Gov. Reeves discusses what’s ahead for Mississippi if Roe v. Wade is overturned

“We’ve started doing the hard work of what a post-Roe Mississippi will look like,” Gov. Reeves said Sunday morning.
On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper pressed Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves about a...
On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper pressed Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves about a 2007 trigger law questioning why it doesn’t have an exception for victims of incest or rape.(CNN)
Published: May. 8, 2022 at 1:36 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Governor Tate Reeves made the rounds of the political talk shows Sunday morning to discuss Mississippi’s future if the Supreme Court sides with the state in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That’s the case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, and send the issue of legal abortion back to the states.

Monday, a draft opinion on the case was leaked signaling that the nation’s highest court will strike down the current law. There’s no word on when the court’s decision will be officially published.

If it happens as outlined in the draft, and Roe is overturned, Mississippi is one of 13 states with a trigger law that would immediately ban abortion in the state.

On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper pressed Governor Reeves about that 2007 law questioning why it doesn’t have an exception for victims of incest or rape.

“Why is it acceptable in your state to force girls who are victims of incest to carry those children to term?” Tapper asked.

Reeves said the number of abortions in America that are linked to incest is less than 1%.

“And if we need to have that conversation in the future about potential exceptions in the trigger law, we can certainly do that,” Reeves said.

Tapper pressed forward asking why there are no exceptions for a fetus with severe abnormalities that wouldn’t be able to live outside the womb.

“I think that these questions illustrate exactly what we’ve been talking about and that is you’re dealing in examples that are rare and a small percentage of the overall abortions,” Reeves said.

The governor then called America’s abortion laws “extreme” compared to the rest of the western world.

“Even if the court did not overturn Roe, even if they just decided to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week ban, 39 out of 42 countries in Europe would still have more restrictive abortion laws,” Reeves said. “The vast majority of Americans support restrictions that are reasonable on abortions. And the overturning of Roe is simply going to return those decision making processes back to the individual legislatures in all 50 states.”

Tapper then asked the governor what state leaders think will happen to women and girls who might have previously sought an abortion, if they no longer have that option.

“Mississippi, according to your State Department of Health, has about 3,500 abortions a year. Has the state done any analysis of what the state thinks will happen to those women and girls if this law goes into effect?” Tapper asked. “How many unwanted pregnancies will results in deliveries? How many will result in women and girls dying because they seek out unsafe methods? Have you done an analysis that way?”

“Not only have we done an analysis, we’ve started doing the hard work of what a post-Roe Mississippi will look like,” Reeves said.

The governor detailed ways Mississippi is already taking action to support expectant mothers. He pointed to a recent increase in funding to 37 pregnancy resource centers all across the state.

“The next phase of the Pro-Life movement is about what are we doing to help those babies that do go to full-term?” Reeves said. “We’re focused on making adoption easier in Mississippi. We’re focusing on improving our foster care system. We’ve had challenges in the past and we recognize that.”

To that end, Reeves said Mississippi is investing more than $100 million to improve technology at the Department of Human Services and Child Protective Services.

Tapper countered saying, “Mississippi, as you know, has the highest rate of infant mortality in the United States. You have the highest rate of child poverty in the United States. Your state has no guaranteed maternity leave that’s paid. The legislature in Mississippi just rejected extending post-partum Medicaid coverage. Your foster care system is also the subject of a long-running federal lawsuit over its failure to protect children from abuse... You say you want to do more to support mothers and children, but you’ve been in state government since 2004... Based on the track record of the state of Mississippi, why should anyone believe you?”

“I believe in my heart that I was elected, not to try to hide our problems, but to try to fix our problems,” Reeves said in response. “We are focusing every day on fixing the challenges that are before us.”

The discussion continued from abortion and pregnancy to birth control. Some Republicans across the country and as close as Louisiana have called to restrict access to forms of birth control, like IUDs or Plan B pills, which would prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus.

“Just to be clear, you have no intention of seeking to ban IUDs or Plan B?” Tapper asked.

Reeves responded, “That is not what we’re focused on at this time.”

Before his appearance on CNN, Reeves tweeted that he would also appear on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday morning, and was looking forward to defending his position. The conversation with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd followed along the same lines as the one with Jake Tapper.

Todd asked Reeves if he’d sign legislation banning contraceptives in Mississippi.

“Well, I don’t think that’ll happen in Mississippi. I’m sure they will have those conversations in other states,” Reeves replied.

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