/State leaders avoid questions about future of contraceptives

State leaders avoid questions about future of contraceptives

Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn did not answer questions from Mississippi Today about whether intrauterine devices (IUDs), or Plan B, which Louisiana anti-abortion legislators have tried to ban, are contraceptives. Idaho legislators have suggested that they could ban Plan B. Missouri lawmakers, however, have attempted to declare IUDs as abortion-inducing. Doctors disagree. Family planning providers in Mississippi are now focusing on the bottom line after a leak of a draft opinion suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. Contraceptives of any type are legal in Mississippi and nothing in that draft opinion would change that. Access to contraceptives would be more important in a state that has such poor outcomes for mothers and babies. Mississippi has the country’s highest unplanned pregnancies and maternal deaths, and the highest infant mortality rates. Jamie Bardwell, co-founder of Converge (the nonprofit that administers Mississippi’s $4.5million federal family planning grant), stated, “What we want is to reinforce is the fact that contraception can legally be accessible.” “There is currently no law that would restrict that. It has been used by the majority of women. We anticipate that future restrictions on abortion access will lead to increased demand for contraception. One Delta group is already taking steps. Over half of rural counties have no OB/GYN. About a third of all Black Mississippians live in the Delta. They are three times more likely than white Mississippians that they will die from pregnancy-related complications. Plan A, a mobile clinic that provides reproductive health services in the region, sent an email Wednesday stating that it will distribute emergency contraception to over 250 people in the next three months. It also plans to offer free pregnancy tests and provide emergency contraception. Reeves stated Sunday morning that life begins at conception in a CNN interview. Reeves declined to answer a question about whether “conception” means when an egg fertilizes or when the uterus is implanted. This usually happens between five and six days after conception. Reeves answered a question regarding whether the state might consider banning certain contraceptives. He said that “conception” does not refer to when an egg is fertilized or when it implantes in the uterus. Some IUDs, which work by preventing fertilization, can also prevent an egg from implanting in a uterus. Certain forms of birth control could be banned by laws that state life begins at fertilization. They might also make emergency contraceptives illegal, such as Plan B. This prevents pregnancy by stopping the ovulation process but can also prevent implantation. Louisiana’s legislative committee passed a bill making abortion a homicide. It also stated that life “should be equally protected” from fertilization to natural deaths. Reeves later posted a tweet thread on Sunday, providing clarification on Tapper’s interview and NBC’s Chuck Todd. He wrote, “I’m not interested to ban contraceptives.” Mississippi Today asked Reeves’ staff this week if he considered IUDs contraceptives. Reeves’ office replied with a statement, but it did not answer the question directly. A spokesperson stated that “The Governor has made it clear that he does not want to ban contraceptives.” Mississippi Today asked the spokesperson a second question to see if he would answer directly whether Reeves considers Plan B and IUDs contraceptives. She didn’t respond. Philip Gunn, Speaker of the House, issued a statement stating that the House would not move legislation banning contraceptives within a matter of minutes after Reeves’ interviews on television. “Gov. “Gov. “The left’s scaremongering to make pro-life states appear extreme will not work. Rest assured @MSHouseofRep won’t move legislation banning contraceptives.” Gunn’s office didn’t respond to Mississippi Today’s phone calls or text messages asking Gunn if he considers IUDs as contraceptives. Reeves claimed on Sunday that banning contraceptives had “never been an issue here.” However, Mississippi lawmakers have in the past supported measures that would have made certain contraceptives illegal. Many supported a 2011 constitutional amendment to allow life to be defined as “every human being from the moment that fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof.” 58% of voters opposed it. In an interview with Mississippi Today, Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), who is the author of several anti-abortion laws, stated that he does not anticipate reviving “personhood legislation” because the state’s trigger will ban abortion in nearly all cases. He stated that he does not want to ban contraceptives. He said, “I’m for all contraceptive options except an abortion.” There are many views within the anti-abortion movement on contraceptives. They are seen as a way of reducing abortions. Others oppose them because they believe that life begins with fertilization. Students for Life of America, Americans United for Life and Americans United for Life label Plan B and IUDs as “abortifacients,” which is a drug or chemical that induces abortion. Mississippi has one abortion clinic, but IUDs and other long-acting, reversible contraceptives are very common. These birth control methods are most effective. A copper IUD is more effective than a male condom at preventing pregnancy by about 99%. Mississippi’s family planning providers are working to end legal abortion access. Plan A stated that it distributes emergency contraception and pregnancy testing, and is also working with local OB/GYNs in order to provide prenatal services. The email stated that Mississippi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Banning abortion will result in an increase in high-risk pregnancies and no plans to lower the barriers to care for pregnant women. “Plan A” will fill the gap. Converge, which manages federal funds to ensure that low-income Mississippians have access to reproductive health services and birth control, is focusing on telemedicine to make prescriptions more accessible. Danielle Lampton, Converge cofounder, said, “I think we are all preparing ourselves for the decision, if it comes, to create an increased need for contraception. A higher need for transparent and accurate public communications about the availability of contraception.” Title X users in Mississippi are less likely to get highly effective LARCs, and are more likely to use the pill or male condoms. Jitoria Hunter from Converge, director of external relations, said that “we don’t want to confuse the community by what’s happening in the news.”