Miss. governor doesn’t rule out banning contraception if Roe falls

By Amy B Wang and Silvia Foster-Frau May 8, 2022|Updated May 8, 2022 at 6:21 p.m. EDT

  • GOP governors in Mississippi and Arkansas on May 8 defended abortion “trigger laws,” some which don’t include exceptions for rape, incest or mother’s health.
  • Mississippi governor Reeves confirmed that, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a trigger law passed in Mississippi in 2007 would go into effect that essentially outlaws abortions in the state.
  • Louisiana Republicans advanced a bill that would charge abortion as homicide and grant constitutional rights to a person “from the moment of fertilization.”
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility that his state would ban certain forms of contraception.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility that his state would ban certain forms of contraception, sidestepping questions about what would happen next if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Reeves confirmed that, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a trigger law passed in Mississippi in 2007 would go into effect that essentially outlaws abortions in the state, although it makes exceptions for rape and for the life of the mother.

When asked if Mississippi might next target the use of contraceptives such as the Plan B pill or intrauterine devices, Reeves demurred, saying that was not what the state was focused on “at this time.”

“My view is that the next phase of the pro-life movement is focusing on helping those moms that maybe have an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy,” Reeves said. “And while I’m sure there will be conversations around America regarding [contraceptives], it’s not something that we have spent a lot of time focused on.”

Reeves’s comments come days after Louisiana Republicans advanced a bill that would charge abortion as homicide and grant constitutional rights to a person “from the moment of fertilization.” That language could also restrict the use of emergency contraception and other methods that seek to prevent a fertilized embryo from implanting in the uterus.

On Sunday, Reeves said he thinks “life begins at conception” but repeatedly avoided answering whether he meant at the moment of an egg’s fertilization or when an embryo attaches to the womb.

“What I’m saying is, again, this is a debate that we can have once the actual court makes their ruling, once the actual words are on the page,” Reeves said. “We believe that the overturning of Roe is the correct decision by the court. And so, in Mississippi, we don’t — we don’t have laws on the books that would lead to arresting individuals or anything along those lines.”

While Mississippi’s trigger law banning abortion would include exceptions for rape and for the life of the mother, it does not include any exceptions for incest.

Reeves did not respond directly to questions about whether victims of incest should be forced to carry a child to term.

Reeves is not the only Republican leader looking ahead to what the overturn of Roe could mean for laws in their states. Many are grappling with the question of whether to include exceptions for rape and incest victims.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) expressed uneasiness about his state’s ban, which makes exceptions for women facing medical emergencies but not for rape or incest cases.

“I expressed whenever I signed the law that I would prefer the rape and incest exception to be in there. And even though we have a trigger law I expect those exceptions to be a significant part of the debate in the future,” Hutchinson said.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who supports abortion restrictions but who has spoken out in the past about being a victim of rape, said she would support legislation that permits abortions for victims of rape and incest.

“When you realize what’s happened in your life, the trauma, the emotional, the mental, the physical trauma in a woman’s life, that decision — she should make that decision with her doctor and between her and her God,” Mace said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” She noted that South Carolina’s law included those exceptions after she spoke up about her rape.

The issue has also prompted Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, the House’s lone antiabortion Democrat, to clarify his position.

“My faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would criminalize teenage victims of rape and incest,” Cuellar said in a recent statement. “That same faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would make a mother choose between her life and her child’s.”

The stunning leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe has galvanized Senate Democrats to set up a vote this week to codify abortion rights into federal law — an effort that is expected to fail to gain the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and pass.

“I think the question that voters are going to be asking is … who should make this decision?” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Should it be a woman and her doctor or a politician? Should it be [Sen.] Ted Cruz [(R-Tex.)] making this decision or a woman and her family? Where are women’s equal rights?”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), who has been among the many Democrats to call for the filibuster to be eliminated to pass abortion rights legislation with only 50 votes, called it “the biggest fight of a generation.”

“If America’s people — America’s women and men who love them — do not fight right now, we will lose the basic right to make decisions, to have bodily autonomy, and to decide what our futures look like,” Gillibrand said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

She also said the issue would be on the ballot in November’s midterm elections.

“We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [(R-Ky.) do] not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life-and-death decisions,” Gillibrand said. “We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.”

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