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Speaker Gunn’s ‘Commission on Life’ to Help Families Post-Pregnancy, Forced Birth

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn announced a bipartisan slate of lawmakers who will comprise his Speaker’s Commission on Life and steer the effort to craft legislation focused on pregnancy, children and families. The Republican leader first announced his plan for a commission when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

In a statement announcing the appointments Tuesday, Gunn said the lawmakers are already working with him on legislation “supporting and affirming life before and after birth.” After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the State began enforcing a 2007 law banning nearly all abortions at any stage.

“The Dobbs ruling presents Mississippi with the opportunity and responsibility to work with one another on building and supporting the families of unplanned pregnancies and the families once the child is born,” Gunn said. “Mississippi has an opportunity to lead the nation in protecting, promoting and supporting life.”

The speaker announced the following appointees for the Speaker’s Commission on Life: Rep. Otis Anthony, D-Indianola; Rep. Cedric Burnett, D-Tunica; Rep. Angela Cockerham, I-Magnolia; Rep. Kevin Felsher, R-Biloxi; Rep. Jill Ford, R-Madison; Rep. Debra Gibbs, D-Jackson; Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg; Rep. Dana Underwood McLean, R-Columbus; Rep. Sam C. Mims, V, R-McComb; and Rep. Lee Yancey, R-Rankin.

The appointees have mixed records on abortion. While Burnett and Gibbs voted against a 2019 law banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, Anthony joined five fellow Democrats who voted for it

McGee, meanwhile, was the only Republican who voted against it. She said at the time that she considered herself “pro-life,” but could not support the legislation because it included no exceptions for rape, incest or cases of “fatal genetic abnormalities.”

After appointing 10 lawmakers to his bipartisan Speaker’s Commission on Life, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he was “grateful for their willingness and readiness to lead Mississippi in creating the ‘Next Steps For Life’ Legislation.” Graphic by Kristin Brenemen

After the ruling, Gunn drew international criticism when he said that it is his “personal belief” that a 12-year-old incest victim should be forced

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