Gov. Reeves defends Miss. abortion law ahead of SC oral arguments that could impact Roe v. Wade

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves defended his state’s restrictive abortion law on Sunday ahead of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this week that could decide the fate of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, framing the issue as one of states’ rights.

Reeves, a Republican, told NBC’s Chuck Todd during a “Meet The Press” segment that the state’s 2018 law barring most abortions after 15 weeks could actually be upheld without justices overturning Roe altogether, though he added that he thinks the Roe decision was “wrongly decided.”

“I believe, in a simple reading of the United States Constitution, that when Roe was decided in 1973, there is no fundamental right in our United States Constitution to an abortion,” Reeves said.

“And furthermore, Chuck, I believe very strongly that if you read the Constitution, there is nowhere in the Constitution that prohibits individual states, states like Mississippi, to limit access to abortions,” the governor said. “And so I think Roe was wrongly decided.”


(Video: NBC News)

Justices will begin hearing oral arguments in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on Wednesday. The case hinges on whether elective abortions before fetuses have developed to the point of viability are unconstitutional.

In the interview, Reeves pushed back on criticisms from the left to conservative support for choice when it comes to mask-wearing and COVID-19 vaccines, but not allowing women to choose an abortion. The Mississippi governor has blasted President Biden’s vaccine mandate as “ridiculous overreach.”

“The far-left loves to scream ‘my body, my choice,’ and what I would submit to you, Chuck, is they absolutely ignore the fact that in getting an abortion, there is an actual killing of an innocent, unborn child that is in that womb,” Reeves said.

He went on to say that he believes “the difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself,” which prompted Todd to counter that a “vaccine is about preventing spread. You could argue a vaccine mandate is a pro-life position.”

Reeves responded that White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has “made it very clear that the vaccine may not keep you from getting the virus, it may not keep you from spreading the virus, but it can keep you from ending up in the hospital.”

“That’s what’s been proven during this delta surge that we’ve seen in America is that the virus is continuing being spread even amongst those who are vaccinated,” the GOP governor added.

Pro-life lawmakers in red states, consisting mostly of Republicans, have been pushing in recent years to limit or challenge Roe with legislation placing restrictions on abortions. Pro-choice Democrats in blue states, meanwhile, are seeking to “codify Roe” with laws that protect access to abortion services.

Mississippi’s law was passed in 2018 but the state has never been able to enforce it because it has been blocked by successive federal courts.

Seven states, by comparison, have no gestational limits on abortion, which Reeves has likened to communist countries like China and North Korea rather than being in line with Western democracies.

“If Roe is overturned and this 15-week ban in Mississippi is allowed to go into effect, Mississippi will still have a law on the books in which 39 countries — 39 out of 42 in Europe — have more restrictive abortion laws than what I believe to be one of the most conservative states in the United States,” Reeves told Todd.

However, “abortion laws in California and New York, they are much more similar to those abortion laws in China and North Korea than they are to Europe or many other countries around the world,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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