On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Oklahoma’s abortion law and its ripple effect
National correspondent Bill Keveney reports. Plus, a top U.N. official says a ceasefire won’t be easy in Ukraine, national correspondent Elizabeth Weise tells us we’re close to the point of no return on climate change, the Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and the first completely private mission to space is set to launch.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 8th of April 2022. Today, America’s changing abortion landscape, plus new climate worries, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- At least two people are dead after a shooting in Tel Aviv. The attacker from the occupied West Bank was killed in a shootout with police earlier today. It’s the fourth deadly attack in Israel by Palestinian assailants in less than three weeks and comes around the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadan last year eventually sparked the Gaza war.
- Three local officials in Shanghai have been fired over the recent response to a COVID-19 outbreak in China’s largest city. Residents have complained of harsh lockdown conditions leading to supply shortages.
- And Sungjae Im leads the Masters after day one. The South Korean golfer shot five under.
The Guttmacher Institute is a reproductive health and rights think tank based in New York. It estimates that 26 states home to 36 million women of reproductive age are likely to ban abortion in some way, if the Supreme Court rules against the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Roe v. Wade in 1973, prohibited states from banning abortions before viability, meaning at around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy. But until a possible overturn like that happens, states are starting to make their own laws on abortion, including most recently, Oklahoma. National Correspondent Bill Keveney chatted with Producer PJ Elliott about the law and its potential repercussions in other states.
It’s a near total ban on abortion. There’s no time limit like six weeks or 15 weeks as in other states. You couldn’t do it unless the mother’s life was in danger, and they have a specific definition for that. And one of the big things is that the person providing the abortion, the doctor, could be subject to up to a 10-year prison term for it, which is a pretty heavy penalty compared to in some other states.
So why are healthcare groups saying that this law is going to be the most cruel yet for women?
I think it’s because it doesn’t even have any timeframe. The Texas ban, there’s six weeks, which is about the time you get a fetal heartbeat. So, that gives you a little time. The Supreme Court is going to make a decision on a Mississippi bill that gives you about a 15-week window. All of these would either weaken, or if they’re held up, be seen as weakening or perhaps even overturning Roe versus Wade, because that was based on viability, which a lot of people are saying is about 23 or 24 weeks for the baby. So, any shortening of that. So since there’s only one very narrow exception, the people who pose it are saying that’s the harshest ban. The sponsor of it in Oklahoma legislature called it the strongest legislation. They’re kind of saying the same things from opposite perspectives.
Is this something that’s going to be sort of a domino effect that we could see in other states?
Yes. And it’s kind of a continuation of what’s a domino effect when states are setting their own policies. When Texas instituted its ban in September, a lot of women were going to surrounding states and Oklahoma got 45% of the Texans going out of state for an abortion. So, that’s almost half. What that’s done is a wait time at an Oklahoma clinic, went from two to three days to at least two weeks. So people had to wait longer, which can make a pregnancy more complicated. And then some people in Oklahoma were going to states like Kansas, where they could get an abortion faster. And if the Oklahoma ban takes effect, if it’s signed by the governor and it also has to go into effect in terms of there could be lawsuits against it, so that could hold it up. But if that went into effect, everybody from Texas, a bigger state in Oklahoma would then have to go to other states that are more receptive, like Colorado or New Mexico. So it does have a ripple or domino effect.
You can find Bill’s full story in today’s episode description.
Ukraine is warning that despite Russia’s military pullback from Kyiv and other cities in the north, the country remains vulnerable. That was the message from Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba yesterday in Brussels. The scene in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha is increasingly horrifying. Its mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said 320 civilians were confirmed dead as of yesterday, though officials expect that number to rise. The city was once home to 50,000 people. That number has now dwindled to just 4,000. The mayor also said that most victims died from gunshots, not from shelling. And some corpses were found with their hands tied. Investigators have previously said that some appeared to be shot at close range. The scene in the northern city of Chernihiv is one of mass destruction after Russian forces severely damaged infrastructure there. Viktiriia Veruha is a volunteer coordinating aid distribution.
It’s good days for right now. At last, we can bring food. So it’s still not safe place. It’s still, we have no electricity, but right now we at last can bring some food, some medicine, and it’s good news. And ever great people from Chernihiv, it’s also very important, because we don’t know what will be in future.
Six weeks after invading, Russian forces have failed to oust Ukraine’s central government, something Western countries said was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initial goal. Russia is now shifting its military attention to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, which has already been hit by frequent Russian shelling in recent weeks. And shelling has continued in the southern Mykolaiv and Kherson regions. The United Nations estimates, the war has displaced some 6.5 million people within Ukraine and another four million have left the country as refugees. As for the possibility of peace anytime soon, the UN’s Humanitarian Chief, Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths is in Kyiv this week. He told the AP yesterday that a ceasefire won’t be easy.
No, it’s difficult because this is a hot war. And the secretary general asked me to follow up possibilities of what he describes as humanitarian ceasefire for the whole country, “To end the carnage,” were his words. Obviously we all want that to happen, but as you know, you’re here, that’s not going to happen immediately.
What I’ve been trying to do both in Moscow and here today in Kyiv is look at ways in which we can build from local ceasefires, build confidence, get corridors to work, where they need to, build humanitarian assistance. Well, I think it’s not going to be easy because the two sides, as I know now from having been both in Moscow and Kyiv this week have very little trust in each other. What we’re trying to do to overcome that – and we’ve been trying to do it, by the way, for a few weeks – is to get the two sides together.
Optimism during peace talks last week has faded and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is accusing Ukraine of backtracking on proposals it made over Crimea and Ukraine’s military status.
Scientists say the world is dangerously close to tipping points of irreversible climate change. National Correspondent Elizabeth Weise has more on what’s keeping climate scientists up at night.
This UN panel that’s been meeting for five years and writing this report, I mean, this report is so dense, oh my goodness. It starts with footnotes. It’s serious science. What they’re saying is we have a lot of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now and we have not stopped adding more. We’re not increasing as fast as we used to, but we’re still adding lots more greenhouse gases. And the reality is that if we don’t stop now, like in the next couple of years, it’s like you start an avalanche. And once an avalanche starts, it’s really hard to stop. And they’re saying there are certain earth systems that are close to this tipping point. One guy described it to me it’s as if you had… You put a gold bar in one end of a scale, and then you started putting ounce, after ounce, after ounce in the other scale. And each time the temperature rises just a little bit, it doesn’t really affect things, it doesn’t really affect things, but a certain point, one of those ounces is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So there’s five things that scientists are worried about because they’re already seeing these things starting to teeter a bit. The first is that the Amazon rainforest could turn into a Savannah. We’re seeing the rainforest die off in places. And with fires, it might not grow back as rainforests. It would grow back as a Savannah. It’d start to look like Africa that is a much less biologically rich and carbon sink, and it’s much less biologically rich. And there’s a reason we call the Amazon rainforest, the ones of the planet.
We could lose the coral reefs because as the water warms, coral have a narrow band of temperature that they can survive in. If they start dying off, this is what you see, called coral bleaching. They account for a quarter of all marine species in the planet. If they die, those species don’t have a place to live.
The ice sheets melting. This is both the Antarctic and the Greenland ice sheets. There’s concern that they are already becoming a little unstable. If they melt entirely or even partially, we’ll start to see catastrophic sea level rises. We’re already seeing sea levels rise a little bit. I mean, we’re talking 11 feet, 23 feet, losing all the coastal cities in the world. The Atlantic circulation stops. This is hot water that comes up from the tropics. It runs along the north coast of Europe, gets up to the Arctic where it cools and it runs down the eastern US. And it goes in this big circle. It is crucial to keeping weather patterns. If we lose that, Europe gets much colder, we see much larger hurricanes, and it could really mess with fisheries that we depend upon.
The Senate has confirmed, Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
On this vote, the yeas are 53 and the nays are 47. And this nomination is confirmed.
That’s Vice-President Kamala Harris, who presided over the Senate for the vote. Jackson will be the 116th justice and the first Black woman ever to serve on the nation’s highest court. The Senate’s historic vote went 53 to 47. Every Democrat voted for her confirmation, but only three Republicans did so, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney. Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden in February, but as we talked about earlier this week on 5 Things, she’ll now have to wait months to take her seat on the bench until Associate Justice Stephen Breyer officially steps down.
Jackson’s confirmation will not change the ideological makeup of the court, where conservatives hold a six to three advantage. Though she will be the first federal public defender to sit on the High Court. And when she takes her seat, it’ll be the first time the court’s nine-member bench will include two Black justices and four female justices. Of the 115 justices in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history, 108 have been white men. Only five have been women, and three have been people of color. President Joe Biden tweeted after the vote, calling it a historic moment, something echoed by White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki.
The President’s outreach continued at this stage, calling senators in both parties early about his choice. Out of the gate, he proved he had chosen someone in the tradition by immediately getting endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and Judge Thomas Griffith followed by a procession of leading conservative legal minds and additional law enforcement organizations. As we’ve talked about in here a bit, she began her prep work immediately starting the day after she was announced and promised to meet with anyone who wanted to and honored it, meeting with 97 senators over the course of her consultations. She further displayed her work ethic, extraordinary credentials and character when she testified for over 20 hours and answered the most QFRs of any SCOTUS nominee ever.
Biden watched the results of the Senate vote with Jackson in the White House. He previously promised as a presidential candidate to nominate a Black woman to the High Court. During confirmation hearings, many Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee accused Jackson of being soft on crime, particularly pointing to what they said were two lenient sentences on child pornography cases.
Every single case, 100% of them, when prosecutors came before you with child pornography cases, you sentenced the defenders to a substantially below, not just the guidelines, which are way higher, but what the prosecutor asked for on average of these cases, 47.2% less.
That’s Republican Senator Ted Cruz. He said yesterday, “Based on her record, I believe she will prove to be the furthest left of any justice who has ever served on the Supreme Court.” But Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska senator who is one of three Republicans to support Jackson sees things differently. She said, “The confirmation of Judge Jackson is one that will help to ensure that the face of the United States Supreme Court is more representative of the American people.”
The first completely private trip to space is set to launch this morning. The mission to the International Space Station comes as part of a deal between NASA and Axiom Space. Axiom is a private company that’s building its own space station to host more researchers and eventually space tourists. Three paying customers and one former NASA astronaut will take flight on the 10-day journey, but they’re not the first private citizens to ever board the ISS. Since 2001, seven paying customers have visited the station, flying with Russians on Soyuz rockets.
The so-called AX-1 Mission is also not the first space flight to be funded privately. That was the SpaceX Inspiration4 orbital journey that launched last year paid for by billionaire Jared Isaacman. But AX-1 is the first privately funded mission of private astronauts conducted under an agreement between NASA and its commercial partners. And it’s seen as a potential first step toward building a commercial economy in space. Depending on the weather, launch is set for no earlier than 11:17 AM Eastern Time from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us on whatever your favorite podcast app is or wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the shownd I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism