Some have equated recent rhetoric over vaccination mandates with debate on the legality of abortion — a focus of Gov. Tate Reeves' Sunday interview.

Gov. Tate Reeves said on Sunday that he is against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, adding he believes “in individual liberties and freedoms and people can make decisions on what’s best for them.”

But when pressed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning, Reeves said that while he believes in the right to control one’s body, other factors have to be taken into account when it comes to women and abortion.

“What I would submit to you, Chuck, is they absolutely ignore the fact that in getting an abortion is an actual killing of an innocent unborn child that is in that womb,” Reeves told NBC’s Chuck Todd on the national television show.

On Wednesday of this week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi case which many prognosticators believe could overturn Roe v. Wade, the nation’s long-standing legal precedent that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion.

The case centers around a Mississippi law, passed in 2018, that would make abortions after 15 weeks illegal. That law has been stayed by lower courts as it has gone through the federal appeals process.

Reeves, the first-term governor, has drawn criticism for his handling of the pandemic response in Mississippi, including his unwillingness to firmly state that Mississippians should get vaccinated — even as other Southern Republican governors have gone to great lengths to do so.

READ MORE: Mississippians get mixed pandemic messages from experts, governor

Some have equated recent rhetoric over vaccination mandates with debate on the legality of abortion, which was the focus of Reeves’ interview Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“The difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself. Abortions actually go in and kill other American babies,” Reeves said.

Todd, the “Meet the Press” host, countered that vaccines were “about protecting a larger community,” not just protecting one’s self. 

“You could certainly argue that, Chuck,” Reeves said. “… The fact is that during this very horrible and challenging time since I was sworn into office in January of 2020, Chuck, we’ve had 800,000 American lives lost because of COVID. And my heart aches for every single one of those individuals that have died because of COVID.”

Reeves continued: “But 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.”

READ MORE: Gov. Tate Reeves celebrates suspension of COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.