by forcing them to have babies that they would otherwise not have at that time in their lives.

And we all know, the Supreme Court only has the ability, and this is like public schools, the Supreme Court -- the government can make an impact on what happens within public schools, and have zero control over anything that happens in a private school classroom.

So, they can have no effect on the education of rich children, just like this government can have absolutely no effect on the reproductive rights of rich women.

RICHARDS: No. I mean, Lawrence, I think that`s what, you know, over these last 48 hours, as this is all been beginning to sink in. That to me is what is most alarming and heartbreaking, and, frankly, I know you started talking about how angry, or I`m angry because I feel like we`re now poised to lose an entire generation of women who are not going to have the opportunities to finish school, to have a family when they want to, maybe to go into a sports career, to get a graduate degree, to go into the workforce.

All of these things, we know there is a really good study by Brookings last year the completely correlated the right to say from legal abortion, the ability to plan when and if to have children, with the educational and economic advancement of women. And where those rights are taken way, and women immediately fall back.

And it`s not only on their economic participation, but it`s about their health and well-being. When abortion became safe and legal in this country, maternal mortality rates among black women dropped 30 to 40 percent. The health care outcomes that we are now going to see, and states that make abortion illegal are horrifying to imagine. And, of course, we also know that is a result of safe and legal abortion, children did better. Children in this country, poverty rates were reduced, children were able to finish school, children were able to be raised and actually support themselves.

All of this, it`s sort of like the professors saying. All of these pieces are going to come crumbling down if the Republican Party is successful and takes away the most fundamental right of women to make decisions about their own health care and their own body in their own future.

O`DONNELL: Cecile Richard and Professor Melissa Murray, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion tonight. Thank you.

RICHARDS: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Republican senators running for reelection are now officially running as fast as they can away from the illegal opinion overturning Roe versus Wade. Marco Rubio is one of those senators, and Representative Val Demings is running next to him for Senate.

Representative Val Demings joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:28:54]

O`DONNELL: Republican senators are running type caption text here Republican senators are running away from the Supreme Court decision that they all claim they wanted, especially the Republican senators running for reelection. Florida Senator Marco Rubio told "The Miami Herald", my stance on life is well-defined and unchanged, and then he didn`t say what his stance is.

Florida`s other Republican senator who has the job of trying to help Republicans win in all of the Senate campaigns this year is very afraid of the Supreme Court ruling. Senator Rick Scott said this, yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): There should be an exception for rape and incest. So, I think that`s where the American public is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Representative Val Demings of Florida. She`s a member of House Judiciary Committee and served as an impeachment manager in the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump. She is running for the United States Senate.

Representative Demings, there is Rick Scott saying, of course, and there should be an exception for rape and incest. And there`s a Supreme Court that he voted to confirm saying, no, there should not be any exceptions unless the states say there should be exceptions, and there are now many Republican controlled states saying, zero, no exceptions, including Mississippi in the case of the Supreme Court`s ruling.

[22:29:47]

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): You know, Lawrence, it`s good to be back with you.

And let me say this. It is absolutely unbelievable that we`re actually here. And you know, I just heard what Florida senator said. I certainly listen to what Marco Rubio says.

But we cannot listen simply to what Marco Rubio says. We have to look at what Marco Rubio does. And what we do know is Marco Rubio will say anything for political gain, and then do another. Marco Rubio is full throttle into his belief that a woman should not have the right to choose her own destiny. That she does not have the right to decide the most intimate, the most personal decisions around her life and her family. And Marco Rubio is on the record saying that he does not believe in any exception for rape, incest or the health of the woman.

Now look, Lawrence, I investigated sexual assaults. I investigated sexual abuse that gets children. That is simply appalling. It is ridiculous. And yes, Marco Rubio is trying to run as far away as he can from this conversation. But we`re going to make sure that he is not allowed to do that and show Florida exactly who they have as their senator.

O`DONNELL: The polling on this is very much against Marco Rubio. 60 percent of people in Florida are opposed to the Florida law that would effectively ban abortions after 15 weeks. No exceptions for rape and incest. Only 31 percent approving it.

So 60 percent agree with you on that in the state of Florida. Marco Rubio is not just up against you on this, he`s up against the voters of Florida.

DEMINGS: Well, it`s absolutely -- that`s absolutely correct, Lawrence, but I guess Marco Rubio has basically told the majority of Floridians to go to hell. And he is going to do what he wants to do.

Look, the bottom line is, we are not going to go away from this issue. Women in Florida -- and the polling also shows overwhelmingly that men and women, not just in Florida but across the nation, support a woman`s right to choose.

We`re going to continue to keep this fight going. We`re not going away. We are not sitting down. We`re not shutting up. Women deserve to make their own choices and not be treated like property and not be treated like second class citizens.

Look, I am committed to keeping this fight going. And I hope that those who are listening, they`re willing to invest in this campaign and support this campaign, ValDemings.com.

O`DONNELL: Representative Val Demings, candidate for Senate in Florida, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Wendy Davis was at the Texas state capitol today with Beto O`Rourke speaking against the Supreme Court draft decision on abortion. She will join us next along with her Professor Mary Ziegler who literally wrote the book on the history of abortion law. In fact, the books -- she has written several on the subject. That`s next.

[22:33:16]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Our next guest was at the Texas state Capitol today with Democratic candidate for governor, Beto O`Rourke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is not about life, this is about control. This is about power. It`s about controlling the lives of the women of Texas and taking power away from them.

WENDY DAVIS (D), FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Depending on how much privilege you have, how much money in your bank account, you will have different rights than other people in this country.

We live in a state and we find ourselves in a country with a Supreme Court that no longer believes that we are born with inherent, inalienable rights, liberties and freedom. But instead, that those are things that are granted to us by government and government alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And joining us now our legal historian and law professor Mary Ziegler. She is the author of the new book, "Dollars for Life: the Anti- Abortion Movement and the fall of the Republican Establishment". That will be out next month. Also, with us, Wendy Davis, former Texas state senator and founder of Deeds Not Words, a reproductive rights group in Texas.

And Professor Ziegler, let me begin with you. It was difficult for me as an amateur historian to be reading the amateur historians Samuel Alito and his clerks with what they have inserted in this Supreme Court opinion. There are things that I find in it that are shoddy scholarship. What is it like for you reading it.?

PROFESSOR MARY ZIEGLER, LAW PROFESSOR, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY: Kind of a similar experience. I mean I think there is a kind of weird talk going back and forth between policy and history in the draft that suggests that history really isn`t what`s being done.

In particular, I think there was a kind of whitewashing of the motives of the people who passed criminal abortion laws in the 19th century, a kind of heroic narrative about what these people were thinking that kind of ignore some of the racism and eugenic motives behind some of the original laws.

[22:39:52]

ZIEGLER: And there was a kind of cherry-picking or misreading about what some of the laws actually represented that made it seem as if there were so much more coherent story about how clearly and how consistently abortion was being criminalized at the time the 14th Amendment was written.

So I think a lot of historians found it to be problematic. I don`t think I`m alone in that.

O`DONNELL: And so much of the opinion hinges on this notion of something -- of these ideas being deeply rooted in our history.

Wendy Davis, what is happening in Texas? You were at the capitol today with Beto O`Rourke. People in Texas know with the trigger law there, that it could be just weeks away from abortion being banned in the state, in effect that it already is in many ways.

DAVIS: It literally could be Lawrence. And you know, we`ve already been dealing with the six-week ban here. And the tremendous logistical challenges of making sure that people who need abortion care are able to leave our state, to receive that care. And it`s only going to get worse.

And I know Texas joins a number of states around the country who are bracing for that and trying to create a kind of coordinated efforts in advance that are going to meet the logistical needs of people who are trying to access abortion in the states where it will still be allowed.

And the other thing that we`re working on now is just trying to help encourage people to understand that though we are a heavily re-districted, heavily gerrymandered state where our voices really have been neutered in district races, in our congressional and state house and state senate races, we also are a state where our voices matter very much in the upcoming state election where redistricting cannot touch us.

And just trying to get that message out loud and clear that we are going to meet the most immediate demands of people here on our state but that we also need to exercise our voices in the electoral process so that we can change the lawmakers who have fought very long and hard to bring us to the point where we are right now.

O`DONNELL: Professor Ziegler, we see 30 years of Supreme Court appointments that it took for this to happen. Clarence Thomas is one of the deciding voters on this appointment -- on this opinion.

And so there is a commitment in Republican politics to have played this very long game. And I never detected they were even slightly frustrated by not winning in the years that they didn`t win. And they just stayed with this and stayed with this relentlessly.

ZIEGLER: That`s right, and I think there are lessons for that now for progressives. I mean I will hear people say is there anything that can be done to stop the Supreme Court from reversing Roe? I mean, and the answer I think to that is no. But that wouldn`t nearly have changed things, of course, where antiabortion groups have been working to reverse Roe for nearly half a century now. And to have done everything from work to deregulate campaign spending, and kind of let loose the flow of dark money to align with the Republican Party to work on restrictions on voting to make it easier to control the Supreme Court and see the day that Roe v. Wade is one and potentially they`re hoping a day when there`s a nationwide ban on abortion either one passed through Congress or implemented by a conservative Supreme Court.

So I think progressives are committed to this causes. I think they are -- they will be willing to play the long game just as much.

O`DONNELL: Professor Mary Ziegler and Wendy Davis, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

DAVIS: Thank you.

ZIEGLER: Thanks for having us.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, First Lady Jill Biden`s reaction to the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion. Symone Sanders, who interviewed the first lady today, will join us next.

[22:43:49]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: MSNBC`s Symone Sanders got first lady Jill Biden`s reaction today to the Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYMONE SANDERS, MSNBC HOST: As a mother and as a grandmother, what would you say to young women right now, particularly young women who are upset about the possible erosion of their ability to make decision about their own bodies?

JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess the first thing I would say is that how shocking it was actually when we heard the news. And Joe and I got the call that, you know, it had been leaked.

But president matters, the election of the president matters because he`s the one who puts the justices on the court. But if this goes to a state level, our state legislatures are going to matter too. So people have to get involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You can watch that entire interview Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC on the debut of Symone Sanders new show called of course "SYMONE".

Symone Sanders joins us now. Congratulations on the big get with the first lady. This is a week unlike any other than any White House has gone through. No one obviously has ever had the leak of a Supreme Court opinion.

What does the first lady -- what could she tell you about how the White House is reacting to that?

[22:49:56]

SANDERS: So she talked about a little bit in that clip that you just saw that she was shocked. And she and the president got the news at the same time about the draft opinion. And I think context here is really important.

Dr. Biden has lived in a world both without the protections of Roe v. Wade and with the protections of Roe v. Wade. She is someone that over her career has championed, if you will, women`s rights.

I will note in the interview, she talks about how important her independence is to her. And I think that those comments juxtaposed with where women all across this country, especially young women, find themselves today is fascinating.

O`DONNELL: The profile, the economic profiles that we know about, and various demographic profiles of women who are receiving abortion services now, a majority of them 59 percent already have one child. 50 percent of them are living below the poverty line. So those women living below the poverty line with one child.

The idea that they could travel to some other state to obtain the services is next to impossible.

SANDERS: I mean that`s putting it mildly. I think, Lawrence, you know, I -- a couple of years ago, there was a tour that was developed. And it was called the "Rise up for Roe" tour. And it was talking about the need for people across the country to wake up, raise their voices, about the prospects of Roe being overturned with someone like Justice Kavanaugh or other folks on the court.

Well at the time, I remember being on that tour, and so many people told us that we were being hysterical. That it was never -- Roe settled law. And now we see in this leaked draft opinion and I read the entire opinion, Lawrence, and I encourage people to do so as well. It was 90 pages, but the actual opinion is only about 65.

And in there, Justice Alito talks about the difference between settled law, and law that is settled right. And I had never heard that before. You are absolutely right, it is poor women, it is middle class -- middle class women -- it is people who are working two or three jobs and still are struggling to put money in their pockets, to put food on the table to feed their families that will suffer from this.

Let`s just be very clear, abortions will still happen. The question is, will they be safe? And the answer is no. Will they be legal? And the answer if Roe is overturned is in many places across this country, no.

O`DONNELL: And the Supreme Court ruling only applies to women who cannot afford to travel. It only restricts their options, really. It makes it more difficult to have to travel to do this. But women with enough income to do that will be able to do it. And the Supreme Court seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that when they are ruling on are simply restricting the options for women who are low income.

SANDERS: Well, Lawrence, I would argue what the court is ruling on, actually, is opening the door to the criminalization of women who seek the health care they need, and if that health care is s an abortion, the people who aid those women. The doctors that administer the health care that those women need in the form of an abortion.

I was just reading just yesterday these stories about women who were told in the hospital, with their doctors that they need an abortion, but they lived in Texas. And the doctor could not administer one since that bill had been passed.

And he talked, the doctor had to talk to this patient, this woman and her husband, about their options. And their only option was to get on a plane and fly to somewhere else.

And that woman and her family, they had the means to do so. But to your point, everybody does not. So, this is just the beginning. This is not in fact the end of this conversation.

O`DONNELL: Symone, I`m going to be watching 4:00 on Sunday, the debut of your new show with that full Jill Biden interview. Saturday -- 4:00 Saturday, and also 4:00 on Sunday, right?

SANDERS: Yes, that`s right. We`ll see you guys there.

O`DONNELL: Ok. Thank you, Symone.

SANDERS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.

[22:54:16]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s special LAST WORD is a tribute and a thanks to Sterling Brown. No, not Sterling K. Brown who works for the NBC entertainment division on the great show "THIS IS US". Sterling Brown, who is the director of this program.

Sterling Brown has been directing the LAST WORD flawlessly for nine years. He is one of the voices in my ear as we do this show. He is flying this plane. He is managing everything that is necessary to deliver the show into your home. And he`s been doing that brilliantly for nine years.

I`ve gotten to the point where I do not know how to do this show without him, but I`m going to have to. Because he`s decided, as he`s getting on in years, getting all the way up to around 40, he has decided that getting out of work at 11 p.m. is just too much.

And so he`s going to move to the "JOY REID SHOW", get out of work at 8:00 p.m. Monday.

Sterling, Monday night, 8:00 p.m., you`re going to be able to go home. What are you going to do?

[22:59:58]

STERLING BROWN, MSNBC DIRECTOR: I`m going to probably go and practice some salsa. I`m going out dancing.

O`DONNELL: Wow. So there is going to be an actual life after work for Sterling Brown --

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: -- starting Monday night for the first time in nine years.

BROWN: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Wow, well deserved. Sterling, thank you very much -- can never thank you enough.

BROWN: Thank you. It`s an honor.

O`DONNELL: Anytime you want to drop by, we will be here.

Thank you, Sterling.

Sterling Brown gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.