Mississippi governor wants abortions halted during coronavirus outbreak

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Mississippi’s only abortion clinic must stop performing the procedures during the coronavirus outbreak because of the state’s temporary ban on elective surgery, Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday.

"We'll take whatever action we need to, to protect not only the lives of unborn children, but also the lives of anyone who may contract this particular virus," Reeves told reporters at a news conference, according to the Clarion Ledger of Jackson.

The state Department of Health had ordered a halt on elective surgeries as part of efforts to prepare for an expected influx of coronavirus patients, the newspaper reported.

Other states directing abortion clinics to delay procedures during the outbreak included Ohio and Texas.

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But Mississippi state Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he wasn’t prepared to confirm that abortions would be temporarily halted in that state.

“That's something I was not familiar with," Dobbs said at the same news conference, according to the Clarion Ledger. “And before I would make any comments, I think we have to review the situation a bit more.”

Reeves, 45, a Republican in his first term as governor after previously serving as lieutenant governor and state treasurer, said he remained committed to someday ending abortion in the state.

“We're doing everything in our power, and have for many years, to make Mississippi the safest place in America for unborn children," Reeves said.

"We're doing everything in our power, and have for many years, to make Mississippi the safest place in America for unborn children." 

— Gov. Tate Reeves
Tate Reeves, then lieutenant governor, addresses business leaders at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual "Hobnob Mississippi," in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 31, 2019. (Associated Press)

Tate Reeves, then lieutenant governor, addresses business leaders at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual "Hobnob Mississippi," in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 31, 2019. (Associated Press)

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic, dubbed the Pink House because of the color of the building, was open Tuesday – with a group of anti-abortion protesters outside, according to the paper.

The clinic’s staff was working to protect employees and patients protected from coronavirus, Kelly Krause, a spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the clinic in legal matters, told the Clarion Ledger.

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But Laura Duran, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, said protesters were concerned that those inside the clinic might be at risk of contracting the virus, also known as COVID-19.

Volunteers from Pro-Life Mississippi have filed complaints about the clinic with Gov. Reeves, the mayor of Jackson and with the state medical licensure board, Duran told the paper.

Click here for more from the Clarion Ledger of Jackson, Miss.