Medical Technology

Politicians are Split on Issues of Bodily Autonomy

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -The Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and several other Mississippi politicians make clear that they don’t believe the government should mandate vaccination against COVID-19. They have a different perspective regarding bodily autonomy, particularly when it comes time for woman or a girl to decide whether to opt for an abortion.

In arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 The Mississippi attorney general’s office was defending a 2018 state law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Scott Stewart, the state solicitor general, attempted to persuade the justices to uphold Roe v. Wade’s 1973 decision which legalized abortion in the United States. The 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling also confirmed Roe.

Reeves was lieutenant governor at the time that the 15-week ban became law. He has repeatedly stated that he is in favor of limiting abortion. When Reeves was on “Meet the Press” days prior to the Supreme Court arguments, the show showed a video of Reeves saying COVID-19 vaccine mandates were an attempt to “power grab” by the federal government.

In the context of the government rules that affect the body of people, host Chuck Todd asked Reeves: “Why should the state of Mississippi tell women what to do with their body? Why shouldn’t they enjoy the individual freedom of their body, particularly during the first 20 weeks?”

Reeves responded: “The far left love to scream, “My body is my decision.’ What I would like to say to you, Chuck, is they absolutely ignore the fact that in getting an abortion, there is the actual murder of a innocent unborn child that is in the womb.”

It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will take several months before ruling on the Mississippi case. Six conservative justices said they would uphold Mississippi’s law. Roe and Casey allow states to regulate abortion but not prohibit it until the point at which the fetus is viable at around 24 weeks. This would be a violation.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, was sued by the state during the administration of former Gov. The ban was signed by Phil Bryant (a Republican) in March 2018. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves (no connection to Tate Reeves), issued an order of temporary restraining that immediately put the law off from going into effect.

In a lengthy decision in November 2018 the judge Reeves stated that “this Court concludes that the Mississippi Legislature’s proclaimed interest in ‘women’s health’ is merely gaslighting.” He pointed out the state’s high infant mortality statistics and noted that Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid, which is an option most states have chosen under the health law passed in 2010 signed by then-President Barack Obama. Reeves as well as other Republican leaders have opposed Mississippi expanding Medicaid.

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn and Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson, who are Republicans are joined by Reeves in wanting to restrict abortion and in denying COVID-19 mandates for vaccination.

“I respect your right to make whatever health-related decision, particularly as it pertains to coronavirus, that you think is best for your needs in consultation with your health care provider,” Gunn said Oct. 28 at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Hobnob event. “This is America. One of the most important rights we enjoy in this country is to make the decisions that we think are best for us with regards to our health care.”

On the day that the Supreme Court heard arguments about the Mississippi abortion case, Gunn said in a statement that the Mississippi House “has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to save the lives of the unborn children in our State. This bill is another illustration of the House’s commitment to the unborn.”

Gipson was a House committee chairman who worked to push the 15-week abortion ban into law and he filed written arguments asking the Supreme Court to uphold it. Gipson said that the federal mandates on vaccination were “as as foreign and un-American as un-American as I’ve ever witnessed” during Hobnob.

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