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Refusal of Abortion Causes Woman's Death in Ireland, Sparking Protests; Baby Boomer Stars Maintain Popularity

Aired November 23, 2012 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": The Taliban is claiming responsibility for a fatal car bombing near Kabul today.

Three people were killed, 90 others injured, among them, women and children.

The Taliban says the attack was in retaliation for the execution of four Taliban members.

Well, scenes like this one are breaking out across Europe. Look.

People there are protesting Ireland's strict abortion laws and it all started when one woman showed up at a hospital, begging for an abortion.

For three days, she suffered in agony, doctors refusing to remove the fetus that would slowly kill her.

CNN's Nic Robertson sat down with her grieving husband who has some serious accusations about the circumstances surrounding her death.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He has lost his wife and now fears the truth behind her tragic death may be lost, too.

PRAVEEN HALAPPANAVAR, SAVITA'S HUSBAND: We've some tampering of -- you know, the some medical records. So, basically, some key information in the medical records is missing.

ROBERTSON: Praveen and Savita Halappanavar met in India, married and set up home in Ireland, four years ago.

He is an engineer. She was a dentist. They were happy here.

HALAPPANAVAR: She loved dancing. She forced me to dance with her on a couple of times on the stage. We gave a performance and that will be the fondest memories, I suppose, you know.

I have never gone on a stage. I never that. I always had the stage fear to go and speak and (INAUDIBLE) and the belief she gave me. It was unbelievable.

ROBERTSON: Together, they had dreams of a beautiful future, of children, their children, of having a family.

HALAPPANAVAR: She was looking forward, basically you know. In a way she found that, you know, she's at the right place, you know what I mean? So, that's the reason she knew.

And she was very well organized. as well, you know? She knew what she wanted in life. So, and that's the reason why she decided to settle here on the long-term.

ROBERTSON: When Savita became pregnant, they were overjoyed. Then their ordeal began.

Savita got back pain. Here at Galway University Hospital, doctors told her she was miscarrying. Her baby would likely die.

Savita's husband says they asked for a termination and were told this is a Catholic country, not while the fetus is alive.

HALAPPANAVAR: So, we requested for a termination. We wanted to go back, you know, go home and, you know, think about the next pregnancy because it was a planned pregnancy. We were so happy. We wanted to have babies.

ROBERTSON: Three days after the request, the fetus died, was removed.

Four days later, Savita was dead from a blood infection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bodies, our lives.

ROBERTSON: Ireland has been outraged. Protests in support of Savita, not just here, but across the world, have urged the country's politicians to update abortion laws, prevent similar tragedies.

There has been political fallout, too. Abortion is a hot-button issue in Ireland. The prime minister is under pressure to get Halappanavar to help a health-service inquiry.

Government steps so far have done little to inspire Halappanavar not just, he says, because they took weeks before announcing an inquiry, but when they did, three of the seven medical professionals on the investigation team were from the same hospital here where his wife died.

Although they have now been replaced, other issues remain.

Not the least of which, the missing medical records. Records the hospital declined our request to comment on.

HALAPPANAVAR: Basically made a request for termination and then there is no notes for a request at all in any of the medical notes.

And also there is -- the response from the doctor is not in the medical records either.

ROBERTSON: What do you think has happened to it? HALAPPANAVAR: We don't know. And it is just strange that there is all of the information in there for, suppose, you know, when we requested for a cup of tea and toast and, you know, things like an extra blanket was given. All that is in the medical notes.

ROBERTSON: He says he will settle for nothing less than a full public inquiry where the health service, not just his wife's death, is investigated.

HALAPPANAVAR: Every single family person asked me how could this happen in a country like Ireland in the 21st century because it was just so simple.

When they knew that the baby was not going to survive, why wait? Think about the bigger life, which was the mother, my wife, Savita, and they didn't.

ROBERTSON: All he wants, he says, is the truth.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ireland.


BLACKWELL: Back here in the U.S., as folks on Thanksgiving break head to movies or concerts, there is a pretty good chance they'll be going to see baby boomers.

We're taking a look at how and why these stars are not going anywhere.


KEITH RICHARDS, THE ROLLING STONES: Who will calls it quits will be the public, not us, you know?

When they say, we've had enough of you, we'll disappear gracefully, you know?



BLACKWELL: You know, they say some things get better with age -- wine, cheese, and Hollywood stars.

CNN's Nischelle Turner takes a look at Hollywood's baby boomers.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Just try counting the stars born between 1946 and 1964.

That's Hollywood, baby, booming with entertainers who, decades after they debuted, are still delivering the goods to the 80 million Americans aged 48 to 66 who first made them famous.

LESLEY JANE SEYMOUR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "MORE": The baby boomers did change everything. They created the "Me Generation," the "Youth Generation," but guess what?

When you hold onto that power, economically and in the press, you don't let go just because you're 60. You keep it going.

TURNER: Witness, The Rolling Stones. The Brits' first rock bobby- socksers kids when they hit the States in the mid'60s.

Now, those kids are in their mid-60s. The band members, pushing their 70s. And when they announced their tour last month, they sold out American arenas in minutes.

RICHARDS: Who will call it quits will be the public, not us, you know?

When they said we had enough of you, we'll disappear gracefully, you know?

TURNER: The idea that Hollywood glamour equals youth, that's old thinking.

Just ask Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora. He's 53, filling stadiums and feeling fine.

RICHIE SAMBORA, BON JOVI: I feel younger and better now, I think, than I did in my 20s, believe it or not. You know, I feel more in touch, more present, more involved in life.

TURNER: Being of a certain age is no longer bad for business, says "MORE" magazine's editor-in-chief.

SEYMOUR: Right now, you know, you've got a serious financial problem with the Millennials.

You now have to wake up and say, let's see, who's got the money to go to the movies.

It is people who have some economic power and it's not going to just be the 20-somethings.

TURNER: Proving that Cruise, Keaton, Weaver, Fields, the Bruces -- Springsteen and Willis -- Meryl, Mirren, Bette, Baldwin, been around for decades, with a fan-base still paying to see their new projects.

SEYMOUR: They're still doing the top movies. They're still doing the top Broadway shows. They're creating new series. They're reinventing themselves at the top of their game.

TURNER: And inspiring their cohorts.

SAMBORA: Look at The Rolling Stones. If they're any benchmark, damn.

MICK JAGGER, THE ROLLING STONES: Yeah, it's 50 years. When we started, there wasn't bands that had been 50 years.

So, now, if you're if a band, you go like, well, we could be like that. So, you know, there is already a role model for that. A good or a bad role model? I can't say.

TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


BLACKWELL: Still rocking.

Hey, a monumental lesson in rejection and persistence goes on the auction block next week in London.

I'm talking about an audition tape, rejected by a record executive who said guitar groups are on the way out.

Well, that rejected guitar group turned out to be The Beatles and we all know how that worked out.

Now, 50 years after what's been called the biggest blunder in music history, a copy of The Beatles Decca audition tape has surfaced.

Listen closely, Beatles fans, to this report from CNN's Phil Han.


PHIL HAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were four unknown guys in 1962. John, Paul, George and Pete, trying to break into the music business by making this audition tape.

They handed Decca Records their demo which included this song, "Three Cool Cats." But the group was rejected by the record company and told they had no future in show business, that groups like theirs were on the way out.

Boy, were they wrong.

TED OWEN, AUCTIONEER, THE FAME BUREAU: The quality is absolutely -- it is like you're sitting in a cinema when you have headphones on.

It's absolutely brilliant and that's the most amazing part about this tape is the quality.

HAN: The Beatles recorded a total of 10 songs on the demo, listing all of them on this handwritten tape cover, songs including "Money," "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" and this one -- "Searching."

This is the first time the audition tape is being heard in public and it could be yours.

OWEN: Well, anyone who spends over $20,000 on it, it is going to be, you know, they're going to be telling everybody on the planet that they own it, you know? So, it is a trophy.

HAN: But if you can't afford the price tag and are a Beatles fan, at least now you know how it all began.

Phil Han, CNN, London.


BLACKWELL: A bizarre twist in the mysterious murder of an Iranian student in Texas.

Now, a close friend of the student is also found dead.

We're "On the Case," next.


BLACKWELL: And now that bizarre new twist in a Houston murder case we have been following.

It started 10 months ago with the murder of an Iranian-born medical student. The murder of Gelareh Bagherzadeh remains unsolved. Police say there are few clues.

They do know she was an outspoken critic of human rights abuses in Iran and a convert from Islam to Christianity.

She was gunned down in her car as she drove home, but get this. Now, her boyfriend's twin brother has been murdered.

The body of Coty Beavers was found in his home, riddled with bullets.

Attorney Midwin Charles is "On the Case."

You know this case. You know this story. Your hunch, is this a really rare unbelievable coincidence? Or should police really be looking for a connection here?

MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think it's a coincidence. I mean, I think the correlation between the two families just begs the question. There must be a connection here.

And as you've said in your intro, this young man's wife, as well as Gelareh were recent converts to Christianity from Islam, so that begs the question as to whether or not this was somehow politically motivated.

But I do want to point out that Gelareh's brother had given a press conference in which he said he didn't believe that at least her murder was politically motivated.

BLACKWELL: All right. I want to play for you a statement from a friend of the Iranian student and then we'll talk on the other side.


KATHY SOLTANI, BAGHERZADEH'S FRIEND: Everybody starts thinking and they say, OK, maybe it's connected because they knew each other.

This was, one, at his apartment and my friend was killed behind her home, so there must be some motive behind all of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: What do we make of this student, Gelareh's outspokenness as it related to the Iranian government and this happening and the police kind of saying maybe there's nothing here.

I mean, do you think there could be some relation to that?

CHARLES: Well, it sounds as though there is and I certainly hope that the police are doing the best that they can to investigate that further.

I mean, this woman was bright. She was sharp. She was a medical student. She was outspoken with respect to her critique on human rights abuses by the Iranian government.

So, that almost begs the question, particularly since her death was so violent and clear that she was the intended target as well as her boyfriend's twin brother.

So, it almost begs the question after all, what else would it be, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Let's talk also about the religious element, her conversion from Islam to Christianity.


BLACKWELL: Could that have some role here?

CHARLES: It could. Unfortunately, given the role that she played in being outspoken, she was the co-founder of an organization -- I believe it was called SabzHouston -- that really was outspoken in criticizing the Iranian government.

And the fact she converted from Islam to Christianity, it could open that window of criticism from those who thought that that was not the appropriate thing to do.

BLACKWELL: Still a lot of questions and we hope to get some answers. Midwin Charles, thank you for that.

CHARLES: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: The fight to stay clean and sober, one man found a way for himself and thousands of other recovering addicts to stay clean.

Find out how when you meet this CNN Hero. That's coming up next.


BLACKWELL: The Thanksgiving leftovers are still in the fridge, a lot turning turkey into turkey salad today, but it's time to talk about Christmas at the White House.

First lady Michelle Obama was presented with the official White House Christmas tree.




BLACKWELL: Daughters Sashay and Malia and Michelle Obama giving it a thumbs-up.

Meanwhile, the Oregon State University men's basketball team got the Thanksgiving treat this evening. This is a picture of the president with the team joking around

The first lady invited the team and her brother, who's the coach, to dinner with the family.

Well, after beating his addiction to drugs and alcohol, Scott Strode turned to sports to fill the void left behind and what worked for Scott is now helping thousands of others stay sober while experiencing a healthy high.

Scott is one of CNN's top Heroes for 2012. Scott, it's good to have you with us.

SCOTT STRODE, TOP TEN CNN HERO: Thanks for having me, Victor.

BLACKWELL: We know this starts with a very difficult period for you. You hit rock bottom. Tell us your story.

STRODE: Well, I started using at a pretty young age. I had a lot of emotional pain and stuff in my childhood that led me to drinking and drugs pretty early in my adolescence.

And I used pretty hard until I was about 24 until I finally got sober.

BLACKWELL: How did you turn that into getting off drugs and turning to sports to fill that void?

STRODE: You know, when I got sober I started doing different activities. I started climbing, I started in the boxing gym.

And every time I climbed a mountain or had the courage to get in the ring for the first time, it just started to shift my self-esteem

So after a bunch of years sober, I thought how do we give this to other people? I saw a lot of people in recovery being stuck in isolation, a lot of fear about the relapse.

So, I thought let's take them in the mountains and see what happens.

BLACKWELL: And what happened?

STRODE: It's just so transformative. Anyone who's crossed the finish line or stood on top of a mountain knows it changes something in your heart.

And I think for folks in recovery it's just a really profound experience. A lot of us get into that because we have a trauma history and other stuff, so we decide to kind of quiet that noise by picking up a drink.

And this is just a way for us to rebuild our self-esteem and new identity through sport.

BLACKWELL: And what's it been like to watch people change to go from that addiction to feeling the high of achieving something that they otherwise did not think they could?

STRODE: It's been amazing. When we first started Phoenix, we had a handful of people come through, you know, the first year about 87 people. And now we've served about 7,000 people.

So, to see all those folks think that they can just do whatever they put their mind to, that transfers over and becomes part of their recovery, as well, it's really special.

BLACKWELL: Clearly, you were nominated by someone who knows your work is that special . And what's it feel like?

What did it feel like when you found out you were a CNN Hero finalist?

STRODE: I was really touched and moved by that.

You know, I think that CNN to tell the story -- the hopeful story -- of recovery is something pretty special.

I think often, when we see substance abuse in the media, it's pretty negative. It's when people are falling from grace.

And the truth is recovery works. And there's a lot of people out there living sober full lives.

And it's great that CNN is featuring that.

BLACKWELL: And your message, I'm sure, to people who are struggling with addiction is that it is possible.

STRODE: Yes. It is possible to get clean. And it is possible to have a full life after addiction.

You know, whether it's drugs or behavioral addiction, whatever it is, there's hope out there. There's a lot of us out there living sober.

If you're struggling out there right now, we're here for you. You can reach out to us.

BLACKWELL: All right. Scott Strode, thank you very much.

Vote now for your favorite among the top ten CNN Heroes for 2012. Go to Cast your ballot.'

The winner will be announced and all ten winners honored live on December 2nd. Before we go, dense early morning fog is being blamed for that huge pile-up that killed two people and closed a Texas interstate for hours on Thanksgiving Day.

We learned that more than 100 cars and trucks were involved in this chain-reaction crash.

Look at this. Eighty to 100 people were sent to hospitals Again, this is Thanksgiving Day.

A Texas couple, grandparents in their 60s, they were killed when an 18-wheeler crashed into their car. Their son, as you'd imagine, is heartbroken.



My dad and I, we worked together. We had a good relationship. We got to spend time together golfing and fishing. I'm so thankful for that now.


BLACKWELL: Well, troopers are still investigating the situation.

I'm Victor Blackwell in for Brooke Baldwin.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" starts now.