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Abortion Pill Guilty Plea; Interview with Remee Lee; Man Pleads Guilty in Abortion Case; New Mammogram Study; Syria Accepts Chemical Weapons Deal>

Aired September 10, 2013 - 08:30   ET



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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much, Michaela.

So, President Obama speaking with CNN's own Wolf Blitzer as part of his push to try to win support for U.S. military strikes in Syria. The president, also in the interview, addressed the new diplomatic twist presented Monday by Russia. And as we learned earlier this hour, is now being accepted by Syria. He tells CNN that a deal wouldn't have presented itself if the U.S. wasn't ready to strike.


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": This latest idea floated by the secretary of state, John Kerry, picked up by the Russians, is it possible this could avert a U.S. military strike on Syria?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's possible if it's real. And, you know, I think it's certainly a positive development when the Russians and the Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons. This is what we've been asking for, not just over the last week or the last month, but for the last couple of years, because these chemical weapons pose a significant threat to all nations, and to the United States in particular. That's why 98 percent of humanity has said, we don't use these. That protects our troops and it protects children, like the ones that we saw in those videos inside of Syria.

So, it is a potentially positive development. I have to say that it's unlikely that we would have arrived at that point, where there were even public statements like that, without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons use inside of Syria. But we're going to run this to ground. And John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the Russians and the international community to see, can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.

WOLF: Is this Bashar al Assad's last chance? OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that it is important for Assad to understand that, you know, the chemical weapons ban, which has been in place, is one that the entire civilized world just about respects and observes. It's something that protects our troops, even when we're in the toughest war theaters, from being threatened by these chemical weapons. It's something that protects women and children and civilians, because these weapons, by definition, are indiscriminate. They don't just target somebody in uniform. And, you know, I suspect that some of Assad's allies recognize the mistake he made in using these weapons. And it may be that he is under pressure from them as well.

You know, again, this doesn't solve the underlying terrible conflict inside of Syria. But if we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference. On the other hand, if we don't maintain and move forward with a credible threat of military pressure, I do not think we will actually get the kind of agreement I'd like to see.

BLITZER: You're being seen right now on CNN and CNN International around the world, including in Damascus.


BLITZER: What I'd like you to do, Mr. President, if you're amenable to doing it, look into the camera, talk directly to President Bashar al- Assad, tell him specifically what you think he must do to avert a U.S. military strike.

OBAMA: You know, I don't need to talk in the camera. I suspect he's - he's got people who will be watching this.

BLITZER: He's probably watching it himself.

OBAMA: We've been very clear about what we expect. And that is, do not use chemical weapons. Control the chemical weapons and now, because we've seen Assad's willingness to use chemical weapons, we're going to have to go further and give the international community assurances that they will not be used, potentially by getting them out of there. At minimum, making sure that international control over those chemical weapons takes place.

That can be accomplished and it does not solve the broader political situation. I would say to Mr. Assad, we need a political settlement so that you're not slaughtering your own people, and, by the way, encouraging some elements of the opposition to engage in some terrible behavior as well. You know, what I'm thinking about is, right now, though, how do we make sure that we can verify that we do not have chemical weapons that can be used, not only inside of Syria, but potentially could drift outside of Syria?

BLITZER: He said in an interview with Charlie Rose that if you, the United States, attack, launch military strikes, he said he will respond anything -- he said expect anything.

OBAMA: Yes. BLITZER: Not only from him, but from his allies. That sounds like a threat to the United States.

OBAMA: Yes. Mr. Assad doesn't have a lot of capability. He has capability relative to children. He has capability relative to an opposition that is still getting itself organized and are not professional trained fighters. He doesn't have a credible means to threaten the United States.


BOLDUAN: Our own Wolf Blitzer interviewing the president yesterday.

And a reminder, President Obama will be addressing the nation tonight, 9:00 pm Eastern. You don't want to miss it.

Chris, over to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A Florida man has pleaded guilty to tricking his pregnant girlfriend into taking an abortion pill. The young woman later miscarried. And the case is as troubling as it is unusual. In a NEW DAY exclusive, Remee Lee joins us live and she'll be with us in just a moment. But first, let's take a closer look at her story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell me what it meant to your sister (ph).

CUOMO (voice-over): John Andrew Welden walked out of court Monday after pleading guilty to charges stemming from tricking his pregnant, ex-girlfriend, Remee Lee, into taking an abortion pill that caused her miscarriage. Lee is still grieving the loss.

GIL SANCHEZ, REMEE LEE'S ATTORNEY: Nothing is ever going to bring back what was taken from her, no matter what the result, whether this would have gone to trial or not.

CUOMO: The bizarre story unfolded earlier this year. Lee was elated to be pregnant, but says Welden, the father, begged her not to have the baby. Then, in an elaborate plan, Welden convinced Lee she'd been diagnosed with a bacterial infection by his father, an obstetrician, and that he had prescribed her the antibiotic amoxicillin. In reality, Welden stole his father's prescription pad to obtain Cytotec, the abortion pill, and disguised it as the antibiotic, even forging a phony label. Lee was baffled and devastated.

REMEE LEE: I can't believe that someone did something so malicious to me.

CUOMO: Originally charged with first degree murder, Welden faced a possible life sentence. But as part of a deal, he pleaded guilty to lesser charges, product tampering and conspiracy to commit fraud.

TODD FOSTER, JOHN WELDEN'S ATTORNEY: Obviously it's tragic all around from every angle. And I think that's recognized.

CUOMO: Welden could serve up to 15 years in prison. But Lee says there will never be justice for the man who caused her to lose her child.


CUOMO: All right, joining us exclusively now is Remee Lee and her attorney, Mr. Gil Sanchez.

Thank you to both of you for being here.


CUOMO: Listen, I appreciate it. There's a lot here that matters. But I want to start with the obvious. How are you doing now?

LEE: Horrible. Every day is a nightmare for me ever since this began.

CUOMO: Because?

LEE: It's just been the most devastating loss. Everything that's happened.

CUOMO: But just so we understand, you guys are 26 and 28 years old. We're not talking about frightened teenagers here. Had there ever been any discussion with your boyfriend about maybe we'll have a baby or not? Was that ever on the table?

LEE: Both sides were on the table of, you know, having children. That's something I always expressed a great interest in. Maybe not now, but in the future. I've always had that passion. It's been my number one goal is to be a mom. And I also expressed an interest that if that ever did happen, there would be no way that I would terminate any pregnancy.

CUOMO: So he knew?

LEE: He knew.

CUOMO: So you get pregnant. A complete surprise? A shock?

LEE: A blessing.

CUOMO: A blessing.

LEE: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: And you tell your boyfriend. And his reaction at the beginning?

LEE: Typical man. Very scared, negative. You know, questioning what's going to happen. And, you know, it was going to be fine either way.

CUOMO: And what was his disposition in terms of what you should do with the baby? Was it open, I'm worried, or was it, I don't want the baby?

LEE: You have to terminate the pregnancy.

CUOMO: From the beginning?

LEE: From the beginning.

CUOMO: And what was that like between the two of you? How unhealthy did the energy get? Did it end the relationship, this discussion?

LEE: It made things -- it went from being the most wonderful relationship with someone I truly cared about, you know, emotionally - just this wonderful, loving feeling, to a light switch being switched. Like who is this person?

CUOMO: The big moment here early on in terms of his criminality is when he convinces you that his father had diagnosed you with an infection. How did that come to be?

LEE: Well, we went and did the sonogram. We got checked out. Everything was great, fine, fabulous, wonderful at that point. The next - you know, they took my blood. He told me that the lab results would be back the next day. When they were, he gave me a call. Well, you know, everything is fine except you have this slight infection. A light amoxicillin will clear it up. I'll bring --

CUOMO: He being your boyfriend?

LEE: Yes.

CUOMO: Not his father?

LEE: Correct.

CUOMO: Was it weird to you that you were hearing from him and not the doctor?

LEE: No, sir.

CUOMO: Because?

LEE: Oh, he was the -- purported to me that he had been a medical doctor in training himself. He was supposed to be in his last year at USF Medical School.

CUOMO: When did you learn what had been done to you?

LEE: I learned the horrible truth when -- for sure when I was in the hospital.


LEE: The doctor told me that, of course, you know, there was no more life.

CUOMO: And you had lost your baby. That, alone, was horrible for you to take. I can only imagine. But when did you then learn that this wasn't the way the body was just following its normal course during that particular pregnancy, that this had been manipulated by a drug? LEE: Just -- you know, just seeing their reactions whenever I gave them the medication and I said, you know, this is the amoxicillin I'd been taking and the pharmacist looked at me, this isn't amoxicillin. And then I asked, well, you know, my boyfriend works here. He's -- no, he doesn't work here. It was just one thing on top of another.

CUOMO: How did you handle hearing that, as it sunk in, that you had been deceived by someone you loved?

LEE: Even hearing the guilty verdict yesterday, I - it's hard to believe it. It's hard to read it and know that this actually happened to me.

CUOMO: The charges initially were murder.

LEE: There were no charges initially. It took a month and a half for charges to come about. He walked the streets a free man for a month and a half, nothing. There were no charges. Florida doesn't have any state laws against this.

CUOMO: So you stayed on it. You pressed the prosecutors and the police and eventually there were charges, but then there was a deal. When you listened to the charges that he pled guilty to, they seem much less than what was taken from you. But you say there's a little bit of a satisfaction for you in that he pleaded guilty. Why?

LEE: He told the truth. And that's one thing I know that he's had a lot of problems with in his life, is being honest with himself and with other people. And I feel very proud of him that he was able to take responsibility for his actions.

CUOMO: On one level.

LEE: One level, yes.

CUOMO: But on another level, you still feel that there is not justice here, right?

LEE: Nothing will ever bring back what I've lost. Nothing will ever bring back Memphis (ph).

CUOMO: Memphis. What did you -- you had a name for the child already?

LEE: Yes.

CUOMO: What was the name?

LEE: Memphis Remington Welden.

CUOMO: Why Memphis Remington?

LEE: Because he loved Memphis. That's where he spent a lot of his time during his youth. And we always spoke about it. And I always wanted to go visit him. We share a love for the king that hails, you know, from Memphis. And, you know, Remington, I thought, would be, you know, from my name as well. CUOMO: Do you believe he regrets what he did?

LEE: I don't know. I'd love to know.

CUOMO: No more contact, obviously?

LEE: No.

CUOMO: Do you want there to be contact?

LEE: I always wanted there to be. This isn't what I wanted. None of this is what I wanted. I just wanted my pregnancy, even if he would have left me alone and had never seen me again or never seen the child, I just wanted that. That's it.

CUOMO: The baby mattered the most?

LEE: Yes.

CUOMO: Now you said earlier, Florida doesn't have any laws to protect the unborn child.

LEE: Not up to 23 weeks, I believe. Up to that point, there's no statutory --

CUOMO: It's all politics and math until you have something growing inside you, isn't it? When you had that baby growing inside of you and you lost it, what did it make you realize about when it became your child?

LEE: Nothing else matters in this world to me. Everything I thought was important before, it just took a really be change when this blessing came into my life. And I thought it was a new life for me. Now it -- there's no words to just the horror I wake up to every day, that this is my reality. There's no escaping it. There's no turning it off.

CUOMO: And as difficult as it is for you to deal with this and watch the case, what brings you here, what gives you energy, you say, is that you want to fight for the rights of the unborn now. You want to support passage of a protection of unborn children statute in Florida, yes?

LEE: Yes. I never want this to happen to anybody else.

CUOMO: And what motivates you is that you want somebody's pregnancy to be respected in a way that it isn't now, is that what it is?

LEE: Correct. Yes, I don't want anybody to think that they can do this if there is any right, that he had any choice in this matter. There was no choice to be left up to him. This was my choice and he took that away from me.

CUOMO: So what do you say to people who are going to hear your story and feel, obviously, terrible for you, but they have their own ideas about when life begins and abortion rights, reproductive rights? What is your message?

LEE: Well, you know, everybody has -- entitled to their own opinion, but they need to respect the rights of others. And this is - this was a life. This was a life not only for myself, but for my parents. This would have been their first grandchild. This would have been my great - you know, the first great grandchild in our family. This isn't something that just impacted me. And that's one thing about these laws. You know, when a child is lost, sometimes the mother is lost as well, but it's really two people that are gone now, you know? That's all the expect -all those expectations are just lost.

CUOMO: And what do you say to him? What do you say to the man who did this?

LEE: May have -- God have mercy on your soul.

CUOMO: I wish you good luck going forward.

LEE: Thank you.

CUOMO: You're young. You've got a lot of life in front of you. And good luck with what you're doing. Thank you for coming on.

LEE: I appreciate it.

CUOMO: And, Gil, thank you to you also. Appreciate you being here and allowing this to happen.


CUOMO: All right we're going to take a break now on NEW DAY. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

Sooner rather than later, that's the message from the new study from Harvard University that found 70 percent of the women studied who were diagnosed in their 40's and later died of breast cancer had never had a mammogram before diagnosis. Just as alarming the study found that half of the cancer deaths they looked at were in women diagnosed before the age of 50.

Let's talk about all of this and what it means for you with Dr. Jennifer Caudle. This is going to grab a lot of women's attention.

And look we -- the -- when to start screening has been confusing and it seems to get only more confusing. And that's why I think it's so important that we talk to you. What surprises you about this study, this latest study? What's your take?

DR. JENNIFER CAUDLE, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: Well this study of course, as you mentioned over 600 people were looked at; 70 percent had not been screened or had been over two years; 49 years was the median age of diagnosis. Study of research was really concluded from the study that's based on this they say we should probably be screening women younger than 50 years old.

Now that's sort of different than what the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendation is now. In 2009 remember they came out saying that we should start screening women at the age of 50 and every two years until 74.

So this has really caused a lot of people to ask questions and say, you know, what are we supposed to do exactly?

BOLDUAN: And they constantly, they -- what they're doing -- everyone is trying to make the best recommendations.


BOLDUAN: They're always weighing catching cancer early and also -- but also balancing that with the risks of over diagnosis --

CAUDLE: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: -- which is difficult. So if you're a 45-year-old woman sitting this morning, watching this, what is your best recommendation for her?

CAUDLE: Well first of all, this is one thing I want to say to all women out there. Don't panic. For all the women out there that are stressed out about what to do, when they should get their mammograms, trust me, there are just as many doctors that we're sort of scratching our heads, there's been passing debates and lots of discussions.

You know this is really sort of a -- a controversial topic. Let's just be very clear. And while the USPST says start screening at 50, many other organizations still say start at the age of 40.

So my point with that is you ask what should a woman at 45 do, to be honest with you, in a clinical practice I see just as many physicians starting screening at age 40 as I do 50 and the same with patients in terms of what they recommend. You know remember when we look at studies and this is how we make national recommendations -- we have to look at lots of information, lots of people, lots of data that come to our conclusions.

The best thing women can do is to talk with their doctor. Because your risk factors will determine exactly what you should be doing and the timing of such.

BOLDUAN: Start that conversation earlier rather than later?

CAUDLE: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Jennifer Caudle, always great to see you and get your take. Thank you so much.

CAUDLE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We're going to take a break. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: All right. It's back to school time. That means a lot of school expenses between clothes and supplies are very expensive. Many families have to use layaway as a result. Now imagine if your layaway plan was suddenly paid off by a mystery donor. She wanted no credit and she had to leave quickly, the donor needed to leave quickly because she told the clerk she didn't feel good. And it turns out she is terminally ill. She refused to give her name and didn't want any credit, she said she just wanted to do some good before she died.


CUOMO: And that is simple good stuff.

PEREIRA: Sobering.

CUOMO: Sweet and to the point.

BOLDUAN: The little thing.

CUOMO: This woman is suffering and she wanted to use her time here to help others. And she did it in a way that she could help those who will exist after her.

PEREIRA: What a blessing.

CUOMO: And that is "The Good Stuff."

BOLDUAN: That's why we do it. All right we'll be right back after a break.


CUOMO: That is it for us here on NEW DAY but guess what; "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Hello my friend.

PEREIRA: Hi Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, have a great day. Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: You too.

COSTELLO: "NEWSROOM" starts now.

And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me.

We do begin with breaking news out of Syria that could stop -- stop a potential U.S. military strike. Just about an hour ago, Syria announced it will accept a Russian proposal. Syria's chemical weapons will be placed under international control and Syria's foreign minister says the deal was done to avoid American aggression.

And this breakthrough comes just hours before President Obama heads to Capitol Hill to make his case to Senate Democrats and Republicans. And later tonight, the President will lay out his case to you, the American people, in a prime time address.