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Gunn’s comment regarding incestuous rape draws criticism

Amid numerous statements from elected officials regarding the recently overturned landmark Roe v. Wade case, one statement from Mississippi’s Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has risen above the others.

Mississippi’s trigger law, which was certified by Attorney General Lynn Fitch on Monday, would ban abortion except in instances where the mother’s life is at risk or in cases of confirmed rape.

Gunn, however, responded with his belief that one of the exceptions to the law should not include underage incest. During a recent press conference, the longtime speaker expressed that he was unsure of how the legislature felt about adding cases of incestuous rape to the list of exceptions.

“No, [the trigger law] does not include an exception for incest,” Gunn said. “I don’t know that that will be changed.”

When asked if he believed that a pregnancy should be forced to continue even if it involved a 12-year-old who was molested by a family member, Gunn agreed.

“That is my personal belief. I believe life begins at conception,” Gunn explained.

Gunn’s comment regarding incest caught the attention of many people in not just Mississippi but nationwide, including the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Later that day, Gunn announced the legislature’s next steps in the process to ban abortion across the state, detailing the creation of the “Speaker’s Commission on Life.” The board, which will be comprised of House members as well as experts on policy, women’s health, adoption, and child protection, is responsible for coming up with recommendations for abortion-related legislation going into the 2023 session.

According to the nonprofit Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, 34 percent of cases involving rape are committed by a family member. In cases of adolescent pregnancies, the World Health Organization reports that underage mothers are subject to higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections. As for babies, the majority are at a higher risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and severe neonatal conditions.

Speaker Gunn did not respond to our request to comment.

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