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Interview with Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, North Carolina; Bill Would Ban "Conversion Therapy"; Congressional Bill Opposes Legality of Gay Conversion Psychotherapy; Supermodel Boycotts Mother's Day; Unimaginable Grief -- into Joy

Aired May 11, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: he was on the FBI's most wanted fugitive list. This morning, Adam Mayes is dead. A dramatic and abrupt end as police closed in on the Tennessee kidnapping suspect.

Also this morning, inside the elite L.A. sheriff's gang unit. Rumors of secret of police officers called the "Jump Out Boys". Do they really exist? Do they really have matching tattoos for shooting gang members? We'll take a look.

And then forget the flowers. We'll tell you why supermodel Kristie Turlington Burns wants you to boycott Mother's Day. She says no Mother's Day is for a really good cause. We'll talk about what that is straight ahead.

It is Friday, May 11th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: This is Mike's. Stop singing.

Very singable. Maroon 5, "This Love".



WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Maroon 5, Will Cain, happy.



O'BRIEN: Our panel this morning, Abby Huntsman, political commentator. She's daughter of former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. Marc Lamont Hill, is what I'm trying to say, is a professor at Columbia University. And Will Cain is a columnist of

Nice to have you all this morning as we've been fighting in the first hour.

CAIN: It's what you take when you take three pretentious names.

O'BRIEN: That is true. That's what you get.

Let's get right to Zoraida Sambolin with our headlines this morning.

Hey, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you.

Two missing Tennessee girls are safe this morning. Their suspected kidnapper fugitive Adam Mayes is dead. FBI official say Mayes shot himself in the head last night and was later pronounced dead. The girls were found in a wooded area near Mayes home in Union County, Mississippi. Police showed signs of exposure and dehydration. They have been taken to the hospital for observation now.

And Florida A&M's band director out of a job this morning, unexpectedly quitting in wake of the school's hazing scandal. Julian White had been on paid administration leave since November, following the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Police say Champion died in a band hazing incident. Thirteen people have been charged in his death. FAMU's board of trustees is meeting next week to discuss the future of the band.

And he may have inside track for Mitt Romney's number two. But a poll suggests Ohio Senator Rob Portman won't make the battleground state turn red in November. Forty-five percent of Ohio registered voters back President Obama. That is according to a Quinnipiac poll, 44 percent are for Romney.

If Portman is on the ticket, the race remains a dead heat. In fact, nearly six in 10 Buckeye voters say they don't know enough about Portman to form an opinion about him.

And a vice president apologizing to his boss. Senior administration officials say Joe Biden went to President Obama and told him he was sorry for putting him in a tough spot on the same-sex marriage issue. Biden came out in support of same-sex marriage on a Sunday morning talk show and some believe that forced the president to make his own announcement ahead of schedule. We're told President Obama responded by telling Biden that he knew he was speaking from the heart.

And it was stars-mageddon last night at Studio City, California, mansion of actor George Clooney. President Obama schmoozing with 150 well-heeled Hollywood types. Each of them donation 40 grand for that privilege. The fundraiser bringing a stunning $15 million in contribution to the president's re-election campaign.

Soledad, were you there?

O'BRIEN: Yes. And then I took my private jet back here because George Clooney always wants me to sit next to me at whatever dinner he's holding for whomever.

SAMBOLIN: Don't we all wish?

O'BRIEN: One day, we're talking Sudan, and next day, we're having dinner. No. Of course not.

All right. Thank you, Zoraida.

There's new pressure this morning for the Democratic National Convention to get out of Charlotte after North Carolina voters passed an anti-gay marriage amendment. An online petition on calls on Democrats to, quote, "In protest, the Democratic National Convention Committee should move its convention to a state that upholds values of equality and liberty and which treats all citizens equally."

The Democratic National Convention Committee says they're not moving. But it's not silencing critics. About 29,000 people have signed the petition. It's still growing.

I spoke with the mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx.


O'BRIEN: Roughly 30,000 people have signed that petition. Are you concerned about the success of your convention?

MAYOR ANTHONY FOXX (D), CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, look, the Democratic Party has already said the convention is staying in Charlotte and frankly if we had a referendum on every single issue that people disagree with, we wouldn't have a convention anymore.

Charlotte is a great place for the convention. It's in a state that has had to reinvent itself economically over many, many years. It's in a state that continues to be a place where we continue to make strong investments in infrastructure and those are two big issues, education and infrastructure. The president talks about that a lot.

I think over time North Carolina will continue to evolve with this issue and many others.

O'BRIEN: The folks from Occupy Wall Street, when they were doing protests at the bank of America meetings say it was a test run for the convention. What's the security going to be like? What are plans and are you concerned about those kinds of protests within the bigger called for boycott?

FOXX: Well, you know, there will always be demonstration activity associated with either political convention. Our law enforcement agencies are working closely with federal law enforcement agencies to ensure that the public is protected and safe but also that people who want to express their views have an opportunity to do that. I feel very confident that we'll strike that balance in the right way.

O'BRIEN: The state tourism website visit North Carolina has become a hot bed of angry comments. I was reading some of them. It was crazy.

I know Clay Aiken from your state, weighed in as well. He said this, "I don't want people talking bad about North Carolina. You can be as mad as you want but you have to remember that 30 states did that before we did it. You can kiss my foot if you want to talk bad about my state."

Do you think that message, that "kiss my foot message" -- do you think that message is getting out to folks?

FOXX: You know, I don't know about kiss my foot but I do think that the fact that there have been 30 other states that have taken this measure and including now, North Carolina draws attention to this issue. And frankly I think that North Carolina still has many, many positive attribute attributes. I would point out that Charlotte and the county in which it sits defeated the referendum by 54 percent to 44 percent margin.

O'BRIEN: Will you continue to point that out as people are calling for a boycott?

FOXX: If necessary. Again, I think that it is important to have this convention and to have it be successful and to have a full and fair debate on the issues of conscience that have been raised by this amendment and many other issues that affect our country.

But the most important thing is that North Carolina and Charlotte are a good backdrop for the president to launch into his fall campaign.

O'BRIEN: What do you think that will mean for the election? You have a president who says he supports gay marriage and North Carolina is an important swing state. How does it end up in the election?

FOXX: Well, it's interesting. Polling was done prior to the recent election that showed that 55 percent of North Carolinians believe there should be some form of recognition for same-sex couples. And so, the public in North Carolina is split on that.

I think that when we get into the fall, people will care more about the job plans of both candidates a lot more about what the candidates are going to do to improve the long term strength of the economic health of our country. And so, I think those issues are going to weigh more and I think the president is going to be on the right side of those issues.

O'BRIEN: Anthony Foxx is the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. Nice to see you, Mayor Foxx. Appreciate you being with us.

FOXX: Great seeing you. Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.


O'BRIEN: And still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning -- actually before we get that I have a second.

What do you think?

CAIN: Can you imagine pulling up stakes and pulling your tent into your backpack and moving to another state? Look, it's going to be really hard to have that Democratic National Convention in Charlotte between Occupy -- as you suggested in that interview and now this gay marriage vote. It's not going to be pretty but you can't move.

O'BRIEN: Of course not. And here's why you cannot move, because that is going to make for them roughly $300 million. And raise a city to a bigger national platform.

As he pointed out, that city has been growing and growing, right? So he wants to keep that training in the right direction.

CAIN: I'm saying from the DNC's perspective, you can't tuck your tail between your legs and take off.

O'BRIEN: Clearly, politically, it would be problematic. Financially, it will be problematic. And if you want that city to make the turnaround that they've had, got to keep doing that.

HUNTSMAN: You don't want anybody hurt. You want it to be handled well.

HILL: This is democracy in action. Democratic Party loves that. You like that extra thing I did there. I did that.


O'BRIEN: We're glad that you're claiming it. We're glad that you're claiming that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- so, these guys had matching tattoos of a gun toting skeleton. A secret clique of police officers who literally wear shootings as a badge of honor. We'll talk to the reporter who uncovered this story coming up next.

And then this -- naked delivery. A postal worker say they feel uncomfortable going to one particular place. That's a clothing option neighborhood to deliver the mail. I'm convinced they are protecting a little too much.

This is Zoraida's playlist. It's Pitbull featuring Marc Anthony, "Rain Over Me." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Secret sheriff's click in L.A. with a surprising tradition facing serious scrutiny this morning. Internal affairs for the L.A. County sheriff's department is investigating a group of officers within the elite gang unit known as "Jump Out Boys" and they are identified by matching tattoos which apparently were modified to celebrate involvement in a shooting.

Officers would add smoke over the barrel of a gun, which is held by a skeleton with a bandanna, reading "OSS." That stands for Operation Safe Streets. The name of the department unit where the gang serves. The two playing cards, an ace and eight, apparently illusion to dead man's hand in poker.

Joining me this morning is a reporter who uncovered this story, Robert Faturechi.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us.

Walk me through the latest in this investigation.

ROBERT FATURECHI, REPORTER, L.A. TIMES : Yes. Well, when we first broke the story several weeks ago, all investigators knew was that a brochure was discovered in a patrol car basically laying out the creed for the "Jump Out Boys". Most disturbingly the idea that shootings which are, you know, supposed to be seen as events of last resort, were being treated like badges of honor.

Now, at that time, the sheriff's department was telling us, look, we don't know of any known members. This may simply be a fantasy. It may be a hoax. Now, this week, one deputy has come forward as a member and has apparently named, according to our sources, about six other deputies who are also part of the Clique.

O'BRIEN: So, walk me through how this Clique operated.

FATURECHI: Well, the point of Cliques like this one and many others that have existed in the L.A. County sheriff's department, and historically, in law enforcement agencies across the nation is that they work in secret. Only members are supposed to know how they work.

And in fact, a lot of my sources who have come across similar types of Cliques during their careers have been shocked that this one laid out its creed on paper.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Honestly, it doesn't seem like a really smart thing to do for secret society to create a brochure that then is accidentally left in a police car. A lot of this focuses on the tattoo that the members seem to have and then modify every time there's a shooting. Can you describe the tattoo for me in more detail and how that worked?

FATURECHI: Yes. So, the tattoo looks actually a lot like the tattoo that was associated with a group of officers who composed the LAPD's rampart scandal several years back. You've got the skull with glowing red eyes. You've got the supposed dead man's hand, you know, which is a poker term. And you've got the revolver that the skull is holding and pointing at the viewer.

Now, what's most disturbing about this suspected tattoo is that upon being involved in a shooting, members would have the tattoo modified to have smoke coming out of the barrel. Now, that hasn't been absolutely confirmed yet, but that's what investigators are working on right now.

And this would be most disturbing to sheriff's supervisors because, look, shootings even shootings that are well within policy, even shootings that are necessary are expected to be perceived as somber events, events that you don't celebrate in this fashion.

CAIN: Hi, Robert. This is Will Cain. Just for viewers that might not remember, the rampart division was a division of the LAPD or L.A. Sheriff's Department in the 1990s that was involved in bad shootings and false crime reports. You said the tattoo is reminiscent.

Are there any other connections between that rampart (ph) scandal and the personnel with the management involved in this one?

FATURECHI: Well, that was an LAPD scandal, not a sheriff's scandal. And in that case, what we saw was, in addition to these hallmarks that we discussed before, we also saw evidence planning, bad shootings, you know, the kind of police work that led to false imprisonment, that kind of thing.

Now, we haven't seen that kind of misconduct in this case yet, but that's simply because what's known right now is very little. So, investigators don't know one way or another, and we don't know one way or another whether, you know, further misconduct was involved with this group's behavior.

O'BRIEN: Robert Faturechi is a staff reporter for the "L.A. Times." Nice to talk to you. Thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

FATURECHI: Thanks for having me, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, get real an unzip code. Get it? Talking about people getting naked.


O'BRIEN: And yet, the postal workers are unhappy with their route, because they have to deliver, they say, to the neighborhood nudist. They don't want to see all that.

HUNTSMAN: I'd think they're going to be happy about that.

O'BRIEN: One would think, Abby. I would agree.

HILL: Depends on who opens the door.


CAIN: Are you purposely saying naked?

O'BRIEN: My daughter says naked. Why is that wrong?

CAIN: I thought you --yes, naked. O'BRIEN: Well, when I talk to six year olds, they say naked.



O'BRIEN: I'm going to thought it again. People getting undressed and naked. Will Cain, were you happy with my enunciation on that?

CAIN: Coming up the next blog , we'll all get naked.


O'BRIEN: Yes. That's right. Don't forget, you can follow us on your mobile device when you're at work. Go to

Reporter Robert Faturechi's playlist, Jay-Z, "Primetime." All right. You're watching STARTING POINT. We got to take a short break. We'll be back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: That's No Doubt off of Marc Lamont Hill. Yes. That long pretentious name as Will Cain likes to say it.


O'BRIEN: That's No Doubt, "Do You Really Love Me?" You can see our entire playlist on our website,

Our "Get Real" this morning, neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night, nor even ugly, unattractive naked men should shall keep postal workers from delivering the mail. Actually, two postal workers in Virginia are complaining to the postmaster. They say the rounds are making them very uncomfortable.

When they deliver their mail, they have to actually deliver it to a nudist camp. And the nudists are at the park, apparently, is on private property, right? So, they come and greet them, the nudist do.


O'BRIEN: They feel like often letting it all hang out going all natural, as they say. They say that's the right as private property. The mail carriers say, well, they have a right not to see people naked. And you know, this goes back to the Soledad O'Brien first (INAUDIBLE), which is people you want to see naked never get naked.

People who get naked are people you never want to see naked, especially at nudist colonies. So, one has to imagine, though, that they could resolve this.

CAIN: What do you mean post office is so full? I don't know. Do you have a right to be free from seeing naked people? I'm not sure. Is that a right? O'BRIEN: Maybe. Yes, if that's your job.


LIVINGSTON: If you were part of this colony, I would protest as well. I wouldn't go --


O'BRIEN: Oh, it's a throw down!

CAIN: Thank you, Abby.

O'BRIEN: I actually think that -- what the complaints might be less about the naked people and more about the quality of the naked --

HILL: That's totally what it's about. If it was a colony for models, no one will be saying anything.

O'BRIEN: So, it could be solved. I think you're going to find naked (ph) volunteers. You know what, I could solve this for them. They should call me.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, from gay to straight, the state of California weighing a ban on so-called gay teen conversion therapy. We're going to look at both sides of that debate and talk to a man who went through the process, himself.

Also Christy Turlington Burns, super model and a mom and a film maker, on a mission. We'll tell you why she's calling for a boycott of Mother's Day saying that women should actually not celebrate Mother's Day to bring attention to a really good cause. This is Christy's playlist. It's Madonna, "Promise to Try." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: That's Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now." I love starting with Queen. We should really start every show with Queen, honestly.

Let's turn to California now. Their efforts to ban a form of psychotherapy that claims it can make gay teenagers straight. It's now in the state Senate. Supporters say the treatments don't work, and they could cause harm. Conservative religious groups say that ban would interfere with parents' rights.

State senator Ted Lieu wrote the bill. Gabriel Arana underwent this kind of therapy back in 1998 in California. He says not only did it not change his sexual orientation, he's gay, he's now married to his same-sex partner. Nice to see both of you.

Senator Lieu, let me start with you if I can. The ban would prohibit the therapy for minors. And adults would have to sign a waiver saying that it is likely ineffectual, that it could be dangerous. Why do you think this is necessary? TED LIEU, (D) CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR: Well, because the entire medical community has come out and rejected gay conversion therapy as an authorized practice. And that's because being a homosexual is not a mental disease or illness that requires a cure or a fix for the same reason being a heterosexual is not a mental disease or illness.

And in fact, the American Psychiatric Association has stated it is unprofessional conduct for a therapist to engage in this kind of reparative gay conversation therapy.

O'BRIEN: But it would only prohibit this for licensed therapists and psychotherapists, right? So, in a way, could this make it worse? If you look at sort of the number of churches now that offer this therapy, which I'm going to assume is lay people or a clergy, it's gone from 2002, 115 into 2012 -- Exodus International, by the way, this is their stats, 263. So it's kind of growing wildly there. Do you worry that you shift it away from being able to be monitored?

LIEU: So I would caution anyone who wants to seek therapy that they go through a licensed therapist. The reason that this Bill doesn't affect religious institutions is because of the First Amendment to the constitution so we're completely silent on the religious issues in this bill.

O'BRIEN: I want to ask Gabriel a question if I can. You went through this therapy when you were a teenager. Tell me how you got to that therapy.

GABRIEL ARANA, WEB EDITOR, AMERICAN PROSPECT MAGAZINE: It's not just that ex-gay therapy can cause harm, it does cause harm. A study commissioned between 2007 and 2009 shows that because it encourages kids to see homosexuality as a pathology, it runs a risk of making them be suicidal, depressed, hurts self-esteem. I was in therapy for three-and-a-half years from the time I was 14 until I graduated from high school, and it indeed lowered my self-esteem, made me think of suicide and made me depressed.

O'BRIEN: What do they do in therapy? What is the therapy?

ARANA: Starting in the 1970s when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness, there stopped being therapy. It used to be the case that gay people were given nausea inducing drugs and electroshock therapy. But now I would say it's more benign but it's still harmful. Now it mostly involves talk therapy in which patients are encouraged to see their sexual attractions as a result of a family trauma, of failure to connect with their fathers.

HUNTSMAN: The other side of the argument is that I think a lot of parents feel it's important that their children have a place to go. A lot of church communities feel that they need to have certain services in place where people can go when they first wake into their sexual orientation. Do you feel there are services that are healthy and that can be helpful that you experienced, or do you think that doesn't exist? ARANA: You mean if you are asking about the therapy I would say the answer is no. But luckily the vast majority of psychiatrists and psychologist practice gay affirmative therapy and encourage kids as well as adults to see their sexual attractions as just a natural variation of human sexuality.

CAIN: Gabriel, this is Will Cain. Here's my question for you. As you said, the various psychiatry associations have said the therapy doesn't work and we shouldn't do it. What you guys are talking about doing, and this may be a better question for the congressman here, you are looking to make it illegal. Doesn't that place you into that psychiatric room and into that psychiatrist counseling session with each client, and you're going to have to parse conversation going on between psychiatrists and their clients and their patients to find out exactly what's going on every one of these situations.

LIEU: I don't think that's -- government steps in and bans dangerous things from children so we don't let parents consent to have their children smoke or to have their children drink alcohol. And for the same reason, I believe we should ban it for children under 18.

CAIN: You do that by putting age limits on sales. Here's my question. How do you implement this? Do you place a government official inside the counseling offices? How do you keep what amount to conversations from taking place?

LIEU: So we have a strict definition in the Bill and it people go through this therapy as a child and get harmed, they can sue the therapist.

O'BRIEN: Gabriel, you were going to add to that.

ARANA: I was going to say, look at the controversy over the woman who sent her child to a tanning salon. It's very similar. This therapy is really harmful and it's like giving your child the contents of a medicine cabinet, vulnerable kids the contents of a medicine cabinet. It's one thing for adults to be able to have freedom to pursue it if they wish. It's another thing entirely to take vulnerable children and well-intentioned parents like my own and send them to this harmful therapy.

O'BRIEN: I think there is an argument that people would say about the slippery slope, right, that ultimately at what point does it stop? Does the government interfere saying to parents you cannot choose this for your child whether they are wrongheaded about it or really thinking what they believe, as you say, rightfully about their intentions, at what point does that stop? At what point does the government not interfere in what they can tell a parent to do for their kids? Some of the criticism has centered on that.

ARANA: I would say that that line is -- there's actually a very definitive line, and that there's not really a controversy in the medical and psychiatric communities about whether the ex-gay therapy is harmful. It's widely thought and widely been shown to be harmful. So I would say that the line stops when you have established evidence that this therapy is harmful. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, sir, do you have a quick final word before I run out of time?

LIEU: Yes. This is the practice of medicine. We're banning the unauthorized practice of medicine upon children that can cause great harm.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you very much.

Want to get to Zoraida for a look at the day's other big stories. Hey, Z.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Mitt Romney apologizing for an incident that took place in 1965, even though he insists he does not remember it. As first reported in "The Washington Post," several of Romney's former classmates say he was target of a group of students who targeted a boy who many thought was gay. They accused Romney of cutting clumps of the young man's hair off. Romney calls it a prank.

But witness Phillip Maxwell, now an attorney, says he wishes he had done something about it. He tells CNN, quote, "It's a haunting memory. I think it is for everyone that spoke up about it, because when you see someone different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye, you never forget it." A Romney adviser spoke to Soledad earlier.


KERRY HEALEY, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think we have to take Governor Romney at his word about this. I spent a week sitting in the hospital with my 86-year-old mother talking about 1960s and 1970s, and we remembered very different things and the same things differently. So I think we have to take him at his word. But the real question here is, is Mitt Romney a bully. The answer is no.


SAMBOLIN: Later this morning defense lawyers for John Edwards plan to ask the judge to dismiss all charges against the former senator. They claim prosecutors haven't proven their case in his corruption trial. The prosecution rested yesterday without calling Edwards' former mistress Rielle Hunter to the stand.

And watching your money this morning, mortgage rates at historic lows again. The most popular 30 year fixed rate mortgage is down to 3.83 percent. To put this in perspective, if you have a $200,000 loan at six percent, if you refinanced right now, you would save about $300 a month. That's pretty good.

The national average gas price dropping another half cent in the past 24 hours. The new national average for a gallon of gas, $3.73 a gallon. Gas prices dropping for a week now. With oil prices down as well, we can expect this trend to continue for at least a few weeks. But gas prices tend to peak around the fourth of July. And time for your royal forecast. That's gone viral this morning. Prince Charles and Camilla were on a tour of BBC Scotland when his royal highness decided to pop in front of the camera to deliver the national forecast, getting a crash course from the crew.


PRINCE CHARLES: It's an unsettled picture heading toward the end of the week. This afternoon it will be cold, wet and windy across most of Scotland. We're under the influence of low pressure, and this weather front pushing northwards is bringing clouds and outbreaks of rain.


SAMBOLIN: Soledad, he picked up this anchor thing quickly. He realized quickly when it doubt, toss the writers under the bus.


PRINCE CHARLES: It will be slow for the higher ground in highlands and the potential for a few flurries -- who the hell wrote this script? As the afternoon goes on.



SAMBOLIN: And without missing a beat, I might add, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It's better with the British accent. It was very good, a new career for him if he decides to go into another line of work. All right, Z., thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, forget the flowers. We'll tell you why supermodel Christy Turlington Burns says we should boycott mother's day. She'll tell us about it coming up next. Her pick, the Dixie Chicks. Great to see you. Good morning. How are you?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On May 13th, the one day when people think about mothers the most --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will participate in no Mother's Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will choose to disappear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In an act of solidarity for at-risk mothers around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Mothers everywhere will be celebrated on Sunday because it's Mother's Day. Christy Turlington Burns is saying no Mother's Day. She's advising no flowers, no loving text messages to or from your mom. She says silence sends a message. She wants to recognize 1,000 women every day who die from complications from child birth. Se she says most of those are preventable. Christy Turlington Burns join us this morning. Nice to see you.


O'BRIEN: Explain to me the silence to get attention, the solidarity in saying no to mother's day to get attention.

TURLINGTON BURNS: This is such a noisy time. There is so much money and marketing going on to mothers and people who love mothers around this time. And so for an organization it's focused on maternal health all year long, for us to stand apart from that at a time which makes sense for an organization like ours, you have to kind of go the other way.

And there is a power in using your voice when it's necessary and also is a power in taking your voice away for a period of time I think.

O'BRIEN: I was surprised to see that maternal health in the United States were honestly I thought we would be at the top of the top, we're not. We're behind of a lot of other countries. Malta we're behind, Croatia, Slovakia, Italy, tied with Germany.

TURLINGTON BURNS: We're ranked 50th at the moment according to MST International.


O'BRIEN: One being the -- the -- the very worst. 50th being --

TURLINGTON BURNS: No 50th being farther away from the best.

O'BRIEN: Wow so 1 being the best, we're 50th.


O'BRIEN: So why? I mean, with all the money and resources that we have in this country, what are we doing wrong?

TURLINGTON BURNS: Well there is still obviously not a lot of women that are covered health insurance. You know one out of five women in this country do not have health coverage. And if -- if they don't have health coverage and they're pregnant, you are -- it's a pre-existing condition and that shuts a lot of women out of health care and antenatal health care is so critical for so many women because even when you don't have a chronic health condition, something can arise during the period of time that you are you know carrying a child. And so it's really important that we -- that we make sure that every woman has that care and that's something that should come with our reform actually here.

O'BRIEN: You know you -- I've read that this really became your baby so to speak, forgive the pun. Because you had your own complications when your daughter, Grace, was -- was born and then this became a film as well. Can you talk about that? What happened?

TURLINGTON BURNS: Sure so I had a great pregnancy and delivery actually with Grace eight years ago. But afterwards, which is when a lot of complications arise, I started to hemorrhage. And I wasn't expecting it. I wasn't a case that would have been monitored.

O'BRIEN: Not monitored.

BURNS: No not at all and so just having had the experience, I wanted to understand why did that happened to me and in trying to understand that is when I came across the global statistics which is that hundreds of thousands of women die every year and a thousand every day.

O'BRIEN: You created the film.


TURLINGTON BURNS: That's right, "No Woman, No Cry".

O'BRIEN: "No Woman, No Cry" which is a great film that came out a couple years ago now and it's the story of four really countries and how they treat maternal health. I want to just run a little tiny clip of it if we can.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Janet's labor is not progressing and the threat of death for both baby and mother is palpable. With no money to pay for food or transport, the nurses asked us to help.


O'BRIEN: You say that so many of these 90 percent of these deaths are preventable. How?

TURLINGTON BURNS: Well, access is the critical piece. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa where the maternal mortality rates are the highest. You know services are free in Tanzania which is where we shot part of the film. Yet women can't access those services because of the cost of transportation, the fact that where they are in village settings is not linked to a clinic which is not linked to a referral hospital that can actually help a woman out in the event that she actually does need an emergency care.

So you know really making sure that there is health workers out in the village that are linked back to the health system and that the health system is looking after her in some capacity. CAIN: So Christy, the cause is obviously a worthy one. But I just want to ask you one more time about the implementation. So when I wake up on Sunday morning and I have nothing for my wife and nothing for my mother I tell them what this is for a cause?

TURLINGTON BURNS: You know what actually it should come from them. You know I think you should honor what the -- what the woman in the situation is wanting. You know this is sort of a mom to mom kind of ask. And you know, everyone is going to be comfortable with different levels of it.

For me to go silent is not going to be difficult my family is well aware of what I'm committed to. But for others it might be difficult.

CAIN: I get away with it.

HILL: You're not off the hook. You're not off the hook Will.


O'BRIEN: And you're going to make a donation in her name to support maternal health.

CAIN: Not a justification --

O'BRIEN: And you know what I'm going to -- no, no definitely you want to definitely broach that ahead of time. But I think that would be a great way to raise awareness.

And then the next day Monday morning you buy her chocolates and flowers that will keep you in good stead. Is what I would tell you. Christy Turlington Burns, it's so nice to see you. Thanks for joining us.

BURNS: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: A super, a super important issue. We appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, speaking of mothers from grief to joy, a mother's story of strength and courage is up next. We're going to share that with you. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: That would be the Foo Fighters, "My Hero". This week's CNN Hero is a mother who turned unimaginable grief into joy. Take a look.


WANDA BUTTS, CNN HERO OF THE WEEK: Josh went to spend the night with friends. I had no clue that they were coming to the lake. Right about here is where Josh was, where the raft capsized and he went down. It's very hard for me to believe that just like that my son had drowned and he was gone. My father instilled in us the fear of water and so I in turn didn't take my son around water. Children don't have to drown.

My name is Wanda Butts. I save lives by providing swimming lessons and water safety skills.

Jacob Kendrick.

African-American children are three times more likely to drown than white children. That's why we started the Josh Project. To educate families about the importance of being water safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the ring buoy and throw it at the victim.

BUTTS: Many parents they don't know how to swim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was afraid of the water. He is the first in my family to learn how to swim. And he's come a long way from not liking water in his face to getting dunked under.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You like it? All right.

BUTTS: I'm so happy to see that so many of them have learned how to swim.

Good job. That's one life we saved.

It takes me back to Josh and how the tragedy was turned into triumph and it makes me happy.

PEOPLE: Josh Project.

BUTTS: All right.


O'BRIEN: Good for her. I love that.

"End Point" is up next with our panel. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Time for "End Point". I feel "End Point" on a Friday is just music to my ears after a long week. All right. Who wants to start?

CAIN: I will. I'll jump right in there.

HUNTSMAN: Didn't even have a shot.

O'BRIEN: Not at all. Forget ladies first -- don't worry about that at all. Go ahead Will.

CAIN: I want to illustrated again the masterful -- the masterful media choreography this President Obama's support of gay marriage from Joe Biden's pre-taped "Meet the Press" interview on Friday to Hillary Clinton and all of President Obama's surrogates coming out earlier in the week for it. And then him sitting down with Robin Roberts on Tuesday or Wednesday was it in supporting gay marriage. And then this fund-raiser with George Clooney shortly to follow after that. And then the story of Mitt Romney bullying a gay person when he was in high school.

O'BRIEN: Are you saying that politicians -- this whole thing was -- you're surprised it was choreographed?

CAIN: I think it's worth pulling back the curtains every once in a while and showing (ph) yes, while you arrived at the right place, you should question the motives and how (inaudible)


O'BRIEN: And the motives would be --

CAIN: The motives would be this was a politically advantageous thing to do.

O'BRIEN: A person who's running for the presidency doing something advantageous?


O'BRIEN: I'm stunned.

CAIN: Whenever I point out someone like the President, you always act like it's so obvious.

O'BRIEN: But whenever you point out anybody who's a politician doing something slightly political, yes.

CAIN: Might be worth reinforcing on the days we're talking about. Mt. Rushmore figurehead.

HUNTSMAN: All right. Well, you're spoiling my time Will, so -- you know.

CAIN: No, Soledad did. Soledad did.

HUNTSMAN: I'm going to add to that, touching on the Romney bullying story. And I think it's a very slippery slope to go back to the high school days. I think we all have skeletons in our closet.

O'BRIEN: Not me.

HUNTSMAN: Not Soledad and of course not Will Cain. It makes it so people are not inclined to run. They're worried about their past and I don't think that's something that we should be doing.

And I think we should get back to the issues. Let's try talking about the economy again. That's what really matters.

I also want to wish all the mothers out there a happy mother's day especially my wonderful mother. I won't give you flowers this year. Nothing.

O'BRIEN: Nothing for you, mom, but we love you.


HILL: I am tired of the double standard. For the last four years -- five years really we have attacked President Obama. We've investigated his childhood, where he went to school, where he went to church, what he ate as a kid, who he played with, what he wore, what his transcript mean.

Everything of his life has been investigated and now suddenly when it comes to Mitt Romney who bullied somebody in such a traumatic way it was normal that he doesn't even remember it, people say oh my God, we can't dig into people's past.

O'BRIEN: Editorialize -- he didn't say it was so normal to him that he doesn't remember it. He says he doesn't remember.

HILL: No, no. Right. And I'm saying that I find it troubling that everyone else remembers it and it was so traumatic to this kid and yet he doesn't even recall it. That's problematic to me.

That is the "End Point" this morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Have a great weekend everybody. Hey Carol.