Governor Tate Reeves (R-MS) avoided host Chuck Todd’s questions about banning contraception in an interview today on NBC‘s Meet the Press by choosing his words very carefully.
Tate’s words matter since, in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked opinion on Roe v. Wade, people have been wondering what other rights that we’ve taken for granted may wind up being the next to fall to the agenda of right-wing religious extremists.
Many people have a legitimate concern about whether the GOP will be satisfied with only repealing a woman’s right to abortion or whether they will continue to use the courts to advance their plainly unconstitutional imposition of their own religious beliefs upon every other U.S. citizen by restricting other rights that we assume are sacrosanct.
For once, Todd pushed back when Reeves attempted to deflect, telling the Governor that “you’re not answering the question.” What Todd got in return was a word salad complete with vague, ambiguous language – and lot’s of stuttering.
“What, what the next movement in, in, in, the pro-life movement in, in my view, Chuck, is, is simple – and that is we must prove that being pro-life is not just about anti-abortion,” Reeve responded. “What we wanna do next is we wanna continue to focus on the two things that are very important and that is ensuring that those expectant mothers have the resources that they need. That’s why in MS this year we invested significant additional resources in pregnancy resource center and that we are working to build a system. We have 37 of those in MS, and we are working to build of system throughout of our state to insure that every expectant mother has access to the information and the education that they need.”
CHUCK TODD: If there is legislation brought to you to ban contraception, would you sign it?
GOV. TATE REEVES: I don't think that's going to happen in Mississippi.
TODD: You're not answering the question.
REEVES: Well, there's so many things that we can talk about. pic.twitter.com/dooWFdPNvW
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2022
These “pregnancy resource centers”, or crisis pregnancy centers, that Reeves is referring to are predominantly faith-based alternatives generally located near abortion clinics. They are widely criticized by physicians and pro-choice advocates for providing misleading information to women and girls seeking abortion assistance. According to the Guttmacher Institute:
“Through written materials, Web sites, telephone interviews and in‐person visits, crisis pregnancy centers disseminate medical information about the risks of abortion that lacks scientific validity. Eighty‐seven percent of centers contacted for the Waxman report provided false or misleading medical information.”
A typical tactic is telling women that getting an abortion will increase the risk of breast cancer, and they will have trouble conceiving in the future. Both these fallacies have been debunked and proven false. Meanwhile, crisis pregnancy centers receive tax credits and operate as non-profits in the state.
Reeves went on to tell Todd about the “next phase” of the GOP’s multi-phase pro-life campaign, telling the pundit:
“The second piece of the equation and the second piece of the next phase of the pro-life movement is we’ve got to make sure we make sure we make it easier for those babies that are born, either through the potential for adoption services, uh we’ve got to make it easier for adoptions. We’ve got to make it easier for adoptions. We’ve got to find resources for adoption. We’ve got to also make sure that we improve our foster care system.”
What Reeves has left out is the 2018 lawsuit filed to hold Mississippi in contempt for failing to meet requirements that were court-mandated in 2017 and requiring 90% of the state’s caseworkers to meet caseloads. In an interview with Gulport, Mississippi local TV broadcaster WLOX, Ellen Weatherford – foster parent recruiter at Health Connect America – told listeners that there is a shortage of homes available to the kids who already need them.
“When a child is in foster care studies show they’re 50% less likely to graduate from high school potentially setting them behind for life,” Weatherford said. “In Mississippi, more than 4,000 children are in the foster care system. Unfortunately between 20% and 30% of those children in the system don’t have a home to go to because there is a lack of foster parents.”
The Jackson Free Press also reported that the foster care system in Mississippi has a “$23 million shortfall.”
Sponsored by ifoster, an organization whose mission is to “ensure that every child growing up outside their biological home has the resources and opportunities” to transition to a life of productive adulthood, the WHO CARES project found that between 2018 and 2021 the number of licensed foster homes in Mississippi went down from 3083 to 1871.
Moreover, in April 2022, Reeves signed a bill to cut taxes and eliminate $524 million in revenue for the state. It was a move that inspired The Parent Campaign to condemn the governor for the state’s $272 million gap in public school funding.
“They have insisted that the state is floating in money and can afford a $524-million tax cut, so ‘we can’t afford it’ is no longer an excuse," @ParentsCampaign said as the public education organization railed against the continued underfunding of schools.https://t.co/ZwnApckNSj
— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) April 6, 2022
MS owes a BIG debt to our children: MAEP underfunded this yr $272M.#msleg insists MS has more $ than we need & is CUTTING state revenue by $525M over 4 yrs. Next year’s tax cut is $185M.
Time to start paying down the debt to MS children with a $185M increase in MAEP for FY23. https://t.co/2lfxmZ3Qio
— The Parents' Campaign (@ParentsCampaign) April 4, 2022
All of these decisions will disproportionately affect the Black community in Mississippi, who already account for 43% of infant births, and an incredulous 59% of infant deaths. National Institute of Health reports that MS has the poorest birth outcomes in the country. If Governor Tate Reeves is as committed as he says to “finding” resources to help expectant mothers and their babies have the best chance of success – he needs to look no further than the legislation that he signed cutting those resources.
And, if the thing that Tate Reeves doesn’t think will happen in Mississippi — the expansion of the right-wing’s anti-women agenda to ensure a reliable “domestic supply of infants,” as Justice Amy Coney Barrett puts it, by banning contraception— actually manages to pass the reactionary Republican-controlled Mississippi legislature, the governor is going to need to find a whole lot more resources than he realizes.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick