Mississippi House Speaker says a 12-year-old raped and impregnated by father should NOT be allowed to get an abortion because of his ‘personal belief’ that ‘life begins at conception’
- Philip Gunn said he doesn’t believe child rape or incest justifies an abortion
- He told reporters he thought a pregnant 12-year-old should carry to term
- Gunn, Mississippi’s House Speaker, said he believes ‘life begins at conception’
- The Republican also claimed his ‘personal belief’ is that ‘every life is valuable’
- Mississippi law permits for an abortion in cases of rape but not for incest
- Gunn said he wasn’t sure ‘what the Legislature’s appetite’ would be for ensuring child rape and incest victims could obtain abortions
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he believes a 12-year-old girl raped and impregnated by her father should not be allowed to have an abortion.
The powerful Republican said he didn’t think abortion laws should make exceptions for rape and incest, noting how he personally believes ‘life begins at conception’ and ‘every life is valuable.’
Gunn issued his controversial remark just hours after the Supreme Court upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guaranteed abortion rights in the U.S.
Mississippi’s current legislation permits for an abortion in cases of rape but does not allow an exception for incest.
Gunn said he wasn’t sure ‘what the Legislature’s appetite’ would be for ensuring child rape and incest victims could obtain abortions, but reiterated that he doesn’t think officials should revisit the law.
When asked if a 12-year-old who was raped by a relative should be forced to carry her child to term, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he didn’t think abortion laws should make exceptions for rape and incest. He reiterated that he personally believes ‘life begins at conception’ and ‘every life is valuable’
Associated Press reporter Emily Wagster Pettus probed Gunn on the Mississippi House floor on Friday, June 24 – the same day SCOTUS made the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
‘What about the case of a 12-year-old girl who was molested by her father or uncle?’ she asked Gunn.
He replied: ‘No, (the law) does not include an exception for incest. I don’t know that that will be changed.’
‘Do you think the Legislature should revisit that?’ Pettus asked.
‘Personally, no. I do not,’ Gunn said. ‘I believe life begins at conception. Every life is valuable. And those are my personal beliefs.’
The GOP member was further questioned by Daily Journal reporter Taylor Vance who asked: ‘So that 12-year-old child molested by her family members should carry that pregnancy to term?’
‘That is my personal belief. I believe life begins at conception,’ Gunn said, before adding that he didn’t want discussions about rape or incest to overshadow the win for pro-life legislation in America and the role Mississippi played in that decision.
‘Let me say this, I want today to be about the Roe v. Wade decision. I want today to be about the fact that we have seen an end to abortion in this country,’ he stated.
‘These other things that y’all are talking about are certainly things we can talk about moving forward. I do not want those things to detract from the significance of this day. I’m afraid if we get too far afield from what we’re talking about today, that will overshadow the significance of this day.’
Gunn added: ‘I want this day to be about the fact that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the members of the House of Representatives are the ones that led out on that, it happened in this very room and we’re going to celebrate that today.’
Gunn issued his controversial remark just hours after the Supreme Court upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guaranteed abortion rights in the U.S. Protesters are pictured outside the Mississippi Capitol on June 28
Mississippi’s current legislation permits for an abortion in cases of rape but does not allow an exception for incest. Protesters are pictured outside the statehouse on June 28
Gunn’s commentary was met with criticism online.
Actor and comedian Michael Rapaport slammed the Republican in an Instagram post, saying: ‘Phillip Gunn Representative from Mississippi believes EVEN Molestation Victim’s from a FATHER should give Birth. This is DISGUSTING.’
‘Strange how he emphasizes “I believe” and “those are my personal beliefs” yet he is all for enforcing his personal beliefs on everyone who does not share them,’ @catsarebetterrr tweeted.
‘Fine. That’s his personal belief. It’s not my personal belief. Why does he think his beliefs supersede my beliefs?’ echoed Twitter user @HelloDearVoid.
‘Where does he get off thinking HIS beliefs must be forced on ME? If it works like that then I must have the right to force my beliefs on him. So I will.’
‘The speaker thinks what “I believe” should be law. Remember that. It’s not about what science or popular belief is. It is only about HIS belief. Sad sad state of affairs in this country,’ added social media user Randy Foster.
Gunn’s remarks about rape and incest exceptions were met with criticism online. Actor and comedian Michael Rapaport even chimed in and called Gunn ‘disgusting’
The high court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24, upholding Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which is toward the start of the second trimester.
The 6-3 ruling upended a nearly 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade that protected a woman’s right to privacy in choosing to abort a pregnancy prior to the point of viability.
In Dobbs, SCOTUS ruled ‘the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey [Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992] are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.’
Mississippi is now set to ban nearly all abortions under a 2007 ‘trigger law’ following the Dobbs ruling that will ‘prohibit abortions in the state of Mississippi’ at any stage ‘except in cases where necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life or where the pregnancy was caused by rape.’ The rape must also have been reported to law enforcement.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch certified the trigger law last week.
However, Jackson Women’s Health Organization – Mississippi’s only abortion clinic- hit back and filed a state lawsuit attempting the block the trigger law. The clinic alleged that ‘the Mississippi Constitution protects a right to abortion.’
If the clinic does not succeed in blocking the law, it will go into effect on July 7.
Clinic escorts grab a quick rest from the daily confrontations with abortion opponents, when escorting patients from the parking lot of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi on June 29
Dani Choufani, an abortion opponent, prays quietly outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Mississippi on June 29
Since the ruling, Gunn told the Mississippi Free Press he wants to ‘move forward to secure strong and lasting legal protections and cultural support for life.’
He is working to form a ‘Speaker’s Commission on Life’ that will address ‘more effective and well-funded child protections and foster care,’ ‘more available and affordable adoption’ and ‘next-generation child support to hold fathers accountable, so mothers don’t bear the burdens alone.’
He also said he ‘expects the churches to step up’ and help pregnant women, but reaffirmed his opposition to expanding Medicaid or extending postpartum coverage.
‘Y’all know my position on that, y’all know my position has long been that that is not a way to provide those services,’ Gunn said.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves vowed to find new ways to ‘promote life’ in wake of the Dobbs ruling and declared June ‘Sanctity of Life Month’
Some of Gunn’s GOP colleagues have also expressed interest in making the state’s abortion laws even stricter.
Mississippi Sen. Joey Fillingane, who sponsored the trigger law, said he would like to repeal exceptions for rape which would make abortion only an option in cases were a pregnant woman’s life is in danger.
Gov. Tate Reeves vowed to find new ways to ‘promote life’ in wake of the Dobbs ruling and declared June ‘Sanctity of Life Month.’
‘Mississippi must now turn to the work ahead,’ Reeves’ proclamation states, ‘to take every step to support mothers and children through policies of compassion, to ensure every baby has a forever family that loves and cherishes them, and to build and sustain our new pro-life agenda—a culture that values the inherent dignity of every individual, restores the wonder of life, and, in President Reagan’s enduring reminder, champions the “sense of the worth and dignity of every individual.”‘