Mississippi Governor Won't Rule Out a Possible Ban on Birth Control If 'Roe' Is Overturned

When Republican Gov. Tate Reeves was asked if Mississippi legislature would ban contraceptives he declined to answer, saying that it wasn’t a focus "at this time"

Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves. Photo: Rogelio V. Solis-Pool/Getty

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declined to rule out a possible state ban on forms of birth control if Roe v. Wade is overturned, saying only that it's "not what we are focused on at this time."

During an interview on CNN's State of the Union to discuss Mississippi's potential next steps if the Supreme Court votes to strike down Roe, which established the right to abortion, Reeves, a Republican, confirmed that a trigger law put in place in 2007 would immediately outlaw abortions in the state.

Host Jake Tapper then asked Reeves if Mississippi might outlaw contraceptives such as Plan B, known as the morning after pill, or intrauterine devices (IUDs), and the governor sidestepped the question, saying that it wasn't a focus "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 Sunday. "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."

Tapper had asked Reeves about contraception because in neighboring Louisiana, members of the state legislature have advanced a bill that would make abortion a homicide, and the wording allows for people with IUDs to be penalized.

"They're talking about not only criminally charging girls and women who get abortions as committing homicide, but they're also talking about defining the moment of conception as fertilization, which would theoretically … mean if you use an IUD [intrauterine device], you are committing murder," Tapper said.

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Reeves said that Mississippi's current focus is on how abortion laws will change if Roe falls, as it likely will next month. Last week, a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated that a majority on the Supreme Court will vote to overturn the right to abortion granted by Roe.

"We're focused on looking at — see[ing] what the court allows for," Reeves said. "The bill that is before the court is a 15-week [abortion] ban. We believe that the overturning of Roe is the correct decision by the court. And so, in Mississippi, we don't have laws on the books that would lead to arresting individuals or anything along those lines."

Reeves also said that he thinks "life begins at conception."

Mississippi's current trigger law would ban abortions in the state, with exceptions only for cases of rape or if the abortion-seeker's life is at stake. There are no exceptions for cases of incest.

Other Republican governors, like Alabama's Kay Ivey, reacted to the Supreme Court leak by vowing to also ban abortion if Roe falls. Alabama also has a trigger law, and Ivey said that her "prayer is that Roe v. Wade is overturned and that life prevails."

Meanwhile, Democratic governors like California's Gavin Newsom, Maine's Janet Mills, New York's Kathy Hochul and North Carolina's Roy Cooper, among others, have reiterated that abortion will remain legal in their states.

The U.S. Senate will also vote on Wednesday on the Women's Health Protection Act, which the House has already approved and would codify Roe into a nationwide law. But Democrats do not have enough votes to pass the legislation, with moderate Republicans like Maine's Susan Collins saying she would vote against it, and it is expected to fail.

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