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'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Date: October 18, 2014

Guest: Kent Sepkowitz, Frankie Edozien, Katy Roemer, Dr. Aletha Maybank,
Celia Fisher, Tai Beauchamp, Carmen Rita Wong, Michele Roberts

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, why did
dozens of 6`5" millionaires choose one extraordinary woman to lead them?
Plus how personhood to determine the midterm. And career, family and
frozen eggs in corporate America, but first, the biggest news of the week
is all about Ebola. Too bad we couldn`t say that six months ago.

Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris Perry. And this week, public health
officials have been scrambling to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in
the United States amid new questions and tightened security over lapses in
local and federal level preparedness to respond to the disease. On
Wednesday 29-year-old Amber Vinson who came the second nurse to be
diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan of
the Texas health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. Vinson received the
diagnosis just two days after she boarded a plane returning to Dallas from
Cleveland, where she was flown last Friday to prepare for her wedding,
including a visit to a bridal shop.

Federal health officials said on Wednesday that Vinson was already running
a slight fever on Monday and should not have boarded the plane in
Cleveland. But when Vinson who`d been self-monitoring and regularly
reporting the results to epidemiology teams, called the Centers for Disease
Control before her flight to report her 99.5 degree temperature, the CDC
did not advise her against getting on the plane. CDC director Thomas - Dr.
Thomas Frieden offered a very different opinion when he said the given
Vinson`s temperature reading and her close contact with Duncan, she should
not have traveled on a commercial airline.

After Vinson`s diagnosis this week, federal officials began working to
track down and interview all 132 people who were on the frontier airlines
flight Vinson took from Cleveland to Dallas. Although, Frieden said there
was an extremely low likelihood that anyone on the flight was exposed to
Ebola. But that search for people who may have come into contact with
Vinson was expanded after a CDC official made this announcement yesterday
about an update to her infection timeline.


that`s come through just recently would say that we can`t rule out the fact
that she might have had the start of her illness on Friday. So, the new -
this new information now is saying we need to go back now to the flight
that she took on Friday the 10TH, and include them in our investigation of


HARRIS-PERRY: Those potential contacts also now include people who visited
an Akron, Ohio, bridal store where Vincent was shopping with friends on
Saturday. On Wednesday she was flown to Emory University Hospital in
Atlanta. While Nina Pham, the first nurse to contract Ebola while treating
Duncan was flown to a National Institute of Health hospital in Bethesda,
Maryland, on Thursday. The hospitals are two of the four in the United
States that are especially equipped to handle Ebola infections. And before
leaving Dallas, Pham recorded this video from her hospital bed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re really proud of you. All right.

NINA PHAM: (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably - probably now.

PHAM: Do you need anything?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no crying. (INAUDIBLE). No crying.


HARRIS-PERRY: As authorities continue to try to determine exactly how the
two nurses were infected, Texas health officials have ordered any person
who entered Thomas Duncan`s room not to use any public transportation at
any time within the 21-day window during which the developing Ebola
infection is possible. This is the latest effort to contain the
possibility of the virus spreading at the Texas hospital where, as one
hospital official admitted during a congressional hearing this week, not
all of Duncan`s care had been properly handled.


DANIEL VARGA, TEXAS HEALTH RESOURCES: In our initial treatment of Mr.
Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we
made mistakes. We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of
Ebola, and we are deeply sorry.


HARRIS-PERRY: And earlier this week Dr. Frieden acknowledged that those
lapses in judgment included decisions that had been made by the CDC.


THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: I`ve thought often about it. I wish we had
put a team like this on the ground the day the patient - the first patient
was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection. But we will do
that from today onward with any case anywhere in the U.S.


HARRIS-PERRY: The admission of mistakes made in the federal response to
Ebola`s arrival in the United States, comes as President Obama seeks to
chart a course on the U.S.` response to the spread of the virus from this
point on. Yesterday the president named former vice presidential chief of
staff Ron Klain as Ebola czar. A position that would put Klain in charge
of efforts to address the Ebola threat and protect Americans from the
disease. But it is the president`s other decision on Ebola made Thursday,
an executive order allowing the deployment of the National Guard to West
Africa to fight the spread of the disease that is a reminder of the warning
issued by CDC Director Frieden at Thursday`s hearing on Capitol Hill.


FRIEDEN: One of the things I fear about Ebola is that it could spread more
widely in Africa. If this were to happen, it could become a threat to our
health system and the health care we give for a long time to come.


HARRIS-PERRY: It is a reminder that the Ebola virus does not respect
national boundaries. And the timeline of this epidemic did not begin with
its arrival in the United States. It was in March when the CDC first
reported 86 Ebola infections and 59 deaths in Guinea with additional
reports in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Let me just repeat that. It was in
March. Seven months later, the number of the dead has exploded. From that
first 59 to now more than 4,500. Since the first 86 Ebola infections
today, those total cases have surpassed 9,000 infections. It is a reminder
of why when you see your neighbor`s house on fire, you don`t just stand
there watching it burn, you run and grab the nearest hose and do whatever
you can to help put that fire out. For more on what the White House is
doing to put that fire out now, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen
Welker joins me now from Washington.

So, Kristen "The New York Times" is actually reporting this morning that
the president is frustrated and angry about how his own government has
handled the response to Ebola. What can you tell us about that?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, good morning. That is
consistent with my reporting based on my conversations here. President
Obama was angered by the government`s response. We know that.
Particularly in the meeting that he had with his top officials on
Wednesday. He expressed that anger at these mistakes and missteps that
have been made in terms of dealing with the first patient in Dallas. And
that is part of the reason why he felt it was necessary to appoint this so
called Ebola czar.

Melissa, he was getting pressure to do that from a lot of different angles.
One, there has been widespread public fear. To some extent not totally
justified. Of course, we know that Ebola is actually difficult to catch.
But there is a sense from the administration that they needed a point
person who could help to quell the fear that was really spreading
throughout the country, and then he was getting a lot of political pressure
as well, Melissa.

Democrats. Democratic sources telling me that they were concerned that the
criticism that the administration was getting for its handling of this
Ebola situation would make it more difficult for them to hold on to the
Senate. As you know, as we have been reporting now for weeks, for months,
the Democrats are in a tough fight to try to hold onto the Senate, and the
midterms are just around the corner. So, the president felt as though it
was necessary to have a point person on this, and that point person, Ron
Klain, someone who is no stranger to how the government works and how
Congress works. And that`s why President Obama felt as though he was the
right person.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to ask you a little bit more about Mr. Klain.
Because what I hear you saying is he`s no stranger to how government works.
But it`s also clear that part of what this Ebola czar, so called, is going
to need to do, is to quell that sense of public fear and panic and anxiety.
Is there something specific about Mr. Klain`s expertise or his experience
that we think will make him good at that task?

WELKER: Well, you`re right to point that out, Melissa. And as you know,
Republicans have been critical of this pick. They say, Mr. Klain doesn`t
have a background in health care, so why is he the right person. The
pushback from the White House is that President Obama wasn`t looking for an
expert in Ebola, necessary, but rather an implementation expert. This is
someone who has a background in law and in business. He is someone who
served as chief of staff to Vice President Biden, former vice president Al
Gore. He has strong relationships with Congress. So, his charge from the
president is to make sure that all of these different agencies get on the
same page. That you have Congress, the White House, as well as health
officials talking to each other so that they can get the correct
information out to the public. And also to hospitals all across the
country. Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Kristen Welker at the White House. Thank you this

WELKER: Thanks.

HARRIS-PERRY: Now I want to bring in my panel in New York, Joy Reid, host
of MSNBC`s the "The Reid Report." Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, who is infectious
disease specialist, deputy physician and chief at the Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center and contributor to the "Daily Beast." And Frankie
Edozien, who`s a journalist and director of the "Reporting Africa" program
at New York University`s journalism school. Thank you all for being here.


HARRIS-PERRY: Doctor, what do you think of this? So, I hear Kristen
Welker is telling us, well, this is about implementation. This is about
politics. But as a specialist in infectious disease, is that the right
person for our Ebola czar?

SEPKOWITZ: I think any person is going to be fine. I don`t think we
particularly need this for the public health response. I think this is
staged craft in politics and picking a politico to do it rather than
another doctor who talks like a doctor and sounds like a doctor and uses
terminology and approaches to the problem is probably a bad idea. So, I
think picking a political for a political problem, OK by me. I`m
disappointed that this is becoming not a public health issue but rather an
optics of how are we going to look issue? And you know, what`s it going to
mean to the Senate races?

HARRIS-PERRY: But on that, I mean I guess, you know, I fly every week. I
commute up here. Right. Yes, right. I commute here. And I keep saying,
we have these kind of back-up plans not because I think I`m at risk of
getting Ebola.


HARRIS-PERRY: But because I worry that public panic could suddenly set in
motion a set of things that could close airports or freak people out or
keep me from being able to get on a plane to get home to my family. And
so, I guess, part of what I`m wondering is so what makes us feel better?
Hearing from a doctor who sounds like a doctor? Even if we don`t quite
understand, or hearing from a political person who in certain ways we know
is optical? Let me ask you that, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REID REPORT": You know, I get the sense that
pick of Ron Klain indicates that he`s really there more not to calm the
public, but to calm Congress, right?


REID: Calm the politicians. Because he`s a good manager who is known to
everyone on the Hill. And he`ll make the Hill feel better. Because he`ll
say that all the trains are now running on time. I think that`s really
what he is there for. Because the person - and that suggests to me that
the person who`ll be communicating with the public will probably still wind
up being somebody like a Dr. Anthony Fauci, that you`re still going to have
the doctors, or that the president has decided that he`s going to be the
calming voice. Because you wouldn`t send Ron Klain up to do that. That`s
not even what he`s expert at. So, and also, you know what, the plain fact
is there is a function in our government that`s built in and it has been
for a few decades, whose job it is to communicate medical information to
the public. It`s called the surgeon general.


REID: Interesting that we don`t seem to have one. I wished I lived in a
world where we had one, but we don`t.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Wouldn`t that be pleasant? And then maybe we- maybe we
trust it in a bipartisan fashion. Hold for me a second. We`re going to
take a break. But when we come back, I want to ask you, because what has
happened as part of this panic in Congress, is this question of whether or
not we ought to shut off all the flights, close the borders, keep some
people out?


HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s have a travel ban. Now, I want to talk - lock those
people out. I want to talk to you about that as soon as we come back.



FRIEDEN: If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will
travel over land, will come from other places, we won`t be able to check
them for fever when they leave. We won`t be able to check them for fever
when they arrive. We won`t be able as we do currently to take a detailed
history to see if they`re exposed when they arrive. When they arrive, we
wouldn`t be able to impose quarantine, as we now can, if they have a high-
risk contact.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was CDC Director Tom Frieden at the House hearing on
Ebola on Thursday. And I`m thinking that he should probably always have
like a fancy drum beat behind him, you know, in part. But I`m wondering
then about this whole issue of a travel ban, which has now emerged as the
new discourse of panic about how to address Ebola in the U.S.

FRANKIE EDOZIEN, JOURNALIST: It`s unfortunate, but it really does not
relieve you anything. It might make you feel better if you say let`s keep
all the West Africans out. But then, what do you do about the problem,
which is stopping Ebola at its source? We all need to put boots on the
ground in Guinea as we have in Liberia and in Sierra Leone. What happens
to American workers who are there already? What happens to international
aid workers? What happens to the multiple of people who have dual
nationality, the economic community of West African states have opened
travel. So if you are Liberian, you can go to Nigeria. You can go
anywhere you want in West Africa without a visa. What if you do a travel
ban to those three countries and people go to Mali and get on a plane to
come here? I mean it`s just an absolute nightmare to try to do a travel
ban. It really doesn`t help.

REID: By the way, Thomas Eric Duncan came to the United States from
Belgium. He didn`t even come - There are no direct flights that can be set
enough - there are no direct flights from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the
infected West African countries into the United States. None. Zero.
People are flying in from Nigeria or they are flying in from Europe. So if
you would have a travel plan on all three of those countries, Thomas Eric
Duncan would still be here. And let`s also remember, there are eight
confirmed cases of Ebola that have been in the United States. One of them
was Thomas Eric Duncan. But four of them were Americans who came back into
the country infected. You can`t keep them out.

HARRIS-PERRY: And some we brought. Right? It`s a different thing.

REID: When we brought them back, the three missionaries and the camera man
who was - on NBC. They were taken immediately to a facility that knows how
to deal with Ebola and they were treated there. Thomas Eric Duncan was the
one case that we`ve seen out of the eight so far, that was primarily
treated in a hospital that had no experience treating a patient with Ebola.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so let me, I actually want to push a little bit on that
question of the experience in treating Ebola. Because part - you know,
part of what I hear is OK, what we need to do, is we need to go to West
Africa. But when we go, we. In the persons that are our soldiers, our now
National Guards because of the president`s new governing this week, are we
prepared to manage that crisis there? A new reporting saying that maybe
only four hours of training that soldiers have on the question of Ebola

SEPKOWITZ: I think that it`s not that hard to be trained.


SEPKOWITZ: I think four hours ain`t going to cut it. I think it`s going
to take longer than that to respect just what an invisible micro. We`re
talking about something that no one sees that you have to avoid. So
learning to respect that .

HARRIS-PERRY: But when you say - but when you say it`s not that hard to be
trained. The very first language we heard about Nina Pham, before we knew
sort of all the facts was, well, it is really hard to take the suit off and
maybe she failed in the CDC protocol on that.

SEPKOWITZ: Sure, but let`s shift over to the nuclear power industry. They
have incredible protocols. They know how to doff. Is the word, doffing,
doff thing. They know how to take stuff off. And they`ve trained
thousands of people how to do this. So, it`s not intellectually difficult.
It`s just very methodical. It`s not the way we do anything else. You
know, you can`t touch this glove until you touch that glove. And you can`t
touch this until you touch that. It`s just a matter of doing it 50, 100
times. So, it`s not that it`s a challenge. It`s just you have got to do
it, and do it, and do it. I don`t think you can learn it in four hours

HARRIS-PERRY: And right, because .

REID: And they were treating him for days before he was actually

SEPKOWITZ: That`s quite critical.

REID: Without any .

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And that`s exactly what we are - so as we come back,
there`s a Texas nurse risking her own career to speak out for others who
are risking their lives. What her story tells us about America`s response
to the Ebola crisis is next.


HARRIS-PERRY: The nearly 9,000 worldwide cases of Ebola infection also
include 427 health care workers. Because as we have seen over the month
that Ebola has ravaged West Africa, the people on the frontlines fighting
the virus are also among the most vulnerable to infection. That continues
to be true in the United States as two nurses became the first to be
infected when the virus crossed the U.S. borders. But now many U.S. nurses
are saying that they - as they worked to protect their patients from Ebola,
there`s been a failure to prepare and protect them. This week on the
"Today Show," Matt Lauer spoke with Brianna Agire, a nurse with the Dallas
hospital where the two nurses two treated Thomas Eric Duncan were infected.
And here`s what she had to say about the precautions and protocols of the
hospital after Duncan arrived.


asked several infectious disease nurses. I asked the CDC why, why would I
be wearing two pairs of gloves, three pairs of booties, a plastic suit
covering my entire body and then it leaves my neck hanging out this much so
that it could -- something can potentially go close to my mouth or nose.
When I started expressing that concern, the infectious disease nurse at
that time said we know, we know that that`s an issue. And our stance on
that is that we are taking tape and we are taking -- at that time it was
four or five pieces of tape, it`s one-inch tape, and we are closing that
gap in the suit.


HARRIS-PERRY: And some of those same concerns about the safety of
caregivers in the U.S. are being echoed by nurses at hospitals across the
country. Joining me now from San Francisco, California, is Katy Roemer.
Katie is on the board of directors for the California Nurses Association
and for the National Nurses Organizing Committee. So do you think that
there is something insufficient about the CDC protocols?

believe that. I mean all you have to do is look at what the CDC people are
wearing when they are transporting these patients and then what they`re
saying in their protocols. And it`s different, right? So we see their
protocols that require one thing and then earlier, you know, their
guidelines. Because it`s important to know that the CDC issues guidelines
and has no ability to enforce those guidelines in the hospitals in the
United States. And then you look at the CDC workers who might be
transporting patients and even the people who are transporting waste, and
they are in full hazmat gear with respiratory protection in place. And the
nurses in the United States are not being given that same equipment, when
we are most at risk in terms of treating these patients. The people that
get Ebola, the nurse in Spain, the two nurses here in the United States,
they`re the frontline health care workers, and they`re nurses. We want the
very highest standards and protocols in place before a patient walks into
the hospital and the training to be able to put that equipment on and off.
I heard one of your contributors say we need to be able to do it 50 to 100
times. We need that training to be able to do it 50 to 100 times. Because
right now that`s not what we`re getting.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me about why nurses in particular. I mean I
think, you know, obviously all of us who are primarily patients in the
health care system know that our interaction with nurses is quite different
than with doctors or surgeons. But I`m wondering sort of what is it about
nurses that make them uniquely vulnerable and also if you can talk to me a
little bit about whether or not custodial staff, orderly, those who are
maybe not contacting the patient, but contacting the fluids or the gear are
also expressing these concerns.

ROEMER: Yes. Nurses spend the time with the patients. So while a doctor
will come in and they will do, you know, a diagnosis, the people that spend
the very most time with the patients who are monitoring those patients,
providing the care, assessing how the patients are responding to care and
who would mobilize the team, should it need to be mobilized if the
patient`s condition changes, are registered nurses in the United States.
So we spend the most time with the patients and as a result have the most
risk of contracting any kind of communicable disease that our parent might
have. It just so happens that Ebola is a particularly deadly one. And so
it is different from other things. Because we require, you know, different
kinds of protections in order to be able to stay safe. Are other people
expressing concerns? They absolutely are expressing concern. The thing is
that depending on where you work, like if you work at Nebraska, who has
treated several of these patients, they are really limiting the number of
people who will access care. If you look at Dallas, they failed to do that
because they didn`t have plans in place to be able to deal with these
patients. And so many, many of the 70 people accessed the room where Mr.
Duncan was being treated and then therefore got exposed. If you plan ahead
of time and you know, put those plans in place and train to those plans,
you can avoid some of those things. I just want to say, too, we are really
reaping the not rewards of the austerity policies. We have defunded our
public health system here in the United States. And this is what happens.
The CDC has lost, you know, more than a billion dollars in funding since

And we have really not funded our health care infrastructure. And this is
what happens. Because now we`re not putting forth the resources ahead of
time. The nurses have been talking about this for months and asking for
very specific things to be put in place including that equipment and the
training to that equipment.


ROEMER: And we haven`t gotten it yet. We need to start listening to the
registered nurses in the United States of America who are saying what`s
happening. Brianna is national hero in this country for speaking out and
saying what`s happening so that we can then respond and put in place what
we need to put in place.

HARRIS-PERRY: Katie Roemer in San Francisco, thank you for drawing both
the narrow picture and the very big picture about what we are addressing

Up next, how Ebola may kill many who are never even infected.


HARRIS-PERRY: The catastrophic potential of the Ebola virus in West Africa
has expanded to include not only the direct threat of infection, but also
the possibility of indirectly creating a brand new crisis. Widespread
starvation. The U.S. agency that issues early warnings against famine
reported that in the number of Ebola cases - if the number of Ebola cases
reaches 200 to 250,000 by mid-January, large numbers of people in the three
worst impacted countries would face moderate to extreme food shortages.
The West African countries, hardest hit by Ebola, farmers who have
abandoned their land, skyrocketing food prices in quarantine areas and the
increasing scarcity of food could mean an unprecedented modern famine and
hundreds of thousands more lives lost. Is this potentially the greatest
sort of danger of the Ebola crisis?

EDOZIEN: Yes. Absolutely. That and, you know, hospitals not being able
to do anything else about Ebola. If people are hungry, and people are
hungry in this country as now, because they can get goods from one place to
the other. People are not farming anymore. And if you are, there are so
many roadblocks. So you can`t get your crops to places and people can`t
get things - and there`s a lot of hoarding going on. But people keep in -
what has been really good to hear is that the president of Ghana went to
Nigeria and got a big transport plane and got lots of food supplies. So
there is some movement on the ground. So, make sure that look, we have to
get food to these places. It`s all Ebola all the time. But the after
effects- if people cannot eat, we`re going to see a huge catastrophe on our
hands. I don`t think the region will fall into famine zone, but definitely
starvation zone is coming up pretty quickly.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, starvation zone, and the other piece of what you`ve said
there was other illnesses other than Ebola not being treated. So, does
this mean then that everything from sort of ordinary health crises, you
know, flu, but also malaria, HIV, like are those .

SEPKOWITZ: Pregnant women as well. There are very disturbing stories of
women who are afraid to go to the hospital .

HARRIS-PERRY: To give birth .

SEPKOWITZ: because you know what happens there. And so people are having
their babies at home. And there`s risk there. We actually saw this in the
U.S. during anthrax. When everybody and their dog were showing up in the
emergency room thinking they had anthrax and people with heart attacks,
people with real emergencies were shoved to the side. Even the U.S. health
care system got overwhelmed by - by worried, well. In the affected
countries you have very sick contagious people in the hospitals and well
people with real problems are scared to go there. So there`s already
collateral damage that`s substantial. And then famine is going to be the
next wave.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it feels also like, I mean part of it is the whole
complicated nature of this where Civil war and economic underdevelopment
and this trust and already a vulnerable health system contribute to the
crisis and the then the crisis contributes to those further problems. But
the only thing we respond to is the urgency of the crisis. Can we also
maintain a longer term structural relationship to these other issues?

REID: Well, I mean and there`s all of that. Because - the countries
nearby who want to try to seal off the borders between their country and
these three affected West African countries. So you are having essentially
an economic quarantine. It doesn`t just affect patients who might want to
go to Nigeria or go to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they, you
know, isolated and really put down the epidemic. But you also have
economic ties that are - you have got things as what seems femerable -
ephemer as soccer matches all being canceled. And the economic boost that
that normally brings in to country - a country like Guinea or a country
like Sierra Leone also going. But what really when I hear the numbers,
Melissa that you cited, what really is outrageous to me is if you think
about the fact that Ebola has existed and we`ve known about it since 1976.
The most people who`ve ever died from it were 298 people who died in that
epidemic. That was 88 percent of the people who got it. By the time that
more than 30 different discreet outbreaks happened around the world in
those 40 years, you had fewer than 298 people, in each of those. It just
got lower and lower to the point where you had a 50 percent survival rate.
How in the world we got to the point where 10,000 people were infected and
900,000 some odd people, you know, have died before the world .


HARRIS-PERRY: Is the answer because how in the world was where in the
world? I mean is the answer because it was in Africa? Or is that the
wrong way to think about it?

EDOZIEN: I think that`s part of it. I think that we, you know, people -
business people, mainly people in the United States think about these
countries as where to go and get start from. And that`s about it. Even
the political leadership doesn`t think much about it. You know, Guinea,
let`s go get bauxite or let`s go get, you know, tires for Firestone. But
that`s pretty much it. What really needed to happen way back in March, was
to have said we have a country that`s an American partner that has an
outbreak that we saw years ago that was problematic? What can we do there?
That did not happen. And France, which I, you know, believe shares a huge
part of the blame in this because Guinea is their colonial territory,
France really should have been the leader in saying we have a country
that`s problematic. Everybody come and help us. Now you have America
saying, France, where are you? Go to Guinea.


EDOZIEN: And stop the epidemic there, because we`re already in Liberia.
And the U.K. is already in Sierra Leone.

REID: And by the way, the first.

HARRIS-PERRY: Do you want - are you sticking around for us? We`ve got a
little bit more on this. Joy is sticking around. Thank you to Doctor Ken
Sepkowitz and also to Frankie Edozien. Up next, a letter from the family
of Thomas Eric Duncan and a scathing message for America`s health care


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been ten days since the first Ebola patient diagnosed
in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan passed away. This week Duncan`s nephew
wrote an open letter in the "Dallas Morning News. " He wrote "On Friday,
September 25th, 2014 my uncle, Thomas Eric Duncan went to Texas
Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. He had a high fever and stomach pains.
He told the nurse he had recently been in Liberia. But he was a man of
color with no health insurance and no means to pay for treatment. So
within hours he was released with some antibiotics and Tylenol. Thomas
Eric Duncan was the victim of a broken system."

Experts have said on this program and elsewhere that we should not be
worried about an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. One of the reasons is experts
believe the U.S. is safe is because unlike Liberia, we have a functioning
medical system of a wealthy developed nation, and that`s true. But as
Thomas Eric Duncan`s nephew is right, then his story should remind us that
America does not have one health care system, it has many. And whether you
get that world class medical care or any care at all depends on how much
money you make, whether you have health insurance, whether you are a United
States citizen, which state you live in, and your race.

Because even when you control for health insurance status, African-
Americans and Latinos receive a lower quality of care than do white
Americans. And while having health insurance is still essential to getting
decent medical care too many Americans don`t have it. And people without
insurance are more likely to report being in poor health. A 2009 Harvard
study estimated that 45,000 people died every year because they don`t have
health insurance.

And African-American and Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than white
Americans. Immigrants, legal and otherwise having uninsured way of 33
percent. And it`s not by some accident of history. In 1996 as part of
welfare reform, Congress made it harder for illegal immigrants to get
medical care. Now legal immigrants, the ones who followed all the rules
are not eligible for Medicaid or CHIP until they`ve been in the country for
at least five years. And remember this moment in September of 2009?
That`s Congressman Joe Wilson screaming "You lie" at President Obama during
an address to Congress about health care reform. Now, the president was
there to debunk myths about his health care proposal, particularly Sarah
Palin`s now infamous claim about death panels made just one month earlier.

But do you remember what exactly made Congressman Wilson shout at the
president of the United States in an unprecedented break in congressional


those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants.
This too is false. The reforms -- the reforms I am proposing would not
apply to those who are here illegally.



OBAMA: It`s not true.


HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama had to go before Congress and promise not to
give health insurance to 11 million people, and he kept that promise. Even
dreamers, immigrants who were brought here as children who have been
granted quasi-legal status cannot benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

We have two standards of care in this country. One for the well off and
insured and one for everybody else. Thomas Eric Duncan was one of the
everyone else who is a victim of a broken system. And when it comes to
contagious disease, if some of us are vulnerable, then all of us are



REP. TIM MURPHY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: This is the question American public is
asking, why are we still allowing folks to come over here. And why once
they are over here, there is no quarantine.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Congressman Tim Murphy. A Republican and chair of
the House Oversight Committee, speaking during a hearing Thursday on the
administration`s Ebola response. According to a tally by "The Hill"
newspaper, Murphy is one of at least 60 lawmakers who wants to ban all
travel to the United States from the Western African countries at the
center of the Ebola outbreak. Now some immigrants from West Africa are
reporting that they are feeling stigmatized as people assume they have the
deadly disease and keep their distance.

Nearly 574,000 immigrants living in the U.S. today were born in West
Africa. There are more than 71,000 West African immigrants in New York
City alone. And as I touched on previously, immigrants of any region are
among those with the least access to health care in this country.

Back at the table is MSNBC, host of "The Reid Report," Joy Reid, and
joining us now, Celia Fisher, director of the Center for Ethics, Education
at Fordham University and Dr.Aletha Maybank who is associate commissioner
and director for the Center of Health Equity at the New York City
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. And I understand, Dr. Maybank
that you have been in the West African communities here in New York having
conversations about exactly this topic.

DR. ALETHA MAYBANK, NYC HEALTH DEPT.: Absolutely, you know, a big part of
what could perpetuate Ebola in this country if it happens to come to New
York City especially is fear, miscommunication and misinformation. And so,
our job and our role is what`s really making sure that everybody, everybody
has access to accurate information. And so, we really thought it was
important that we took a step forward and reached out to all of our West
African communities across New York City. And we`ve made hundreds of phone
calls and e-mails and really got to get feedback from the sense of what is
really happening? What are your concerns? And how best can we help you as
the health department, and they`ve really helped us guide making the
materials that we have done and put out in public, whatever they are. And
so, it`s important that we have their voices, we uplift their voices and we
understand what is there. And the feedback that we`re getting as was
mentioned, is discrimination is mounting. We hear, you know, taxi drivers
who are saying they`re not able to pick up folks. People are not going
into their cars, which means and that has an economic impact as well.
Because now they don`t have business - and they`re saying they cannot send
this money back home to their family. So there`s a whole trickle effect.
And it`s imperative, that we really put out there, that this is a human
tragedy. It doesn`t have biases. It doesn`t have a pass for Ebola, and it
can affect us all.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, on the one hand, Ebola itself as a virus does not have
biases, obviously. But part of what I wanted to get to - is this idea that
that infectious disease helps to remind us that the biases that are already
preexisting in our system make all of us vulnerable. So, we can`t close
off participation of people in a global economy. People are going to go
back and forth. They`re going to visit their families. West Africa is a
part of the immigrant community here in the U.S. And yet if we have this
unfair health system, it does make all of us more vulnerable. Not so much
to Ebola, but to all of the crises.

psychologists have found, that when people`s mortality is threatened or
they feel that it is threatened. They tend to run back to their embedded
cultural communities and then use the other cultural community as a
scapegoat and to say things like, well, if only we stay away from them, we
will control this.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And that creates bias.

FISHER: Exactly. And as well as medical schools do not train health care
professionals how to really deal with the discrimination, poverty, and
other kinds of vulnerabilities that patients bring. And so you have this
kind of bias that runs through the medical profession that they may not
even be aware of. And whether or not Mr. Duncan was a victim of that, we
certainly know that that kind of prejudice reduces health care in this

HARRIS-PERRY: And I - thinking, I said I was with expert to sit here and
told me early on, don`t worry, Melissa. Because the reason that it`s
taking route in West Africa is because people don`t trust the health care
system. Because it doesn`t serve well. And I was like, hello! You know,
go to the delta in Mississippi. People don`t trust the health care because
it doesn`t serve them.

MAYBANK: And to that point, you know, we have a long standing history of
mistrust in the country towards the government, especially for communities
of colors because there`s a long standing history that`s well documented,
plenty of evidence. Folks written about it from the Institute of Medicine,
the medical apartheid that documents the history of exploitation of
communities of color in this country. And so it is a real fear and a real
mistrust of what can happen when you enter the system. And that`s where
especially in this situation where protocols has become very important.
Policies has become very important and training around them become very
important to ensure that there is equal treatment of people. Now granted,
we know there are people. So how they actually utilize the policies and
the training is one thing. But the best that we can do is making sure that
folks are trained.

HARRIS-PERRY: And when we talk about the optics and the politics earlier,
we just cannot get away from the optics and the racial politics that are
associated with the fact the only people in this, the only person to have
died in this country of Ebola is a West African black man and the two
nurses infected are both women of color.

REID: Yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: There`s an optic to that that undoubtedly could have some

REID: And it has impacted in the negative way, too, because there`s also
the urban legends that are going around on the .

HARRIS-PERRY: Of course.

REID: . essentially blaming Thomas Eric Duncan for lying his way into the
country, for bringing this pathogen, as if sort of the body of an African
is itself kind of a weapon that he`s using against us in so horrible way.
When in fact this was the man who did trust the system. He went to the
doctor and he had a fever. He was sent home with a 103 fever. That`s not
supposed to happen whether it`s the flu or whether it`s Ebola. That`s just
not supposed to happen. He was an uninsured person. That played into it.
So, was he treated in sort of in and out, sort of a catching release,
because he wasn`t insured? Have some Tylenol and go home? That also plays
a part in it. More than his being an African plays a part in it. It was
the time - to get him treated.

HARRIS-PERRY: And - but on the other hand, so I`m going to keep going back
and forth. There is a part of me that`s like, we don`t, you know, treat
people when you have a crisis and someone clearly presenting with - I just
went in a place where - on the other hand, I don`t want to quarantine every
West African immigrant who appears in the hospital with a flu.

FISHER: Well, and that`s the problem and the challenge - the ethical
challenge of public health. Because public health is there to protect the
community, not to protect individuals. And they have a challenge about
whether or not quarantining, which takes away the liberty of individuals
should be balanced by protecting a larger population. And another thing
is, in terms of the ban on air travel. There`s this naive assumption that
the germ itself causes the epidemic. Germs cause diseases, poverty and
lack of resources causes epidemics. And one of the problems is a ban is
going to accrue just those factors that are going to make an epidemic
become a pandemic.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Joy is going to be back in our next hour. Thank
you to Dr. Celia Fisher. Also to Doctor Aletha Maybank. And before we go
to break, I do want to update you on a story that we have covered
extensively here on MHP, the grand jury investigation into the August 9th
shooting, the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. So
according to "The New York Times," Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and
killed Brown has told investigators the 18-year-old reached for Wilson`s
gun during a struggle in the police car. Wilson reportedly says he was
pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life. But as "The Times" point
out, his account does not explain why after he emerged from the vehicle he
fired multiple times at Brown, who was unarmed. And Wilson`s testimony
contradicts several witnesses who say Brown appeared to be surrendering
with his hands up as he was hit with the fatal gunshots.

We will, of course, continue to follow this story as the investigation

Coming up next, tech companies who are covering the cost of employees who
want to delay their fertility. What it says about work and family and
corporate fortunes and the woman who says her past is living with the bones
of men who underestimated her. Man, I wish I would have been the one who
said that. More "Nerdland" at the top of the hour.


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. This week Apple
CEO Tim Cook was the man of the hour Thursday while at the unveiling
ceremony in California, the roll out of the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

The new versions are slimmed down versions of their predecessors. The Air
2 is thinner than a pencil, and both the Air 2 and Mini 3 come with ID
fingerprint technology and available in a new color, gold.

This comes just weeks after Apple`s successful introduction of the iPhone
6. The slim new gadgets were not the biggest story out of the tech world
this week.

These slim new toys, instead, it`s Apple`s announcement that it would
follow Facebook`s lead and start providing health insurance coverage up to
$20,000 for employees to retrieve and storing eggs for the purpose of
future fertility treatments.

Apple released this statement about the new policy. It reads, "We want to
empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for
their loved ones who raise their families."

So, is this good news? How any of us react to the fact that Apple and
Facebook are extending insurance coverage for reproductive technology
likely says more about us than it does about the policy itself.

Some of you who follow the show closely remember that I disappeared
suddenly back in February when my daughter was born. I say the departure
was sudden because, well, I was never pregnant. So it is reasonable some
were surprised when I went out on maternity leave.

As I shared back then, my husband and I were able to become parents of our
own biological child because we worked with a surrogate who carried our
embryo, an embryo conceived using my then 40-year-old eggs. I can tell you
a few things I know for sure.

Egg retrieval is neither easy nor painless. And when it comes to assisted
reproductive technologies, there are no promises and no sure things, but
you know what, after nearly 13 years of being a mom and eight months after
starting the journey all over again, I can assure you there are no
certainties for anyone when it comes to making and rearing a family.

What we do is that reproductive technology is very expensive and typically
available only to the most wealthy. But if we truly believe in
reproductive justice, it is important to protect access to birth control
and determination services so that women can choose when they don`t want to
have children.

And maybe we should also expand access to reproductive technologies so
women have options to explore when they decide that the time is right to
have a family. This new Apple policy may be a step in that direction, or I
could be totally, utterly wrong, and maybe the IT industry is telling women
you can`t have it all.

You better not try in your 20s. Give us your job. The best, most
productive years of your working life give them to us during the height of
your fertility and good luck figuring out work life balance in your 40s?
Is it one small step for justice or another pregnant pause in the
continuing struggle?

Joining me now, host of MSNBC`s "The Reid Report," Joy Reid and also columnist and CEO of Malcolm Productions, Carmen Rita Wong, and
style expert entrepreneur, Tai Beauchamp, who has her eggs frozen a couple
of years back and wrote about it for "Essence." Tell me about that.

TAI BEAUCHAMP, STYLE EXPERT: OK. Well, I was 35. I had always said if I
reached 35, didn`t have a partner, that I was going to freeze my eggs. I
had been saying this since my late 20s. And you know, it was a decision
that I made, that I knew it was going to be right for me because I want to
have my own biological children.

I also hope to adopt. But the reality is the health and the viability of
your eggs declines rapidly at 35. And me being the type "a" personality,
that I am, I said I would reach 35 and do it, and so I did.

PERRY: You said that. And you framed it initially saying because if I
make it to 35 and didn`t have a partner, or the partner you want to have
children with, and I keep thinking the language this week has all been
about our jobs, but in fact when you look at the evidence, the vast
majority of women who are delaying are delaying because of partnership.

CARMEN RITA WONG, CAFE.COM: I have the similar plan that you did. I had a
plan when I was 30 to set aside money, being the financial person that I
am. I was already planning to have -- to basically have either an adoption
fund or sperm donor.

And knowing that I may be a single parent having to sock away extra money
and all this sort of thing and actually have a sister right now who is
putting money into an adoption fund as well.

It really was about for me the same thing. Nobody wants to go it alone.
Now I find myself a divorced single parent, and I can assure you, I don`t
wish this on my worst enemy.

PERRY: This is the point. I was a single mom for many years, after being
married, having my own bio kid in the easiest way possible in your 20s.
The other criticism I`ve been hearing all week, Joy, well, is this is
giving women false hope. All of it`s false. You can do it all right and
still end up -- you can`t control it.

REID: It`s funny. I think this is a type A panel. I had a plan, too.

PERRY: And you purposely had them all.

REID: I did! I did it on purpose. I had a mother that died young. I
said I`m not going to have any kids in my 30s, period. Whatever kids I
have by 30, that`s it and if I don`t have any, I`m not going to have any.
I decided that`s it.

I`m going to only go up to 30 and unfortunately, I kept going and going and
going. I got three. But the thing is, as long as it`s a choice, I`m fine
with it. I also know friends who felt tremendous pressure coming out of
law school, getting a job, and feeling the subtle sense of you`re not going
to have a kid, are you?

And feeling the pressure that the job you want so badly doesn`t want you if
you want a children in the next 10, 15 years because they want your most
productive years. As long as it`s a choice I`m fine with it.

WONG: When I first got my show on CNBC, a partner network, a producer said
you`re not pregnant, are you? Like, within the first month. And they`re
not there anymore, but that pressure exists. I think we also put it on
ourselves. But the reality of the maternity penalty is real.

Meaning it`s going to cost you more throughout your life, and you`re going
to be less financially secure if you get pregnant and have a child as a
working mother before the age of 30 or 35.

So the longer you go, and if you can go until 35, that maternity penalty
could disappear because of the finances and the experience to be able to
snap back more quickly.

PERRY: So this is part of what has been distressing to me in the
reporting, it`s been reported as sort of, Apple and Facebook will pay for
you to freeze your eggs, but when we look at the other perks, Facebook is
also providing for fertility treatments, adoption fees.

They have $4,000 baby cash for male and female employees. Four months of
paid maternity leave, amen. They subsidized day care. They have company
nursing rooms. Apple fertility treatment adoption fees extended maternity
leave. This is in part about assisted reproductive technologies. But
doesn`t that feel -- I mean, it`s the whole piece of it.

BEAUCHAMP: I actually have a problem with the word perk. I think that
obviously being a part of the media I know how we can do sometimes
sensationalizing things. But it`s not a perk. It`s a benefit.

Quite frankly, we want companies. We want, you know, corporations to
provide benefits for their employees. It`s a benefit. And it`s something
we choose and elect to do it or we don`t.

PERRY: And is this the other part of reproductive technology? And we do
talk about the language as a pro-choice. It`s only relevant within having
the resources to do so. And the fact is that for most people reproductive
technologies are so overwhelmingly expensive that there is no choice.

REID: Exactly. And these are -- let`s be real. They`re higher paying
jobs. This is an industry that needs to do something to correct the image
of not exactly being promoting women success. Only about 10 percent to 20
percent of the tech industry in those tech jobs are women.

Half are in administrative jobs and et cetera. You think of women outside
of this realm of the relatively high paying jobs. That kind of benefit
just isn`t available.

PERRY: And that`s why I call it a perk.

WONG: But I`ll tell you why. What I have always covered are folks who
don`t have access to benefits and who more and more so, that is the trend,
to not have access to benefits and health care. So when something is
beyond health insurance, that seems like a big deal.

They also have day care and massage. So where is the line? It`s not that
I`m being negative about that it`s there, but it is not the norm. It`s not
what most employers go for.

PERRY: I want to talk more about how we make the decisions, what
constitutes choice and whether we could imagine this going from perk to a
basic coverage, for example, when we come back.


PERRY: Our panel has been discussing one of the most talked about stories
of the week, the decision by Apple and Facebook to cover up to $20,000
worth of costs for employees or their spouses and partners to freeze their
eggs. It`s part of a push to increase the number of women in the high-tech

Some say by giving them the option of concentrating on their career,
putting their biological clock on hold. It`s important to remember there
are no guarantees in the science of delayed fertility.

Joining the panel now is MSNBC national reporter, Erin Carmon. This is the
other side of the reproductive justice story. If we`re going to talk about
termination of birth control and coverage for those things, the other thing
is access to assisted reproductive technologies.

I`m wondering in part, specifically like for women in color in part because
we know if you decide to enter into the egg market. There`s an egg market
out there. It`s true.

It`s very hard to find biological material of people of color. They`re
much less likely to be in the market. So there`s a lot of reason for women
of color in particular who want to preserve their own genetic material.

IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: I think inside adoption and
fertility markets there are a lot of ugly realities that reflect our
overall structure. That`s true across the board and with the ability to
adopt and with the ability to access these kinds of services.

But anything that makes it a little bit less pressured, a little less
stressed. I mean, I think for women of color in particular, but women in
general there`s so much pressure to be perfect and to do everything right.
The conversation that we`ve been having has been all about if I can just
get the timing right, everything will be OK.

PERRY: And that`s not true.

CARMON: I remember the first conversation that I had with my friends,
women across cultures about fertility. We were 18 and in college. What if
I can`t get pregnant when I`m 40? I think taking the pressure off a little
bit to say you have to do everything right at the right time, I think it
would really go a long way.

And as important as the conversation we had this week, and as important as
it is to have frank conversations about fertility, I think everybody needs
to chill out just a little bit.

REID: And the reality is having children in your 20s, I don`t think it`s
true for everyone, but it does delay your career. It definitely delayed
mine. It has implications and it`s expensive. Not just having the child
and paying for the hospitalization. God forbid if you don`t have insurance
for a medical bill but day care.

I became a freelancer because I had my third child. It didn`t make sense
to fork up that much money for day care so you have to make different
decisions about how you work whether or not you try to change your career.

WONG: That`s the biggest cost. That`s what I write about. I love
supporting women and supporting potential people.


WONG: I want more support for actual people. The little people we bring
forth. I work for myself in going back to TV going full time because I
ended up a single parent and my child needed me. I had to be with her. I
made that choice. It was that tough choice.

Thankfully I could because I delayed having her until I was 36. But child
care is absolutely not a perk. That is essential. We talk so much about
fertility issue and creating children and especially talking about certain
politics, about preserving life and nobody wants to take care of the lives
that come out. Where is the structure there for that?

BEUACHAMP: But I think there`s one critical piece that we`re missing. And
talking to a lot of men tees about at 27, 28, is the same way we invest and
plan our careers, we have to invest in developing relationships that will
yield the families that we want.

We talk about relationships materializing, children materializing. Nothing
materializes. It takes investment. The same way that you`re planning out
your career, you need to invest in dating if you want a partner. You need
to figure out those things as well.

PERRY: I also say, and this maybe goes to your chill out point. There are
aspects of it simply not in our control. So I had the first baby at 28. I
got pregnant in like a week because heck, I was 28.

And I was in a point of my career, pre-tenure, and as much as it worked
out, that marriage dissolved. So I had what I thought was a partner, then
I had a baby at 40 and I had to jack up -- and Ursula.


PERRY: They had to do all this work to produce eggs in their 40s. They
were tired as a result. It`s been easier in some ways because I have a
partner in so many ways willing to sacrifice the work of his own career.
So part of it is partnership and love.

But part of it is like my husband is like, all right, well, if one of us
have to take the baby to the meeting, I`ll take the baby. You`re on live

REID: That is critical and where do you find the right person? I didn`t
invest in that. I happen to find the right person. Not only that, but who
would tolerate me having to be the Betty freelancer. I can`t afford this
day care. I`m going to stay home and you have to have the flexibility. So
the partnership is important. If you don`t have a partner, you also need

PERRY: The policies that allow all of that to be possible.

CARMON: I think the irony of some of these tech companies that we`ve been
talking about is when I talk to my friends that work for big tech
companies, they say this is a great place for women to work. On one hand
you have the paradox they want them to stay on campus forever, and there`s
pressure of always being in touch.

But on the other hand they have so much freaking money, and they have so
many benefits. And they help you get your errands done while you`re there.
The trade-off is a lot of these employers might need to, because they need
to keep women there, and they need to keep people there, that they might be
good places to help out.

PERRY: I would back up in the final causality even further and say all of
those choices that I made, from having the baby at 28 and so on were all
related to my income and my health insurance. And that was all the related
to the facts there were affirmative action policies that provided me with
the capacity go to college and not come out with an enormous amount of

If I had still been paying $200,000 worth of student loans and I wasn`t
because there were aggressive efforts to take working class students of
color and provide them at one times. And like all of those things are

We can see that freezing egg policy as part of it. But in fact, all the
way back to head start and to college access. That is all part of the
freedom of choice question.

REID: And we`re saying we want a society where women have mobility. It
has to this go back to support for that woman`s mom and then support for
day care so she can be educated and for her to get a head start, for her to
have access to college.

College is incredibly expensive, which is why we don`t have universal
college matriculation in this country. Not as high as other countries. I
don`t know how we have enough women qualified to work --

PERRY: Are the little eggs still frozen?

BEAUCHAMP: I just froze the eggs literally a year ago. I`m paying storage
on them. So my parents say that my grandkids are collecting rent, which is
fine. I`m renting the surrogate. I have ten eggs on ice. They retrieved
12. I did one cycle.

I`m an entrepreneur. So I have been grateful for a benefit of someone
helping me to bill of the $13,500 to do this, absolutely. But again, I
made a decision that I wanted to do this. And it was a choice that I made.

So when you think about Apple and Facebook, one of the things that I think
is great if you are not the 22-year-old going to work at Apple, but you`re
the 34-year-old who says I have been here working at Apple. This is a
benefit I want to take advantage of.

PERRY: If you ever file the little ties, let us know. We`ll get them a
very fashionable nerd land --

BEAUCHAMP: I love it.

PERRY: Well, most of the panel is going to stick around. Not just people
will determine the midterm elections, but potentially persons will
determine the midterm elections.


PERRY: For months now this program, we`ve been telling you the story of
people in Texas that provide reproductive care for women. A state law
passed last year targeted clinics like this one in McAllen, Texas.

Clinics were forced to close requirements where admitting privileges and
ambulatory surgical centers. One court after another weighed in. Clinics
closed, reopened and closed again throughout the legal process.

And then this week abortion providers across Texas began seeing patients
again after the Supreme Court issued a stay late Tuesday on a decision that
would have permanently closed all but eight clinics in the state.

The reprieve is temporary and affects 13 clinics. Those providers must
convince the conservative leaning Fifth Court of Appeals to rule in their
favor. Arguments are likely to be heard in December, and chances are one
side or the other will appeal the case back to the Supreme Court.

For now advocates for reproductive rights are enjoying a minor victory.
Soon to come, however, are even bigger challenges. On November 4th in
addition to choosing 36 state governors, about a third of the U.S. senate
and all the members of the House voters across the country will be dealing
with a favorite issue to discuss, ballot initiatives.

See ballot initiatives are a quirky little aspect of our Democratic
process. The great side dish to an otherwise standard main course. Have
you ever stared thinking chicken or fish, quite honestly not caring?

But then you found yourself making a decision based on the incredible
garlic roasted brussel sprouts that come with one. Sometimes that`s the
whole point of a ballot initiative in the first place, to get voters to
turn out for an otherwise mundane selection between political chicken or
fish and those spicy ones twinkled with crispy bacon bits. Turn out for
that indeed.

This November, three states, Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee will
offer voters in addition to the main course of candidates to choose from, a
decision to make about new laws regarding a woman`s right to maintain
dominion over her own body.

In Tennessee voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to allow
state lawmakers to pass a ban on all abortions, and in North Dakota and
Colorado, the ballot initiative is generally referred to as personhood,
making the legal definition of a fetus a person, and thereby making any
abortion a crime.

MSNBC`s Irin Carmon has been reporting extensively on this issue particular
on the ballot initiative in Colorado and why this election day side dish
may be doing anything, but galvanizing the appetite for November 4th main
course. What is going on in Colorado?

CARMON: Well, I think the important thing to note is that, you know,
usually when you look at a menu, you know what you`re getting when you
order it. All three of these ballot initiatives in Tennessee and North
Dakota and Colorado have incredibly confusing language that make it sound
like they have to do with car accidents that harm 8-month-old fetuses.

The fetal homicide bill in Colorado`s case makes it sound like taxpayer
funding for abortion, which doesn`t exist. The North Dakota one is also
confusing. None of them say is a fertilized egg a person? Yes or no? Do
you want to ban abortion? Do you want to plan the IUD? They`re very

What`s at stake is processes for IVF, potential investigations of
miscarriages if they look suspicious or might induced, banning all
abortion, at this point, we`re talking about is the morning-after-pill
something that these people consider abortion.

So I think you have a very strong stall work continuously rallying to get
this stuff on the ballot. Each time even when they lose, they`re still
changing the way that we`re talking about the stuff. We are playing things
on their terms.

PERRY: But it did lose in Mississippi, for goodness sake. So in places
where there is no great pro-choice reproductive movement that represents a
majority, and yet, people are like, whoa, OK, we`re not freezing our eggs
anymore if we have a personhood ballot. Do the personhood initiatives push
too far and still manage to bring that vocal fringe out in a way to impact
the elections?

REID: Yes, because inside of the movement, and Colorado has a very large
one. They have a huge campus near Colorado Springs. So there`s a big
Evangelical movement that is based in Colorado. They are smarter about
internally making sure that we know what we`re doing here.

This is about trying to protect the fertilized egg as human being, but then
on the outside, in a more moderate way. And Corey Gardner who is running
for the United States Senate there against Mark Udall has done that.

To the point where "The Denver Post," which when I was growing up in my
house, it was a sober, serious paper, had this ridiculous endorsement of
him where it tried to play him as a moderate.

PERRY: Let`s listen, in fact. This came up in the Colorado debate. I
want to listen to that pushback for the notion that he is a moderate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You continue to deny that the federal life and
conception act, which you sponsor, is a personhood bill to end abortion.
And we are not going to debate that here tonight because it`s a fact. Your
cosponsors say so. Your opponents say so. Independent fact checkers say

Let`s talk about what the entire episode may say more broadly. It would
seem a charitable interpretation would be you have a difficult time
admitting when you`re wrong, and a less charitable interpretation is you`re
not telling us the truth. Which is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think again, I do not support the personhood
amendment. It`s simply a statement that I support life.


PERRY: It got real in Colorado.

WONG: Well, he just contradicted himself very much so. But that
confusion, by the way, and we know this is marketing and PR. That
confusion is very much on purpose. And it has so many implications, and
it`s so heart breaking to basically present a woman and the story that you
mentioned about the car crash.

And it`s for many of us who are mothers who say, of course, I lost my baby
almost at term. But the implications of that are so extreme and dire for
the rest of us, and to have the politicians, the male politicians
understand exactly what they`re standing on and don`t see this is just a
muddled mess is horrifying to me.

PERRY: I keep thinking, OK, in one case, if a fertilized egg is a person,
then wouldn`t that mean citizenship doesn`t have to be birth right. It
could just be fertilization. So, in fact --

REID: Where were you when you got pregnant?

PERRY: So people just have to come here?

REID: On vacation.

PERRY: People just have to come here and get pregnant.

WONG: And the end of anchor babies.

PERRY: Anchor embryo.

REID: That would stop a lot of visas.

PERRY: It`s maybe we need to get more creative in our push back in part.
I`m sort of being silly. Not entirely. It feels like if we could build a
broader reproductive justice coalition by pointing out these are the
moments that simply go too far.

CARMON: Right. Well, I`ve spent time in Colorado this past week. I think
that coalition is really, really filled. It has folks who may not support
abortion rights or may not be comfortable talking about their stance on

It includes reproductive justice advocates from a local group. Their
outreach is much more about this broader idea of how Latinas would be
disproportionately criminalized if there were investigations in what was
harming a fertilized egg.

You mention the sympathy for that situation. There is a fetal homicide law
in Colorado. It exempts a woman from prosecution for any procedure she
gives consent to. It`s extremely important to put this into who will be
criminalized? Who will be investigated and that is building that

PERRY: And a question of domestic violence. Sometimes we want to protect
the idea that in domestic violence circumstance, that an abuser would be
held culpable for damage done both to a woman as well as to an unborn
child. Yes?

CARMON: It`s a stocking horse to prosecute women. It still comes down to
our favorite word, consent.

REID: Not only that, but at the end of the personal debate, they are
coming for birth control --

PERRY: Won`t happen for your eggs. You have to use them all. Thank you
to Joy Reid and to Erin Carmon and also Carmen Rita Wong. Up next, my
letter of the week.


PERRY: The midterms are only weeks away, and the drama of local and state
elections are reaching a fevered pitch. One of my favorite moments this
week happened in South Carolina when Democratic gubernatorial challenger,
Vincent Shaheen, suggested it was time to retire the confederate flag that
flies in front of the South Carolina State House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it is time that we retire the confederate
flag to a place of respect, where the history of the great state can be
told and we all rally together under a flag that unites us all, the
American flag. That looks towards the future and not the past.


PERRY: This is how incumbent governor, Republican Nikki Haley responded.


GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What I can tell you is over the
last three and a half years I spend a lot of my days on the phones with
CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had
one conversation with a single CEO about the confederate flag.


PERRY: And then she continued with this.


HALEY: What we really fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-
American female governor, when we appointed the first African-American U.S.
senator. That sent a huge message.


PERRY: And that is why my letter this week is to the Republican governor
of South Carolina.

Dear Governor Haley, it`s me, Melissa. This is a fascinating moment in
American history. As you highlighted in your debate this week, you are a
woman and a first generation Indian-American, and you appointed Senator Tim
Scott, the first black senator from the south since reconstruction.

And Scott`s opponent in next month`s election is also black, meaning one of
them will be the first African-American to win statewide office in South
Carolina in 142 years. Those facts are meaningful.

But they have little to do with whether the confederate flag should fly on
government land or whether we have fixed all that. I`m a southern girl. I
grew up with a confederate flag displayed all around me. I love the dukes
of hazard and general lee and took the kids to the Dixie classic fair last

I know, nerd land, black Americans are by and large southerners. Our
roots, stories, struggles, lives of a distinctly southern flavour, yes,
slavery and Jim Crowe are part of the experience. So are church picnics
and black college football games and jazz music.

There`s no black American history not deeply intertwined with southern
history, and as southerners, we could have a complicated relationship with
the stars and bars. We paint it on our pickups, but we don`t flinch and
recoil when we see it.

Governor Haley, you`re a duly elected governor in these United States of
America. And while those who serve the confederacy may have been honorable
men and good soldiers, the reality is the confederate flag represents the
ultimate act of treason.

On December 20th, 1860, your state became the first to secede from the
union. In April 1861, the attack in your state ignited the civil war that
almost tore this country apart. Your state was the first to nullify not
only the law, but the bind that ties us Americans.

Had your state prevailed? We would no longer be a single nation, but just
a great experiment dashed on the shores of slavery and state rights. If
your state won the confederate flag would fly over the state house and
Jefferson Davis would be on your dollar bill. That`s not what happened.

Four bloody years of struggle and loss and brutality ensured this
government of the people, by the people, for the people did not perish from
the earth. And so to remember that we are one nation indivisible, we flag
the flag of our union.

We display our 50 stars as a reminder that each state is woven into the
fabric of our country. To display the confederate flag is to suggest and
honor that an act of treason is in fact reasonable, but it might have been
just as well if our nation was apart.

And we haven`t fixed all that yet, Governor. Indeed, some in your party
have spent the last six years attempting to nullify it through resistance
to the affordable care act.

Governor Haley, it is extraordinary to see you as a southern woman of color
holding the highest office in South Carolina. But that flag is not solely
or even mostly about race. It`s about our collective history and our
remaining struggle to stay united.

Even as you seek to hold office in your state, it`s worth remembering that
you are governor in these United States. Stand under our flag. It`s time
to take the other one down. Sincerely, Melissa.


PERRY: My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough
to think I was someone they could sleep on. As much as I truly wish I had
said these words, I didn`t. These are the musings of the newly elected
executive director of the NBA Player Association.

And as soon as I read them, I knew I had to meet Michele Roberts. Roberts
was the first woman leader of a major U.S. professional sports union. And
with the NBA season set to kick off in ten days, she has a lot on her

From the NBA testing out a shorter game to some marquee players like Lebron
James calling for a shorter season. But to avoid having my own bones
littering her history, I would like to go on record that I think she`s up
to the task.

Having been both a trial lawyer with the Public Defender`s Office in
Washington, D.C. as well as representing large Fortune 500 clients for
several years, she`s ready to step up and negotiate on behalf of the
world`s best and most famous athletes.

I`m pleased now to welcome Michele Roberts. So here is my question. Why
do multimillionaires need a union?

everyone needs to have the ability to exercise as much leverage as they
can. And in our game, we as basketball players together need to confront a
league that is otherwise inclined to pay people less than they`re worth.

And so as great a basketball player as Lebron James is, his ability to
receive compensation that is fair is strengthened when he stands with his
brothers. That`s why we need him there.

PERRY: When you frame the case in that way, particularly the question of
whether or not the people pay a fair wage, within the context of the sport,
my first thought is the NCAA and the effort of college players saying not
only are they not being played any wage, much less a fair one, but others
are profiting from them. Does the NCAA need a union?

ROBERTS: It`s interesting. The answer is probably yes and there are
efforts under way. But I think everyone knows that the sports industry is
a multibillion dollar industry. And there are people that are responsible
for creating that product.

Those are the players. Universities are making a lot of money from those
players. And it is somewhat disgraceful. The players are given an
education, but other than that, none of the money is enjoyed by the
university. If I had my way, they would have been unionized yesterday.

PERRY: In this context of you coming into this world the reality is not
only have issues of race been a part of major league sports for a long time
and the question of integrating the sports and players, but most recently
issues of race and racial bias as well as issues of gender bias, domestic
violence, both in the NFL and NBA. So you`re a trial lawyer.

That`s what you are, what you do. But no one can mince that you`re also a
woman of color. Is it meant to this be something about your identity in
addition to your expertise in this moment that to -- be part of the work
that you`re doing there?

ROBERTS: Well, you know, I would like to believe that the fact that I was
a woman -- the fact that I am a woman, and an African-American woman, I now
believe it did not impede my ability to secure this position. But I do
think it enhances my ability to do the job.

And I`ll tell you why. Issues of race and gender will always be an issue
in this sport and other sports. But to the extent we can encourage people
to be more sensitive about it. Then I think I do have a pulpit that allows
me as an African-American woman to be heard in a way that a white male or a
black male cannot be heard.

Sure, there has been in the past some problems with some of the owners,
and expressions of racial -- and what I`m proud of that the league and
the players together did exactly what had to be done to remove that
problem. If it happens again, we will once again remove that problem.

On the issue of domestic violence, I am proud we are able to have
discussions about it. We`re talking more and more about prevention in my
sport. But I think this is an opportunity for discussion.

And as a woman, people do give my opinion a little bit more ump than they
would if I was a white male. The good news is that we are confronting the
problems and not simply speaking under a table.

PERRY: We were talking earlier in the show about women protecting their
fertility and waiting to have children and what our work is and our family
is, and you know, my eldest sister is a public defender and a trial lawyer
for most of her career.

ROBERTS: Good for her.

PERRY: And she has convinced me that there are lessons we can learn in our
daily lives of negotiating everything from our personal interactions to
economic interactions from trial lawyers. So what have you learned in your
work that is something if I`m never going to represent NBA players is
valuable, particularly for women to know as we engage our world?

ROBERTS: As a trial lawyer, as both a public defender and someone I was
representing in fortune 100 companies, at the end of the day, what you`re
doing is helping someone or something, helping companies solve a problem.

As a trial lawyer, the problem is either going to be solved by negotiation
or it`s going to be resolved by a jury. Most of the time the cases were
resolved in negotiation, and as a woman I didn`t believe that I needed to
walk in, and this is I found true about most women.

We don`t walk into negotiations with our fists folded. We walk in
understanding that we both want to walk out and with women, there`s no ego.
There`s appreciation that we`re going to get it done. And we`re going to
get it done without calling each other names, without deciding who is
smarter than the other.

And so whenever I had a negotiation with a woman, it was a lot easier. We
didn`t have we simply had a job to do. I encourage people not to believe
that they have to be tough and brutish in order to be effective.

It`s never a compelling argument for me to make when I`m walking into a
room with my fists balled. So, frankly, it`s -- the art of negotiation and
the notion that you have to make a deal is something that I learned as a
trial lawyer.

PERRY: I love that you extracted the bones of those men so delicately.
Thank you to Michele Roberts for being here. Thank you for your work in
representing the players as laborers. Up next, our foot soldier this week
is giving a hand.


PERRY: Our foot soldier of the week is John Schul, a research scientist at
the Rochester Institute of Technologies Magic Center, media, arts, games,
interaction and creativity.

Last year, John came across some YouTubers who collaborated across the
globe to produce a 3-D printed prosthetic hand for a child in South Africa.
Once that printed hand was complete, they shared the plans online for free.
John loved what he saw and was inspired to get involved.

He created a Google map and linked it on the comet section of that video.
The premise was simple. If you have a 3-D printer, add a pin on the map
with your location. If you need a hand, add a pin to the map. Within just
a few weeks, there were more than 70 pins.

John then founded "Enable," a global community of volunteers who spent
their free time printing, assembling, distributing and improving upon 3-D
printed mechanical hands for children in need. The volunteers of enable
include engineers, teachers, 3-D print enthusiasts, occupational
therapists, artists and many more people from all walks of life.

The only cost is material, about $50. Traditional prosthetic hands can
cost more than $40,000. The hands are mechanical. If you can bend your
wrist, you can make a fist. Users can pick up a toy or a cup, hold to
their bike handles or give a handshake or even a fist bump.

This is 3-year-old Raden. Enable volunteers made him a hand with a special
twist. He has his own Iron Man-colored superhero hand. In addition to
having a more functional hand, they also become the coolest kids in school.

The folks at Enable are clear about the fact that these helper hands are
not the same as a full-blown prosthetic ones but these are lighter, easier
to access and just plain cool. And let`s not forget, for kids in need,
these hands are free.

John always tells the kids, with great hands come great responsibility. He
fully expects the hand recipients to join the good fight by someday buying
their own 3-D printers and assembling hands for others. For bringing
together those who need a hand with those who want to lend a helping hand.

John Schul is our foot soldier of the week. That`s our show for today.
Thanks for watching. I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Right now, time for a preview of "Weekends With Alex Witt." Hi, Alex.

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello. Thanks so much. We`re going to be
talking about the report in "The New York Times" on what Officer Darren
Wilson says happened in the minutes before he shot and killed Michael

And Ebola in your dreams, really? You`re going to hear from the author of
a new article about how anxiety over Ebola is probably more contagious than
the virus itself. I`ll be right back.



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