Mississippi's governor on Sunday pointed to biology and European abortion law in defending his state's 15-week abortion ban, asserting that most countries in Europe have laws more restrictive than in the United States.
Gov. Tate Reeves made the comments on NBC's Meet the Press the same week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the law, which prohibits abortion after the 15th week of a woman's term except in cases of medical emergencies and fetal abnormality. Oral arguments will be heard Wednesday.
Under the U.S. Supreme Court's precedent in Roe v. Wade and its companion decisions, abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy.
"In Europe, there are 42 countries that allow elective abortions," Reeves said, adding that 39 countries in Europe "restrict abortion earlier than 15 weeks."
"And so the reality is that the U.S. abortion laws are not in conformity or are not even in the realm of what we see in other parts" of the world, Reeves said. "When you look at, for instance, abortion laws in California and New York, they are much more similar to those abortion laws in China and North Korea than they are to Europe or many other countries around the world."
A study by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute this summer backs up Reeves' claims. It found that "of the 42 European countries that allow elective abortion," 39 countries "limit elective abortion to 15 weeks gestation or earlier."
"The majority of these 39 European countries set gestational limits for elective abortion at or before 12 weeks gestation," the study said.
Roe was "wrongly decided," Reeves said.
"There is no fundamental right in our United States Constitution to an abortion," he said. "... If you read the Constitution, there is nowhere in the Constitution that prohibits individual states, states like Mississippi, to limit access to abortions."
Science, Reeves said, supports the pro-life position.
"We know that those babies at 15 weeks actually can open and close their hands. We know that they have developing lungs," Reeves said. "And we know that those babies at 15 weeks can feel pain. … Since Roe was enacted, 62 million American babies have been aborted, and therefore have been killed. And that's why I think it's very important that people like myself and others across this country stand up for those unborn children, because they don't have the ability to stand up for themselves."
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.