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Image: Philip Gunn
Philip Gunn addresses members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, on March 25, 2022 at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson.Rogelio V. Solis / AP file

Mississippi speaker: No abortions for 12-year-old incest victims

Asked whether a 12-year-old child molested by a family member should carry a pregnancy to term, Philip Gunn replied, “That is my personal belief.”


Now that Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices have overturned Roe v. Wade, and states are moving forward with abortion bans, a new conversation is taking shape, which was once limited to hypothetical thought experiments: the limits of GOP officials’ principles.

On “Meet the Press” this past weekend, for example, NBC News’ Chuck Todd asked Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson what would happen if a 13-year-old in his home state were impregnated after getting raped by a relative. “Are you comfortable with that?” the host asked.

“I’m not — I would’ve preferred a different outcome than that,” the Republican governor replied. “But that’s not the debate today in Arkansas. It might be in the future. But for now, the law triggered with only one exception.”

Or put another way, if a 13-year-old Arkansan is impregnated after getting raped by a relative, that pregnancy could not be voluntarily terminated. Before last week, an abortion for that child would be legal. Now, thanks to a law Hutchinson signed, an abortion would not be an option.

How about a 12-year-old? The Mississippi Free Press reported:

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn says abortion should be illegal even for a 12-year-old rape victim carrying her father or uncle’s child. He made the remark to reporters in the hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allowing state abortion bans to take effect.

The Republican legislator spoke to reporters a week ago today, after the Supreme Court’s ruling, and said the state’s new abortion ban “does not include an exception for incest.” Gunn added, “I believe life begins at conception. Every life is valuable. And those are my personal beliefs.”

Asked specifically whether a 12-year-old child molested by a family member "should carry that pregnancy to term,” the GOP lawmaker replied, “That is my personal belief.”

And as things stand, Gunn’s personal belief is in line with Mississippi law.

If nothing else, there’s an unmistakable consistency to such a position: Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is wrong, the argument goes, regardless of circumstances. If that means the government will force raped children to proceed with unwanted pregnancies, regardless of the impact, so be it.

The question for the rest of the public is whether to vote for policymakers who espouse such a position.