The Supreme Court decision Friday that overruled Roe v. Wade and did away with the premise that there’s a constitutional right to an abortion was in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case originated in Mississippi and was the linchpin in the greatest victory for the pro-life cause in the past 50 years.

Mississippi’s governor, Republican Tate Reeves, has been instrumental in building the culture of life in his state to get to this point and hopes that Friday’s victory is the first of many.

“We want to represent to the rest of the country that every single life has worth, every single life has value, and that there are people in this state, and there are people in this country, that care and love every single mom,” Reeves says.

“I think we’ve made progress,” he adds. “And the reason is because I believe in my heart that if we talk with compassion, we have the ability to win people’s hearts and minds across the country on this issue.”

Reeves joins the show to discuss how Dobbs made its way to the high court, and what the future holds for life in America. 

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Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.

Douglas Blair: My guest today is Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. Governor, welcome to the show.

Gov. Tate Reeves: Thanks, Doug. Great to be on.

Blair: Of course. It was your state that produced the Dobbs lawsuit that eventually overturned Roe v. Wade, and it confirmed that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. Given that your state was so important in this process, what are the next steps specifically for Mississippi on how to handle abortion going forward?

Reeves: Well, I am so pleased that Mississippi led the way in ending Roe v. Wade. This is obviously a battle that has been fought for some 50 years since the court wrongly came to the conclusion that they did in Roe. And so I’m very excited.

I just want to point out that it’s the convictions of our people that gave the elected officials the ability to fight this battle. But we also recognize that being pro-life is not simply being anti-abortion, and so it’s incumbent upon all of us in the conservative movement and all of us that are believers to come together and create a culture of life in our state and across America. And really, that is the next phase of the pro-life movement is creating that culture of life.

Blair: And what is Mississippi doing specifically to help cultivate that culture of life across the nation?

Reeves: First of all, we are working to significantly improve our child protection services agency. We have had challenges in the past, but since I’ve been governor, we’ve invested significant amounts of money into that particular agency so that those kids that need help finding foster care, that need help finding adoption, that we are here to help them find a forever home and a forever family.

And we are also making sure that we work to provide the resources that are necessary for our expectant mothers. We have 37 pregnancy resource centers situated in all regions of our state.

We passed what I believe to be the first-ever legislation that allows for $3.5 million for those pregnancy resource centers. So that those expecting moms that maybe some did not expect to be pregnant, that they have someone that can stand by their side and walk with them through the process and help them get the resources that they need and just generally provide support and show that there’s people here in Mississippi that not only love that mother, but also love that unborn child. And let’s make sure that we are standing there with them.

Blair: It sounds like Mississippi has a sort of bipronged approach to this where there’s a state responsibility to aid women going through maybe an unexpected pregnancy, but then also on the ground, private citizenry are going to help pregnant women go through this. Is that accurate?

Reeves: That is. That’s exactly right, because what we know is that while the state or the government, certainly when led by people like me, want to show compassion, we also know that government’s not very good at providing lots and lots of things and that it is the faith community that is better situated to stand up and provide the support that is needed.

And so we’ve issued a challenge here in Mississippi, and we issue a challenge across America, that churches and others in the faith community step up and not only help with the pregnancy resource centers, but help individuals in each and every community across our state, because we know that there are going to be some that find themselves in difficult situations.

And we don’t want to simply pass a law because it’s never been just about passing a law. It’s never been just about winning a court case. It’s about creating that culture of life and providing opportunities for moms and babies.

Blair: Now, given that you have this culture of life that you’re trying to cultivate, let’s look at and see what [are] some of the laws on the books that you’re going to put into place now that Roe has been overturned.

Some states have what are so-called trigger laws, where as soon as Roe is overturned, those laws go into effect and ban abortion. What does Mississippi currently have as the legislation? Is it the Dobbs decision? Is it the Dobbs lawsuit that you’re sort of keeping as the law on the books? Or what are you planning to do now?

Reeves: So obviously, the Dobbs case was about, and this was strategic, but the Dobbs case was actually a 15-week ban that passed the Mississippi Legislature, I believe in 2018. We were then immediately sued.

In 2008, there was actually a trigger law that was passed. It’s interesting, and it kind of speaks to how far Democrats have moved in just 15 short years, but we actually had a Democrat speaker of the House and a Democrat chairman of public health that passed the trigger law in Mississippi. And the trigger law bans all abortions with the exception of rape and life of the mother.

And so yesterday our attorney general, as is required by the statute, signified that that trigger law would go into effect and the plaintiff in the Dobbs case immediately sued us on state grounds.

And so while we would anticipate that the trigger law should have gone into effect 10 days from yesterday, when it was certified by the AG, it is now in state litigation. And so we’re going to have to navigate our way through that litigation.

But once that litigation is behind us, and once the Supreme Court of Mississippi confirms that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion, just as the United States Supreme Court has recently said, then the trigger law will go into effect.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves—seen here in the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 28, 2020—says he wants his state to “represent to the rest of the country that every single life has worth, every single life has value.” (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Blair: You mentioned that carve-out where a woman can get an abortion if the pregnancy is either dangerous to her life or if it’s the result of a rape. There are certain laws across the country that do have those exceptions. Is that going to remain in Mississippi law in the near future, do you think, or will you be looking at removing those exceptions?

Reeves: Well, I think those discussions are ongoing with legislative leadership, but certainly in the short term that will remain in effect. Certainly when you talk about the life of the mother, what you are looking at—in my personal opinion—is a medical decision that has to be made by a physician because you have two lives at stake.

And that’s really the foundation of the Dobbs case and the arguments that we made, is that there is no doubt a living baby in that womb. And when it comes to the effect of there’s a choice to be made because of the life of the mother and the life of the baby, I don’t think that anyone other than the physician has the expertise to make that particular decision.

Blair: One of the things that we expect to see in the future as these types of conversations [are taking place] and as these laws are getting passed is that pro-abortion states like California will attempt to funnel so-called abortion drugs into pro-life states like Mississippi. What are your plans to handle those types of situations?

Reeves: Yeah, we’re looking at the laws on our books right now to deal with those types of abortions—because, obviously, that would not be allowable under our statute—and the kind of things that we can do to make sure that we enforce every law in our state with respect to that and whatever else the abortion-on-demand crowd does.

It’s been absolutely really, really surprising and shocking to me. And perhaps it shouldn’t, but these pro-abortion states are not just interested, it appears, in offering services to individuals, but it’s almost as if they are advocating for more abortions. They’re advocating and trying to make it simpler for more and more people to abort unborn children. And it really is, it’s a sad site to see.

Blair: Now, there’s something to that, there’s a difference in culture between a state like California or New York and a Mississippi. How successful do you think that you’ve been in building a culture of life across the country?

I want to kind of reference something you said both in this interview and you’ve said before in a press release, where you said, “Despite what some may claim, Mississippi’s objective was never simply to win a court case. It’s been to create a culture of life across the country.” How successful do you think you’ve been on that?

Reeves: Well, I think we’ve made progress and I think that oftentimes my friends ask me why I am willing to go on some of these TV shows and do some of these very combative interviews. And the reason is because I believe in my heart that if we talk with compassion, we have the ability to win people’s hearts and minds across the country on this issue.

I absolutely believe that because if you talk to Americans and you ask them the question, there’s an overwhelming majority of Americans that believe that there ought to be reasonable restrictions on abortion.

And I believe that even in states like California and New York, who have some of the most open abortion laws in our country, but quite frankly, in California and New York, their abortion laws are more like North Korea and Communist China than they are like the Western world.

And so I think even in states like California and New York, that there’s a large percentage of their population that believe that they ought to have reasonable restrictions on abortions. And so the way in which they define reasonable may not be exactly the way that I do as a pro-life Mississippian, but even so, we can save lives in California and New York if we talk to the people in those states about what a reasonable restriction ought to be.

That even the 15-week ban that Mississippi passed, had we been successful in simply getting that law on the books and not overturning Roe v. Wade, Mississippi, as the most conservative state in the country, still would’ve had less restrictions on abortion than 39 out of 42 countries in Europe.

And so the California and New York laws are seriously out of touch with the Western world and that’s the conversation that needs to be had in those states and we’re going to try to drive that conversation.

Blair: In terms of driving that conversation, does that involve more action at the federal level? Obviously, Dobbs was one of these things that went to the Supreme Court and now has national ramifications. Are you planning on doing something like that again?

Reeves: Well, what I would tell you is that I don’t know that we have to have action at the federal level. I do think that we have to have political activism in every region of our country. And I think that part of the next phase of the pro-life movement is to continue to convey to the American people our views and our beliefs, and the fact that these laws in these other states—like California, New York—are so out of touch with the rest of the world.

Blair: Now, how can Mississippi and other pro-life states serve as models for those states? What can they be doing right now to demonstrate that a culture of life is better than a culture that supports abortion?

Reeves: Well, I think exactly what we’ve talked about earlier, and that is implementing public policies that show that we are serious about providing resources for those mothers that find themselves in a pregnancy that perhaps they didn’t necessarily want.

The other thing we can do is we can make it so much easier for adoptions in our state. And that’s one of the policies that we’re working on, is making it easier to adopt one of these young people, because we know that there are people in the faith community, we know that there are people in Mississippi that perhaps are struggling getting pregnant and want to choose to adopt a kid.

We need to make it so much easier in our state and across the country for adoptions. And we are looking at things in terms of helping pay for the cost of adoptions, because as you know, it can be extremely expensive to do that.

And we are looking at ways to expedite the process because for many parents who are interested in adopting, they really want to adopt a kid earlier rather than at ages 14 or 15. And so, what can we do to make it easier to adopt that 1- and 2- and 3-year-old before they get into, for instance, the state system or the foster care system?

And so we also have to be willing to encourage and incentivize parents to step up and be willing to foster kids that do find themselves in the state system. And we also have to continue to improve educational outcomes for all of our kids, including those that find themselves in the state system.

Blair: As one final question, as we begin to wrap-up here, governor, I’m curious, there are 49 other states in the union. They have wildly disparate views on where to go after this on abortion and all of these different topics. What does Mississippi have to say? What do they want to represent to the rest of the country?

Reeves: We want to represent to the rest of the country that every single life has worth, every single life has value, and that there are people in this state and there are people in this country that care and love every single mom, regardless of whatever mistakes or decisions that they’ve made in the past; that there are people here in this state and across this country that love every single baby, whether it’s in that womb or has been birthed.

And so we want to represent a caring people who try to situate our policies in such a way that we create that culture of life so that it enables us to make sure that we help and provide those who most need it, recognizing that very rarely is government the best way in which to provide that help or those resources, but to work with our private sector partners, to work with our faith community to create that culture of life.

Blair: Wonderful. Well, that was Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. Thank you so much for your time, Governor. I really appreciate you coming on.

Reeves: Thanks for having me on as always, Doug. Appreciate it.

Blair: Sure.

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