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News brief: Russia' Victory Day, Illinois abortion services, Philippine election

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Russia's biggest holiday, marking the end of World War II or what Soviets once called the Great Patriotic War.

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

People display the old Soviet flag. And orange and black ribbons are draped across the country to celebrate Victory Day. But the celebrations this year come amid frustration and defeat. Russian troops have suffered heavy losses in their invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin used a speech in Red Square to justify his attack.

INSKEEP: NPR's Frank Langfitt was listening to Putin from Ukraine. He's in the port city of Odesa. Hey there, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What did Putin say?

LANGFITT: Well, he claimed that Russia is the victim in all of this, even though, of course, Russia invaded Ukraine unprovoked. He said Russian troops, as in World War II, are now fighting Nazis in eastern Ukraine. That's a lie. And here is what he also had to say.

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PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Through interpreter) They have tried to attack our historical territories, like the Crimea. They have threatened to use nuclear war. And the West has supported these military actions carried out in our neighborhood. And that is why it was a threat we couldn't accept.

LANGFITT: Now, none of that is true. But it's clearly designed, Steve, to sort of use national mythology to generate support for a war of choice, which, you know, still isn't working after 2 1/2 months. One other thing is there was a lot of concern, I think, people watching this that President Putin might try to mobilize more troops. He did not say anything about that. So it's not clear what's next other than this war just continuing to grind on.

INSKEEP: Frank, I guess we should note that Ukraine was part of World War II, part of the Soviet Union at the time. It was a battlefield. Germans came one way, then Soviets came back the other way. Millions of people were killed. How is this moment being marked where you are?

LANGFITT: Totally, totally different, Steve. Right now, we're all sheltering indoors. And that's because the Ukrainian military says that there are six Russian ships, a couple of subs. They're out in the Black Sea - I can look out over the horizon right now from my hotel room - and that they're planning to attack the south today. We haven't had any missile strikes so far that I can tell in the Odesa area this morning. And, you know, no celebration for the Soviet military here. After all, you know, Russia has been at war with Ukraine since 2014. And yesterday, which is the date that the rest of Europe celebrates victory over the Nazis, people were riding bikes along the water, went out to seaside cafes. It was a lovely, sunny day. And that's how people spent it.

INSKEEP: Are people marking this anniversary at all in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine?

LANGFITT: Yeah, not in any sort of normal way, Steve. Russians have occupied the port city of Kherson. It's just to the east of us. And they put in their own government. Now, in the last few days, they were putting up billboards with hammers and sickles to celebrate Victory Day. They built a stage downtown. This morning, a Russian propaganda channel showed a video of people standing in a park, waving Soviet flags, carrying portraits of Soviet soldiers and saying, chanting, thank you, grandpa, for the victory. A vast majority in Kherson do not like the Russians there at all. And there were checkpoints set up in recent days to make sure nobody tried to protest this celebration.

INSKEEP: Did the fighting and evacuation of civilians stop for the holiday?

LANGFITT: The evacuations, Steve, did continue. About 174 people, mostly from Mariupol, they got out by bus last night. About, maybe, 36, 38 of them were from that underground maze beneath the steel factory that's been under siege there for so long. It is now not clear if there are any other civilians still trapped there. Another case out in the east as well, that terrible story of the school that was leveled by a Russian bomb - 60 people were missing, according to regional authorities there. They say there is still too much shelling for them to do any more excavating. And they presume that those 60 people have died.

INSKEEP: NPR's Frank Langfitt. Thanks so much.

LANGFITT: Good to talk, Steve.

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INSKEEP: If the Supreme Court should overturn abortion rights, abortion will instantly become illegal in many states and stay legal in others.

MARTINEZ: We have an update this morning for a state where it would be allowed. Abortion providers in Illinois expect patients from surrounding Midwestern states to flock there. So how do they prepare?

INSKEEP: NPR's Cheryl Corley is in Chicago. Cheryl, good morning.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: I guess we should just remind people - Illinois is a bluer state than many of the redder states surrounding it. So how many abortions does Illinois currently provide both for people within Illinois and people coming from out of state?

CORLEY: Well, the latest figures, Steve, are from 2020. And the Illinois Department of Public Health says in that year, there were 46,000 abortions in Illinois. In-state patients, at 36,000, made up the bulk of those. And there were slightly more than 9,600 out-of-state patients. And those numbers have both been on the rise since about 2014. And part of the reason this may be happening is because Illinois has fewer limitations on abortions - as you said, a bluer state. And unlike surrounding states, like Missouri, it's not going to automatically ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. And in 2019, it approved legislation that says reproductive health care, including abortions, is a fundamental right. So abortion rights advocates here in Illinois are just really paying close attention to what's happening in surrounding states. I spoke with Jennifer Welch. She's president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

JENNIFER WELCH: Here, we're a haven in the Midwest. And every state that touches us will probably lose access to care. And that is very concerning.

CORLEY: And that, of course, brings us back to numbers. She says, potentially, it could mean another 20,000 to 30,000 out-of-state residents coming to Illinois to seek abortions.

INSKEEP: How are facilities preparing for that many people?

CORLEY: Well, many of them say they've been preparing for years. And if we look at Planned Parenthood as an example, it expanded its facility. In downtown Chicago, it built a couple of new health centers near state lines in recent years - one near Wisconsin, another near Indiana. I visited that one. It's located in Flossmoor, Ill., about a half-hour drive from the Illinois-Indiana border. And that facility added more days for surgery, going from one day a week to two. It and other facilities use telehealth or video visits. And patients can either pick up abortion medication at a health center or have it mailed to an Illinois address. And that just frees up physical space at facilities for out-of-state visitors. And groups like the Chicago Abortion Fund help with barriers people may face in actually getting to Illinois, especially for patients who may find it difficult financially. They help pay for health centers, for appointments, arranging travel, that sort of thing.

INSKEEP: Let's just remember that if Roe v. Wade were overturned at the federal level, that throws the debate to every state. We heard an update from Georgia the other day, where there was a lieutenant governor debate. And every candidate was - said, yeah, I'll just - let's just ban it. Let's just ban abortion. That was their - about the next step in Georgia, at least among Republicans. What's the political debate like in Illinois?

CORLEY: Well, there's passion. There's motivation. The Illinois primary is late next month. It's a long shot that there will be enough Republicans unseating Democrats here to roll back any of the recent actions on abortion here.

INSKEEP: Cheryl, thanks so much.

CORLEY: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

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INSKEEP: Let's go to the Philippines now. The son of a former dictator is the frontrunner in presidential elections.

MARTINEZ: The elder Ferdinand Marcos ruled for two decades before an uprising in 1986. Critics accuse Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of running a disinformation campaign to restore the family to power. But he has had a big lead in the polls. His opponent is Leni Robredo, the outgoing vice president.

INSKEEP: With us now is NPR's Julie McCarthy in Manila. Julie, good morning.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Or maybe I should say good afternoon. You're in a different time zone there. Would you just describe...

MCCARTHY: That's right (laughter).

INSKEEP: Would you describe what you saw today? What was Election Day like?

MCCARTHY: Well, the Filipinos stood in lines that stretched for blocks to vote on what is a national holiday. It was hot. And machines broke down. But Filipinos took it in stride because it's a watershed election. And there are two different visions for the country - one that looks nostalgically to the past, that's the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. camp, and the other that looks to change direction after six years of President Rodrigo Duterte. And that's the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo.

INSKEEP: Yeah. I guess we should mention Leni Robredo did not run on a ticket with Duterte. She ran on her own steam. And she actually faced Marcos Jr. last time, didn't she?

MCCARTHY: That's exactly right. There's a deep rivalry between these two. With the last election, she beat Marcos Jr. for the vice presidency. And ever since, Marcos has maligned Robredo as a cheater. And social media picked up that fake claim. And now online trolls attack her intelligence and align her with communists. But Robredo has stayed on her anti-dynasty, clean government message. And in the Marcos dynasty, she's up against a juggernaut. Still, plenty of people told us they voted for Robredo. Eugene Manalastas (ph) said cronies of Marcos Sr. had muscled his family out of its printing business years ago. And he says Marcos Jr. has whitewashed those abuses. And he worries that revisionism is working for Marcos.

EUGENE MANALASTAS: He was able to brainwash, convince or rebrand their family name. That's the problem. I think social media has a lot to do with this.

INSKEEP: What do you hear from voters about that rewriting of the past?

MCCARTHY: Well, the Marcos voters, many of them accept this narrative that his father's regime was a, quote-unquote, "golden age," you know? There are a lot of young voters who were born after Marcos. And they never really learned the real history. But Benjamin Ano Nuevo (ph), who is 67, was more of a realist. He focused on Marcos' promises to help retirees. And when I asked him if it bothered him that Marcos had repackage the family history and airbrushed out these ugly episodes, here's what he said.

BENJAMIN ANO NUEVO: (Non-English language spoken).

MCCARTHY: "I'm not bothered by what Marcos said, lying. For me, I'm resolved to vote for him," Benjamin said. And he did. And what that illustrates, Steve, is how facts just don't seem to matter here. And that has analysts and citizens worried about whether disinformation will now be the formula for political success.

INSKEEP: Well, we'll find out pretty soon whether it was the formula for success in this election for which the results are not yet in. Julie, thanks so much.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Julie McCarthy is in Manila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.