U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Texas to effectively ban abortion in the state. St. John the Baptist Parish residents may be without power for up to a month or longer.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
1973 is when the United States Supreme Court guaranteed abortion rights nationwide. That, of course, is the landmark Roe versus Wade decision. That law blocked states, any state in the country from banning abortion. It said American women have a right under the United States Constitution to get an abortion if they want one. And that right can`t be infringed even if politicians in individual states feel differently.
After that ruling in 1973, the very first abortion clinic to open its doors in the great state of Texas was a clinic in the city of McAllen. McAllen is a small city on the very southern tip of Texas, right on the border of Mexico. The first abortion clinic in Texas opened there in 1973 and it served women in the Rio Grande Valley in that part of south Texas for decades.
Even as anti-abortion Republicans started to cement their control over the government in Texas and year after year they devised ever more creative and draconian ways to make abortion as hard and as dangerous to get as possible in Texas, that clinic in McAllen kept going. And Republicans really did keep passing more and more restrictive laws making it more impossible for clinics to stay open, making it more impossible for doctors to provide that service. In recent years Texas Republicans passed new abortion restrictions regularly, at least every two years with each new session of the Republican dominated state legislature.
And as a result of those restrictions, every couple of years more clinics in Texas would close. By the end of 2013, so 40 years after Roe, that one clinic in McAllen, Texas, was the last and only abortion clinic serving the entire Rio Grande valley in Texas. And I single out 2013 because thanks to the round of new restrictions that were enacted by Texas Republicans that year in 2013, that McAllen clinic finally after withstanding 40 years of restrictions, that McAllen clinic was no longer able to perform abortions.
And so thanks to that 2013 law passed you about Texas Republicans, the Rio Grande valley, an area the size of Connecticut with over a million Americans in it had no abortion providers at all.
That 2013 anti-abortion law in Texas is one that prompted something -- a political effort that got a lot of attention at the time. It was an 11-hour standing filibuster from Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis. With that one woman filibuster, she did manage to block that abortion bill for a short time.
But ultimately, Texas Republicans passed it. It was the most sweeping draconian restrictions on abortion access in the country. Again, this is back in 2013. And after that happened, seeing what effect that was having on clinics all over the beleaguered state of Texas, we sent a producer from our show down to McAllen, down to the whole women`s health clinic in McAllen, the last clinic serving that last vast area of Texas after blocked from performing abortions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY HAGSROM MILLER, FOUNDER, WHOLE WOMEN`S HEALTH: What you seen with the cumulative restrictions is in 2011, there were 44 facilities in Texas. In October of 2013, there were 44. So, right there with the sonogram bill two- day requirement, there was a reduction. Then in November of 2013 when HB 2 was in effect, it went to 22, right? That`s where we`re at right now.
We`re also seeing more and more women take matters into their own hands and, you know, this has been well publicized that people go over the border. They get medication to self induce abortion. And so, sometimes they`ll come to us afterward for an ultrasound to see if they`re still pregnant. Sometimes they`re actively bleeding so we refer them to where they can get a DNC.
We saw an increase of self induction in 2012, at the end of 2012, and then we see it even greater increase right now. It`s pretty much pre-Roe. And, you know, this is -- this is the conundrum that actually was just maddening for me, because the law didn`t do anything to prevent the need for abortion, right? And so we didn`t change the amount of women in the community who are still going to need the service. We just blocked their access to getting it safely, right? And so it`s just, you know, it`s obvious we`re going have a public health problem on our hands, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The law did not do anything to prevent the need for abortion. We didn`t change the amount of women in the community who are still going to need the service. We just blocked their access to getting it safely.
That was the situation -- this is seven years ago, this is March 2014. At that clinic in McAllen, Texas, that stood for 40 years.
The founder of Whole Women`s Health, Amy Hagstrom Miller, was telling us when we talked with her is that clinic she ran, the one that had been operating for decades, the very first abortion clinic to open in Texas after Roe versus Wade, it was shutting down. Because of those restrictions passed in 2013 by the Texas Republican dominated legislature. She was finally being forced to close the doors of that clinic.
When we spoke to Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Women`s Health in March of 2014, as she said, as of 2011, there had been 44 facilities in Texas providing abortion. By 2014, it wasn`t 44 anymore, it was half that, 22 clinics to operate in Texas. She told us she was in the process right then of closing two of the five clinics she ran including that one in McAllen.
By the end of that year, by the end of 2014, in the great state of Texas, a state of 30 million people, by the end of 2014, there were only eight clinics left in all Texas providing abortions. Can`t say didn`t see this coming, right?
Texas has been at the forefront of this for a long time. Wherever the anti- abortion movement is going in this country, you can be sure that Texas will get there first, passing new and inventive ways to block women from accessing abortion, no feeling at the court saying what must past muster, what not, tweaking the law again. That meant a two decade long roller coaster for health care providers in Texas at this point.
Clinics get shut down for weeks or months and then a court steps in and blocks whatever new Texas Republican law had led to that shutdown. Then thanks to that new court ruling, blocking that new law, then they can reopen. But with the uncertainty that, you know, when it`s going to happen again, when they come up with a new way to shut us down.
In Texas, providers are handed scripts that they have to read. Scripts written by Republican legislators that they are required by law to read to patients even if the doctor disagrees with them and thinks they`re giving the patient inaccurate information. Patients are forced to undergo a sonogram whether they want to or not, whether it is medically necessary or not, they must do it. A simple and safe procedure is turned by law into a two or three day or more than that odyssey for both providers and patients with new arcane deliberately expensive procedures mandated by the state government.
And then sometimes those burdensome requirements are struck down by the courts and providers and women that want this service, patients in Texas get some relief. Sometimes that happens.
In fact, that is what happened to that 2013 Texas law that brought Texas from 44 clinics down to 8, that law that shut down all these Texas clinics. That draconian restriction when it passed in 2013, it got struck down. The United States Supreme Court struck it down, took three years. But those restrictions were ultimately blocked by the highest court in the land.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Amy Hagstrom Miller has talked to us many times about the heartbreak of having to turn people away. Well, today, at the United States Supreme Court, she definitively won her case.
Ms. Miller, thanks very much for being with us. Congratulations on this ruling today.
MILLER: Thank you so much, Rachel. I have been looking forward to the day I get to talk to you about this for a few years.
MADDOW: Tell me what this means for your organization, clinics, what does the future look like?
MILLER: This is fantastic. I mean, on so many levels it`s a win. It shows that when you stand up to bully politicians, that you can win. That you can stand up to a government as powerful as the state of Texas. And we illustrated the harm and burden this law put forward for women all throughout the state of Texas. And we got relief not only for women in Texas but for many states across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was June 2016. Three years after that draconian Texas law had gone into effect, the one filibustered by Wendy Davis, the one that shuddered that clinic in McAllen and shuddered so many other clinics in the state, the one that left Texas with only eight clinics for of 30 million people. They passed that law in 2013, three years later the Supreme Court struck down most of that law, a 5-3 decision in the United States Supreme Court.
The rule that the premise of that law and it would protect women`s health by denying them access to abortion, the Supreme Court ruled that premise was basically a sham. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. He said in part, in that opinion, quote, we have found nothing in Texas`s record of evidence that shows that the new law advanced Texas` legitimate interests in protecting women`s health.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a concurrence of her own when she said, quote, laws like H.B. 2, the law in Texas at the time, laws like this that do little or nothing for health that they rather strewn impediments to abortion that cannot survive judicial inspection.
Thanks to that United States Supreme Court ruling in 2016, a bunch of Texas abortion clinics were able to stay open or reopen after having been shut. I can tell you that the Whole Women`s Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas, did reopen and it is open and offering services right now today.
But even on that day in 2016 when we talked to Ms. Hagstrom Miller, you could hear the elation with that win from her, even on that day when the Supreme Court issued that definitive ruling which was a victory for women who want that service in Texas and for the providers who are willing to provide it to them, even that day, there were ominous signs looming. I mentioned earlier that was a 5-3 decision. Wait, 5 plus 3 is eight. Are there nine justices in the Supreme Court? In this case, there were eight because Justice Antonin Scalia had died a few months before. And there was nobody on the court yet filling his seat, because Republicans and the United States Senate were at that point months into their unprecedented blockade of President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Republicans decided they would keep that Supreme Court seat vacancy in the hope that a Republican president would win the presidential election in 2016. Some Republicans said if a Republican didn`t win the election in 2016, they might just keep that seat on court vacant another few years anyway, however many years it took to get a Republican in the White House sow that a Republican appointed judge would hold that seat. They would do anything, they would break any rule or norm or precedent to get a conservative Republican appointed justice in that vacant seat, and honestly, to get an anti-abortion justice in that vacant seat.
And, of course, they didn`t have to hold that seat open for more than a year. Donald Trump won the election in 2016. And they let him fill that seat they held open for a year so as to deny President Obama the right to fill it. That was on the abortion and he got a seat and Trump got to replace Anthony Kennedy, one of the five justices who had voted to strike down that restrictive Texas anti-abortion law. Why did he retire when he retired?
Then in the final months of Trump`s presidency, he replaced at one of the five justices filling the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the one that written law is one in Texas cannot survive judicial inspection.
And as Donald Trump proceeded to fill the court with extremely conservative anti-abortion justices, after he explicitly promised that he would only appoint justices who would overturn Roe versus Wade, abortion providers and activists and even just concerned observers could see what was happening, right? People were raising the alarm that Roe versus Wade was in imminent danger.
The right to legal abortion in this country really was coming under threat. And some people didn`t believe it or they said they didn`t believe it. Republican senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said they were quite sure, they were convinced that all these Trump nominees to the Supreme Court certainly recognize Roe versus Wade as settled precedent. They would never mess with that. Let`s not be melodramatic. Legal abortion is safe in this country in a permanent way.
Well, here we are. You ever wondered where you`d be and what you`d be doing, what it would be like for you when Roe versus Wade came to an end in America and abortion started to be banned in America? Well, wherever you were today and whatever you were doing today and whatever it was like for you today, that`s your answer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MILLER: I`d like to take a moment to share with you all what the final hours of legal abortion care looks like in Texas last night. Whole Woman`s Health has staff and physicians providing abortions in Texas until 11:56 is the time we finished our last abortion in Ft. Worth last night. Our waiting rooms were filled with patients and their loved ones and all four of our clinics yesterday.
We had a physician who had worked with us for decades in tears as he tried to complete the abortions for all the folks who were waiting in our Ft. Worth waiting room. Marva Sadler who was our plaintiff in this case was on suit also in Ft. Worth working with our physician to see every single patient. She called me at 10:00 p.m., 27 patients left in the waiting room and both she and the doctor were crying and just asking me, what can we do? How can we be sure we can see all these folks? Keep in mind the anti- abortion protesters were outside this entire time, from the moment we opened up at 8:00 until we closed at midnight.
And once it got dark, they got giant shining lights and shined the lights on the parking lot. We were under surveillance. This is not abstract. This is real for our team.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Women`s Health describing the final hours of legal abortion care in Texas as of last night. They provide services to patients up until 11:56 p.m. The law went into effect in midnight. As of midnight last night, Roe versus Wade is now a dead letter. It`s inoperable in the state of Texas, at least.
The Whole Women`s Health is among the Texas reproductive health providers and advocates that pleaded with the Supreme Court to issue an emergency injunction last night to stop this new Texas law from taking effect, this new Texas law that makes abortion effectively illegal.
But the Supreme Court just didn`t respond. They did nothing. They sat silent, let the new Texas ban go into effect and in so doing as of right now, they essentially let the protections of Roe versus Wade come to an end.
The law in effect in Texas right now bans abortion after about six weeks, most women do not even know they`re pregnant before six weeks, something like 85 percent to 90 percent of abortions take place after six weeks. So, the Texas law in fact outlaws 85 to 90 percent abortions.
There is no exception for rape or incest. I know you`ve probably seen that today in reading or seeing the news about this, but what that means is a historic thing, it means a woman who is forcibly impregnated by a rapist, that woman will be forced to bear the rapist`s child against her will. See, because conservatives like small government and freedom, the thing that really sets this law apart, the thing that is actually designed to make it difficult to challenge in court is the sort of dystopian innovation that maybe only the state of Texas could come up with, since they`ve been working for 20 years now on finding constitutional work-arounds to make abortion expensive, unnecessarily dangerous, and unnecessarily hard to get.
They created this weird vigilante system whereby anybody in the country, any nut anywhere has standing automatically to sue anybody in Texas who abets a woman getting an abortion. They can use Texas courts to sue not only a doctor who does an abortion but anybody who works in any capacity at a clinic where an abortion is provided and anybody who drives you to the clinic for your appointment including a taxi driver or an Uber driver, rape counselor who advises you on your options, religious adviser, priest, somebody in your faith who talks with you about your decision.
Anybody who loans you money for the procedure, somebody who gives you a place to sleep in town in the town where your appointment is if the clinic is far away from your home and you have to travel for it. The way the law is written, a random person anywhere in the country with no connection to your abortion and having shown no injury from you having had an abortion, that person can sue anybody who not only assisted, abetted you getting the abortion, they could even sue somebody for intending to help someone getting an abortion. Intent is enough.
So what`s that mean? If you think this good thoughts about a woman`s chance of getting an abortion your in the bulls eye because you intend to maybe help her even if you don`t? That`s the way this law is enforced. It`s civil enforcement. They designed it this way to evade the federal court system, which would otherwise find that this was unconstitutional under the protections of Roe versus Wade.
It doesn`t just encouraged people to hunt down people getting abortions and suing everybody around them, it pays them to do it. If a person, again, any random person anywhere in the country brings one of these lawsuits and they win one of these lawsuits, again, could be against the Uber driver, the court in Texas will hit the person who was sued with a $10,000 penalty that they have to pay to the random person who sued them. Plus that person`s legal fees they have to pay.
It turns every anti-abortion zealot into a bounty hunter. It`s a risk free, get rich quick scheme for hunting women in Texas, and anybody who dares help them. And if a doctor or a clinic employee is the person gets sued, the state gets to use that as all the pretext they need to immediately shut that clinic down.
When Amy Hagstrom Miller described those anti-abortion protesters shining bright lights into the clinics last night, describing her staff as being under surveillance, that`s because of as of midnight, anti-abortion protesters no longer have to settle for just protesting and intimidating people.
They`re empowered by the state of Texas to seek out ostensible lawbreakers and take them to court and get paid 10 grand for it if they succeed and not have to pay anything if they don`t.
Today, the editorial board of the "Austin American Statesman" warned that Texans should be freaked out by this law regardless of their views on abortion. "The American Statesman" writing, the intimidation is the point, facing the prospect of costly and endless litigation, abortion providers who help women with this difficult decision will likely stand down, making abortion inaccessible for about 85 percent of the women seeking care. While abortion foes may be just fun with that outcome, we should worry about the legal blueprint that gets us here. Unable to outlaw a procedure that the courts say is protected, Texas lawmakers have instead blocked access by encouraging people to sue each other into oblivion. The state`s latest ban hands private citizens an extraordinary power to accomplish through extortion the shuttering of abortion service that lawmakers could not under the Constitution shut down themselves. Such a corruption of the law should unnerve every Texan.
And indeed, most Texans aren`t even in favor of the kind of drift against abortion laws that they have been experiencing over the past couple of decades, let alone the current essentially total ban that is now in effect. A University of Texas poll of Texas residents says something like a third, less than a third of Texas residents wanted Texas` abortion laws to become more strict. It doesn`t matter though. They`ve done it anyway.
And the U.S. Supreme Court`s continued silence on this law in Texas, you know, is unnerving for Texans right now but unnerving for everybody. Americans have been bracing for the Trump conservative Supreme Court to take up and perfect presumably overturn Roe versus Wade. But what we were expecting is a big case, right? A big national debate.
We thought it would be that Mississippi case they agreed to hear this fall most likely. That would at least mean oral arguments and reporters gather outside the court and a ruling and dissent and explanation. Instead, they just said nothing and let Texas have their way. As if constitutional rights here are just not implicated.
Is this really how it ends? Texas effectively outlaws abortion and the Supreme Court just says nothing, let it stand?
Joining us now is Amy Hagstrom Miller. She is the founder and CEO of Whole Women`s Health, an independent abortion provider with clinics in five states, including the state of Texas.
Ms. Hagstrom Miller, I know you have not slept. This has been an incredibly intense time. Thank you for making time to be here tonight.
MILLER: Thank you so much for your thorough coverage, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: Let me ask -- I know you said today that your clinics are all in compliance with the law. What does that mean? What can you still do for your patients?
MILLER: So today has been a rough day. All four of our Texas clinics are open. We can provide abortions only until the point of embryonic cardiac activity, which is usually about six weeks. We are providing ultra sounds for folks and providing counsel.
The vast majority of people who have come into our clinics today have had to be denied abortion care services. As you covered, the vast majority of people don`t know they`re pregnant before six weeks. And don`t access abortion especially in the state of Texas with all the restrictions you described, they are not able to even get to the clinic prior to the six week in pregnancy.
And so, today we did have folks come in who were providing ultra sounds and support. I mean, we had I think 55 patients on our schedule in Ft. Worth. And only five patients are able to be seen under the new restrictions in Texas.
MADDOW: What do you think is going to happen in the short term? I think about the 50 of those 55 patients you just mentioned that had clinic appointments in Ft. Worth. For those who are able or for those who may not be personally able but can be helped, will there effectively become some sort of pipeline that tries to move Texas women into other states where their rights are protected since in Texas they can`t access this service?
MILLER: So, Rachel, unfortunately, this is not first time we have experienced an abortion ban in the state of Texas. As you described, what happened to HB 2 in 2013 and 2014, and then very recently last year during the pandemic, Governor Abbott issued and executive order which virtually banned abortion in the state of Texas for more than three weeks. And what we see is the vast majority of people being forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.
Most people can`t travel out sued side of Texas. Our patients are primarily parents already. Almost 70 percent of our patients are parenting. They have multiple jobs. They`re juggling school, they`re juggling childcare and especially in the context of this pandemic, making a decision to travel out of state has multiple risks.
So what we`ve seen is wondering if we`ll be able to knock the law down and reopen, asking us to keep them on a call list, call immediately if we get an injunction, and we open the clinic at 5:00. I mean, it`s nuts, right? And then some people are able to travel out of state. And there is some incredible organizing happening across the state of Texas, in fact, all across the country, trying to raise money for abortion funds to support people, practically support networks o support people who are able to travel out of state for care.
And then another group of our patients are likely to try to self manage their abortion. And to take matters into their own hands and to try to care for themselves as really as pregnant people have done for centuries prior to the legalization of abortion in this country. And honestly, you know, what option has the state left people?
So these are the cut of things that we are talking to patients about. That we are hearing from our patients.
Another thing I just want to point out is that our staff are being really forced to be agents of the state here. Our staff are the folks who are put in the position of informing the public of this law and enforcing this law. And they are looking right into the eyes of these women and these pregnant folks as they do this and seeing their anguish and seeing their pain, and this is a staff that is there because they want to help people.
They`re highly trained medical professionals who are at the ready to provide the service and today they`re not allowed to. Yet, they have to deliver this news and sit with people as they reckon with being denied an abortion and try to figure out what the next steps are going to be.
MADDOW: Amy Hagstrom Miller is the founder and CEO of Whole Women`s Health which is an independent abortion provider in the state of Texas. Amy, we don`t know when we`re going to hear from the Supreme Court or what we`re going to hear from the Supreme Court. We don`t know what`s going to be the short term dissemination of this law, when things as -- things develop, we would love you to come back and keep us apprised what this means on the ground in Texas. We`ve got a lot more coverage on this tonight, including some of that organizing that you just discussed. But we would love to have you back in coming days.
MILLER: Thank you so much, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: All right. As Ms. Hagstrom Miller just mentioned there, she described some incredible organizing happening in Texas and around the country, raising money for abortion funds and for practical support for women who may have to now leave the gigantic state of Texas if they are able to get abortion care. There is a lot more to that side of the store you. The work to get over, under, and around this ban and all the others like it that are now sure to follow in succession, you know, from people running, you know, underground abortion access pipelines to the folks arranging transportation and practical support for women trying to get across state lines if need be -- the activist side of this, they`ve been preparing for this for a long time. Some of what they`ve been preparing to do is now as of today in effect.
That part of the story is going to blow your mind. And we`ve got more on that ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Even before today, a big chunk Texas was essentially a desert when it came to being able to safely access legal abortion services. Particularly for west Texans, people in the panhandle up north and the nearest abortion clinic can be 250 miles from where you live. That means a four or five hour drive if you have a car, maybe a plane ticket, taking off work, renting a hotel room, arranging childcare.
Texas Republicans made sure that abortion procedures in Texas can`t just happen in one day. They have to be a multiday affair. So multiply the cost to account for that as well.
There is an organization in Texas that was founded specifically to overcome that deliberate hurdle put in the face -- put in the way of women trying to access abortion services. It is called Fund Texas Choice. One of their employees described it in 2016 interview as saying, "I`m an abortion travel agent". They don`t pay for abortions themselves, they`re paying for women to get to where they need to get in order to access the service. She talked about wiring women gas money, wiring it because even though Venmo might be faster, a lot of the clients don`t have bank accounts. She talked about booking flights, booking bus tickets, booking hotel rooms, regularly studying Greyhound bus routes and book airline schedules.
For years now, Fund Texas Choice has done that kind of very granular personal logistical work to help Texas women get where they need to go, actually get to the few places in that state where they can still exercise their constitutional right to get an abortion if they needed one.
Up until now, only 30 percent of the clients of Fund Texas Choice needed to leave the state of Texas in order to get an abortion. As of today, with the United States Supreme Court allowing Texas to effectively ban the procedure in the state, that number is likely to go way, way up. And, of course, people who work for organizations like this who help women who are seeking this service, they`re in the absolute bulls eye in terms who have this new law targets.
The essentially offers $10,000 bounty to anybody in the country who wants to try to sue somebody who helps a woman access abortion services in the state of Texas if they end up getting an abortion past six weeks of gestation. In other words, the hurdles that organizations like this have to overcome just got 1,000 tombs higher overnight while they were 1,000 times more needed than ever.
Joining us now is Anna Rupani. She`s co-executive director of Fund Texas Choice.
Ms. Rupani, I really appreciate you being here. I know this is a difficult time.
ANNA RUPANI, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FUND TEXAS CHOICE: Hello.
MADDOW: What do you think will happen with this new law going into effect today? What will that effect in terms of your organization`s work?
RUPANI: We are here. We`re not leaving. The message is clear. We`re going to continue fighting and we`re going to continue doing the work.
But to be fair, the impact of this law is real. And we`ve already felt it today. We had a client cry because yesterday, she went for her sonogram, there was no cardiac fetal activity and today there was and she had to wait 24 hours because of the restrictive laws in Texas. And so, today, she was told she can`t get her abortion. Now she needs time to process that.
So we`re going to be here. We supported her getting to her clinic appointment yesterday. Getting there today and we will support her wherever she needs to go when she decides that she needs to get an abortion and work with the clinic to do so.
MADDOW: The way this law is structured, we`ve all sort of become fast mini experts on the way that Texas Republicans devised this so as to avoid what`s happened to all the other abortion bans they tried to pass and other Republican states tried to pass, trying to avoid federal court scrutiny and that seems to have worked in the short run so that Supreme Court allowed this to go into effect.
Understanding now legally worked in order to evade court scrutiny and avoid the protection of Roe is one thing. But the other side of it, the practical side is people that work to facilitate Texas women getting to their appointments, getting to the clinic, getting to a place they can access abortion services, the way this law is structured, it puts a bulls eye on you guys and anybody that helps in any way and makes you the targets of civil suits which will effectively be the wait this law is imposed.
How do you contend with that?
RUPANI: You know, we have done a lot of thinking ever since the law was passed. And we`ve talked to lawyers. We`ve talked -- we read the law our self.
Our understanding is that if you aid and abet someone getting an abortion in Texas, that`s where you`re really implicated. And so we intend to comply with the law. Does that mean someone can`t sue us if we help someone get across state lines to other states? No.
But we do believe we are going to win this fight long term and we do believe that, you know, we`re going -- we believe the work needs to be done. So here it may be that we will get sued. But we`re going to continue fighting. We`re going to continue being there for our clients and making sure that they know that Texans can get access even if that means they have to leave Texas.
And even though there is a possibility of lawsuits against us, because the reality is the cruelty is the point and they want to intimidate us. We`re here to say that we`re not going to be intimidated and we`re going to continue to fight so long as we can.
MADDOW: Anna, and just a big picture here. People looking at this from across the country right now, I think the assumption is that if this works in Texas, it`s worked for day one, that other Republican states will very quickly pass other laws like this and it may be neighboring states to Texas as well.
Is what you`re expecting to happen as long that`s holds that essentially there`s going to become maybe a nationally funded effort to spirit women out of states in which abortion is illegal, effectively you will legal like in Texas to have private donors around the country fund women leaving and going to states where their rights are still protected? That sounds like that`s -- I mean, I feel like I can see -- I imagined the move you about. This I never imagined it would be in my lifetime.
RUPANI: Yeah. I mean, just speaking from today, we have seen an increase in private donations and anonymous donations. I think that`s going to happen. I think folks are going to see this is a problem. They`re going to work to make sure that pregnant folks can leave the state so that they can get access. I don`t think that`s not a reality. I think that reality is we see it today.
And can I see it happening across the entire south? Yes. And I think that`s what is scary, right? Is that we could see this effectively banning abortion all across the south. Luckily there is organizations in Texas that are doing the work, grassroots work on the ground but then there is also organizations like this all across the nation that are here to support pregnant folks regardless of where they live and regardless of what they make, just to make sure that they can access the care they need and that it`s safe and operable.
MADDOW: Anna Rupani, co-executive director of Fund Texas Choice, which finds itself in remarkable cross hairs tonight -- thank you for helping us understand and please stay in touch with us in the days ahead. This is going to be a wild ride. Thank you.
RUPANI: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The two biggest cities in Louisiana, of course, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, directly between them lies St. John the Baptist Parish. The largest city in that parish is the city of Laplace, population 29,000. And you can see on this map here, you can see how we`re talking about here is squeezed right in between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
But this isn`t like out at the ends of the earth. This is not remote, hard to imagine far flung America.
Laplace is roughly 15 miles from the international airport in New Orleans. It`s a 40 minute drive from Tulane University. Laplace and the entirety of St. John the Baptist Parish have just been devastated by Hurricane Ida. "The Wall Street Journal" today describing LaPlace as a town destroyed by Ida. Roughly 800 people have been rescued so far in St. John the Baptist Parish. That accounts for about 80 percent all the rescues statewide in Louisiana. They`re under 10 feet of water in some places in St. John.
You may have heard that 11,000 homes and buzzes got power restored today in New Orleans. That`s true. That`s good. But nearly a million homes and businesses still don`t have power, including the entirety of St. John the Baptist Parish. The Parish president said it could be a month until the electricity comes back on.
Majority of the parish remains without running water. There is boil water advisory for the entire parish if you can get water. The parish remains under a curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. The situation in Laplace and St. John the Baptist Parish really is just dire and it doesn`t look like it`s getting better soon. It`s not just power and water and cell phone service that`s a problem, also emergency services.
Here is the headline from NBC. Quote: Trapped residents in Laplace, Louisiana, plead for aid. Please help me. People are being told they can`t be rescued for several hours.
The sheriff of St. John Parish did not mince words when he addressed people who might be considering trying to take advantage of the situation.
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MIKE TREGRE, SHERIFF, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, LA: For the criminal element, if you decide to come to St. John Parish, my jail is empty. And you`re going to be in there by yourself. We`re not having it.
Let me saw this: 911 connections are very scarce and very hard to come by. Most of the residents can`t call us which means they probably going to take matters into their own hands. You may be the one needing 911.
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MADDOW: My jail is empty. If you come here, to loot is what he`s saying, you may be the one needing 911. He went on to caution local residents against contractor fraud in addition to cautioning what he called the criminal element about not coming to St. John Parish right now.
Again, the damage across the whole state of Louisiana is bad, but St. John the Baptist Parish is under a significant amount of water even right now. The president of St. John Baptist Parish is going to join us live here next.
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JACLYN HOTARD, PRESIDENT, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, LA: This is going to be a marathon and not a sprint. This is going to be very difficult, worst disaster that we`ve all seen in St. John Parish, and it`s going to take a long time.
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MADDOW: Worst disaster we have seen in St. John Parish. That is according to parish president, Jaclyn Hotard, who sounded the alarm at that press conference yesterday. How are things in parish tonight?
Joining us now live is Jacqueline Hotard. She is the president of St. John the Baptist Parish.
President Hotard, I really appreciate you making time at such a difficult, difficult time for your parish. Thanks for being here tonight.
HOTARD: Thank you, Rachel, for having me.
MADDOW: Can you give us an update on the situation in your parish and with your residents right now?
HOTARD: Yes. And as you mentioned, it is a dire situation for our entire parish. Right now, we do have a little bit of good news that our utilities department has been able to slowly restore water in some parts of our parish. We are under a boil water advisory, however, I`d like to let residents know that you will see the pressure build a little bit and then you may lose a little bit while we get all of our infrastructure up and running.
We have set up point of distribution sites on both sides of our river where we`ve been distributing ice, MREs and water to our residents, over 1,300 groupings of those items. We also have FEMA that is going to begin going into our neighborhoods because we`ve been seriously challenged with communication, so individuals are not able to register for assistance. The American Red Cross is mobilizing 60 feeding sites in the neighborhoods that have been affected.
And so, we`re really seeing things ramp up very quickly, and it`s only been about 72 hours since the category 4 storm made landfall and stayed over St. John Parish for almost eight hours. So we`re hopeful and moving along.
MADDOW: How habited is the parish right now? How many do you expect evacuated before or God forbid trying to get out during the storm? How many people are in communities right now? Is there concern people may still need, 72 hours later, may still need rescuing from inside the parish?
HOTARD: We`ve had the fire department, the National Guard in all of our neighborhoods, rescuing people that needed to be rescued. And even some people once the conditions became so uncomfortable, there`s no electricity and no water, and obviously it`s very hot in south Louisiana, residents continue to ask to be rescued at that point, even though it was just rescuing from that uncomfortable situation.
I don`t have a good feel on how many residents are still in the parish because we`re still doing damage assessments. There were so many downed trees and power lines, full damage assessments have been a little difficult. But we do have some residents I`ve seen already gutting out their homes, putting tarps on their roofs. So they`re looking forward to getting back and building back and that is very reassuring.
MADDOW: You know, last night around this time we spoke with the Jefferson Parish director of emergency management and he told us a lot of the same things that you are describing right now.
But he said in pretty stark terms, as far as he`s concerned in Jefferson Parish, much of the parish is uninhabitable right now, and that while people want to get back, the devastation is so considerable, that it`s going to take a long time before anybody can think about restoration and rebuilding. Just have to put that to you in those same terms, do you feel like in St. John the Baptist Parish right now, you`re essentially in those same circumstances or do you feel you might be any better along?
HOTARD: No, we`re in the same circumstances. The biggest issue is electricity. I`ve met with our energy representatives. All of our substations in St. John Parish, energy substations, have been damaged. So before we can even begin to see electricity brought to homes, every substation has to be repaired. That is going to take a huge effort and that is going to take a large amount of time.
So without electricity, you can`t fully rebuild. So I would agree with that assessment. This is a long road ahead of us before we can get to some areas being habitable again.
MADDOW: Jaclyn Hotard, the president of St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, just a beautiful and beloved part of that state undergoing such trial and tribulation right now. Good luck to you and your team. Please stay in touch with us and let us and the country know what we need to know about this. Good luck to you.
HOTARD: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. The hits just keep on coming.
We`ll see you again tomorrow, which we expect to be a totally normal, calm news day where we`ll just do feel-good stories, right?
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORLD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.