Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Sunday defended his state’s law limiting abortion access ahead of oral arguments before the Supreme Court in a case that could decide the fate of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The Republican governor said that the state’s 2018 abortion law barring most abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation could be upheld without overturning Roe, which legalized abortion nationwide, but that he also said that he believes Roe 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,” Mr. Reeves told NBC host Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”
“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.”
The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which hinges on the question of whether elective abortions before fetal viability are unconstitutional.
The coronavirus pandemic has put a spin on the issue as pro-choice advocates accuse conservatives like Mr. Reeves of hypocrisy for advocating personal choice on vaccine mandates and masks, but not abortion.
Mr. Reeves, who has condemned the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates as a “ridiculous overreach,” disputed the comparison.
“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,” Mr. Reeves said.
He added that “the difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself,” prompting Mr. Todd to counter that a “vaccine is about preventing spread. You could argue a vaccine mandate is a pro-life position.”
Mr. Reeves replied that White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci “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.”
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“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,” he said.
Pro-life legislators, mainly Republicans, in red states have pushed in recent years to challenge Roe with aggressive limits on abortion, while pro-choice Democrats in blue state legislatures have sought to “codify Roe” with laws protecting abortion access.
The Mississippi bill was blocked by a court shortly after being signed into law and has never taken effect.
Seven states have no gestational limits on abortion access, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, which Mr. Reeves described as more in keeping with China and North Korea than 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,” Mr. Reeves said.
By contrast, he said “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.”