Mississippi governor vows to stop abortions during coronavirus outbreak

Mississippi governor vows to stop abortions during coronavirus outbreak
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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) vowed he would take action against his state’s sole remaining abortion clinic if it provides abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Reeves said at a press conference that abortions should be included among elective medical procedures and nonessential medical visits, both of which were postponed by the Mississippi Department of Health as it braces for a flood of COVID-19 cases. 

"We're doing everything in our power, and have for many years, to make Mississippi the safest place in America for unborn children," Reeves said at a press conference Tuesday. 

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Reeves, who for years advocated in the state government to try to curb abortions in Mississippi, threatened “additional action” against the Jackson clinic if it does not halt abortions but stopped short of specifying what exactly he would do to try to force the site to hold off on performing the procedure. 

"We'll take whatever action we need to to protect not only the lives of unborn children but also the lives of anyone who may contract this particular virus," Reeves said. "[I] don't know any specifics, so I'm not saying they are currently operating. I just simply don't know. ... We'll take whatever necessary actions." 

Reeves later appeared to veer away from the politics of abortion, saying elective procedures are halted to “protect our [personal protective equipment], our masks ... and other supplies for anyone who gets infected by this virus.” 

Mississippi’s top health official indicated that the state would have to further examine the issue before any action is taken to restrict abortion access.

"That's something I was not familiar with," Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said in reference to Reeves's statement. "And before I would make any comments, I think we have to review the situation a bit more."

The remarks come after Texas and Ohio both moved to prevent health care providers from performing abortions by classifying them as elective procedures.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a statement Monday. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, rebuked Paxton’s remarks, saying the procedure is “essential” and maintained that it is complying with the state's rules on preserving personal protective equipment for health workers.