US Senator Roger Wicker was the only member of Mississippi’s Republican congressional delegation to answer questions this week about a proposal to impose a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, recently proposed a 15-week ban after the US Supreme Court in June overturned the national right to abortion in a watershed case from Mississippi. The ruling – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – meant that the decision to allow or prohibit abortion would be up to each individual state.
The fact that the state of Mississippi is in real sense void for the current abortion debate, thanks to the Dobbs case, makes the comments of the state’s congressional delegation relevant.
But everyone was silent – except Vicker.
“The Senate Republican Convention is integrated in the demand for as many pro-life protections as possible for all Americans, but this goal has historically been most effectively achieved when legislation is enacted at the local level,” Vickers said in a statement. “
Graham is, of course, referring to a national law on abortion.
It’s fair to say that some Republican candidates are backing away from their position on abortion as the November midterm election approaches. Polls in several states, including Mississippi, indicate that the Supreme Court action overturning Roe v. Wade, which granted the national right to abortion, may not be as popular as some conservatives thought it would be. Voters in conservative Kansas rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have made it easier for the Legislature to ban abortion.
That vote was a wake-up call for many.
In May the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said it was “possible” that a Republican-majority Senate could vote next year on legislation to introduce a federal ban on abortion.
But recently as McConnell is trying to elect enough Republicans to capture a Senate majority in November, he has changed his tune.
Speaking on Graham’s proposal for a national 15-week ban, McConnell said, “You have to ask him about it. In terms of scheduling, I think most members of my conference prefer that it be done at the state level.” be dealt with.”
It’s important to note that Graham’s proposal would result in a 15-week national ban, but states that have opted to impose stricter restrictions, like Mississippi, would not be barred from doing so. All abortions are banned in Mississippi except in the case of rape and to save the mother’s life. In addition, Mississippi has another law that bans abortions after six weeks except in cases of medical emergency.
Wicker pointed out that Mississippi has led the way in anti-abortion advocacy.
“I hope Mississippi’s strong laws protecting unborn children can serve as a model for my colleagues and help them make a difference in their states,” Vickers said. “We cannot allow a partisan spin to undermine our determination to fight for the rights of the unborn, including at the federal level.”
It’s fair to say that Vickers was a groundbreaker in the case of Mississippi passing legislation to prohibit abortion. As a state senator representing Lee and Pontotok counties in northeastern Mississippi in the late 1980s and early ’90s, he was involved in enforcing 24-hour waiting periods on having abortions and placing additional restrictions on abortion clinics. He was one of the leaders who passed the law.
At the time, few states were passing such laws.
While Vickers was one of only five Republicans on the congressional delegation to comment on the Graham bill, all of them have expressed strong anti-abortion views in the past. Mississippi’s only Democrat in the congressional delegation – Benny Thompson – voted for a bill that would essentially restore Roe v. Wade standards. That bill passed the US House, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Undoubtedly, the issue of abortion will be a major issue in the November elections. Polls suggest that the issue of abortion could give Democrats a boost. But abortion is not expected to be a big issue in Mississippi.
Wicker and the other US Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith are not up for re-election this year. The three House incumbents – Michael Guest of the third, Trent Kelly of the first and Thompson of the second – are all heavy favorites and it is doubtful that their position on abortion will change those odds much.
In the Fourth District, Republican Mike Eizell, who defeated incumbent Steven Palazzo in the Republican primary, is also anti-abortion.
The question is whether Republicans will vote on a national ban on the combustible issue if they take over the House and Senate this November.
So far, his position has been fluid.
This analysis was produced by Mississippi Today, a non-profit news organization covering state government, public policy, politics and culture. Bobby Harrison is the Senior Capital Reporter for Mississippi Today.