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Fear Mongering on Abortion Makes Its Mark on Sunday Talk Shows

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

After the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson, a case that could overturn or at least weaken Roe v. Wade, it was hardly surprising that the Sunday talk shows would discuss abortion. This case examines previability abortion bans, specifically Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks.


Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS), who did an admirable job last week while on NBC's "Meet the Press," appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" this Sunday. 

The governor mentioned the appropriate talking points, such as the humanity of unborn children and the tragedy of the 62 million abortions that have happened since Roe. Reeves also addressed how the so-called right to an abortion isn't even in the constitution, but states rights to be able to pass laws to protect unborn children are. 

Further, the United States is one of just seven nations which allows for elective abortions past 20 weeks, with others being China and North Korea. Chief Justice John Roberts discussed this in oral arguments on Wednesday, as did Reeves this Sunday and last Sunday.

But, host Jake Tapper wanted to focus on Mississippi's trigger law that bans most abortions, if Roe is overturned. At one point here is what the conversation entailed:

TAPPER: So, the country has been here before, before 1973.

And what happens in reality is, women of means are still able to get abortions, but poor women, young women, vulnerable women end up often seeking abortions in ways that can cause them severe harm, mutilation, if not death in some cases.

So, do you acknowledge that this step will result in some women and almost -- almost certainly getting seriously hurt, some even dying?

REEVES: Well, I certainly would hope that that would not be the case.

But what I would tell you, Jake, is that since Roe was enacted in 1973, there have been 62 million American babies that have been killed through this process. And I think that those babies in their mother's womb don't have the ability to stand up for themselves. And that's why they have to have people like me and others around this nation that, for years, have tried to stand up for unborn children. I think we have to do everything we can as policy-makers to improve the quality of public health in our state.

And when you look at this pandemic, there are a lot of negatives that have come from the pandemic, but one of the hopefully silver linings that come out of dealing with the pandemic over the last year-and-a-half is that we have seen significant investments in infrastructure, both from the state and federal level, in our public health system.


Tapper was furthering an oft-repeated but not completely true talking point from the pro-abortion side, which is to focus on the amount of women who were injured or killed from illegal abortions before Roe.

Abortion advocates have been using this talking point for some time now, though it often entails not only fear mongering but misinformation. As a 2019 fact-check from The Washington Post analyzed, the numbers have been greatly exaggerated. 

Gov. Reeves discussed "the quality of public health in our state," which is what women would turn to who would have otherwise had abortions. Further, there are thousands of pro-life pregnancy resource centers across the country willing to help women both during their pregnancy and after the child has been born.

Mississippi has dozens of pro-life pregnancy centers ready and willing to help women in need, especially if Roe is overturned. 


On "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd talked to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). 

Sen. Klobuchar was all over the place with her responses, and she too addressed "back-alley abortions" in her response:

...You literally are going to go back to a time, if we don't do anything -- I'll get to that in a minute -- you're going to go back to a time of back alley abortions. You're going to go back to people – people are going to be busing from one state to another. 75% of Americans believe that this decision should be made between a woman and her doctor, 75% of Americans. This wasn't a case where the Court was going with the changing mores of society, no. They are on their own there. Raw political power pushed those new justices onto the Court, and this is going to be the outcome...

Sen. Klobuchar advocated for the Women's Health Protection Act, which not only codifies Roe, but undoes years of pro-life gains at the state level. It passed the House in September. State Democrats are looking at similar legislation. 

Todd and Klobuchar discussed potentially abolishing the filibuster in order to get the legislation passed in the Senate. Todd also offered manipulating it so it would pass by a simple majority, such as including it with Medicaid funding. 

Even when Sen. Braun had his segment, the hysteria was still furthered by Todd. 

Sen. Braun, as Reeves did, advocated for returning the issues to the states. "When it comes to things like abortion, I think it's clear it's time to turn it back to the states, let the diversity of this country show forth," the senator offered. He stuck to this point throughout many of the questions thrown at him by Todd.


Last week, when Gov. Reeves was a guest, Todd claimed a vaccine mandate could be  pro-life. He once more brought up the vaccine mandate, this time with Sen. Braun. 

"And you're a vigorous opponent of the federal government's private sector vaccine mandate. And you're worried about the liberty of the unvaccinated. What about the liberty of the woman who doesn't want to carry a pregnancy to term? Why should the government force that? You don't want the government to force people to get a vaccine. You're essentially advocating for the government to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term that she may not want to do," Todd asked. 

Braun wasn't buying it, though. "You might try to create that as an issue of equivalency; I don't," he said. He also reminded Todd, again, that this speaks to how the abortion issue deeply divided us. "And if you try to make those equivalent, I think you're going to get into that current paradigm we're in, to where you're arguing about things that just divide us." 

In finishing his response, Braun also emphasized "I'm saying on the abortion issue, take it back to the states where I think the Constitution intended it to be."


A decision on Dobbs is expected at the end of next June. 

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