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Here's how Mid-South leaders are reacting to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

Below is a look at how leaders from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas are responding.
Credit: AP
Anti-abortion protesters celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. Friday's outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, including Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Here’s what Mid-South leaders are saying about the ruling:

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves:

“Mississippi has led the nation to overcome one of the greatest injustices in the history of our country. Our state’s historic case before the United States Supreme Court was the catalyst for overturning Roe v. Wade and has made the nation safer for children than it was just a few short hours ago.

Let’s be clear: this decision will directly result in more hearts beating, more strollers pushed, more report cards given, more little league games played, and more lives well lived. It is a joyous day! Tomorrow, we will wake to a new world, enthusiastically prepared to take on the challenges ahead and to take every step necessary to support mothers and children.” 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee:

“Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of a hopeful chapter for our country. After years of heartfelt prayer & thoughtful policy, America has a historic opportunity to support women, children & strong families while reconciling the pain & loss caused by Roe.

We have spent years preparing for the possibility that authority would return to the states, and Tennessee’s laws will provide the maximum possible protection for both mother and child. In the coming days we will address the full impacts of this decision for Tennessee.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson:

“For decades I have said Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Today, the Supreme Court overturned the abortion ruling and returned the issue to the states. Arkansas is a pro-life state, and we are able now to protect life.”

Tennessee Republican Party:

“For half a century, Roe vs. Wade has been the law of our land and we applaud the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision to reverse course and allow the States to determine questions of life. We are proud that our work in Tennessee by electing good, pro-life Republicans has produced a long legacy of leadership that values the culture of life. However we know the fight for life does not end today, it merely shifts the debate from Washington to all the State Houses across the country and serves as a reminder that our struggle is not complete. The prayers of millions and the actions of many were answered today as we all rejoice in the gift of life on this day.”

Tennessee Democratic Party:

“This decision is a direct assault on the rights of Tennesseeans. The Court's interpretation of the constitution on this issue is flawed and a direct insertion of political activism on the highest court in the land. This decision made by a conservative majority on the court, will empower a radical majority serving in state legislatures across the country. Politicians will be even more emboldened by this decision to impose their most restrictive views on us. Today, an essential and lifesaving freedom was discarded by a court installed to protect it.” - Hendrell Remus, TNDP Chair

“We are going to keep pushing back against anti-choice representatives and legislation any chance we get. The Tennessee Democratic Party will work to support pro-choice candidates and legislators as well as abortion rights groups in state. We’re prepared to fight for the safety and autonomy of Tennesseeans.” - Brit Bender, TNDP Executive Director

Mississippi Republican Party:

“For decades, Mississippi has sought to foster a culture of life within our borders, but our value-driven actions were thwarted by the deeply flawed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions. Because of the tenacity of Governor Tate Reeves, Attorney General Lynn Fitch, and Mississippi’s legislative leadership, however, the Supreme Court today took the federal government out of the abortion conversation and rightly returned these policy decisions to the states. As conservatives, we believe in a constitutionally limited federal government – inclusive of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. We also believe that every life, born and yet-to-be born, has dignity and value. Today’s decision upholds both of these foundational values.” - Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux 

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN):

“Having worked alongside Tennesseans to protect the innocent lives of unborn children for years, I applaud today’s Supreme Court ruling. Despite false claims from the left, this decision will not ban abortion. Instead, it returns the decision to the states and empowers state legislatures with more flexibility to craft policy through the democratic process,” said Senator Blackburn. “It is unacceptable that a draft opinion was leaked in advance and that the person responsible has not been caught. The leaker has jeopardized the safety of our justices, and threats of violence by the radical militant mob are unacceptable. We appreciate the brave law enforcement officers working overtime to protect our justices and their families.”

U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN):

“I believe we have a moral duty to protect unborn children who cannot protect themselves. Today is a consequential day, not only for those who believe that all life is a precious gift, but also for American democracy and the rule of law. This decision doesn’t ban abortion—it simply returns decision-making on abortion to the people. That’s how it should be in a republic—matters not addressed by the Constitution should be decided by the people through their elected representatives, not by nine unelected judges in Washington, D.C. I will continue to strongly advocate for pro-life policies that safeguard our children and our families.”

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS):

“This is a momentous day for our nation, and Mississippi led the charge. This decision is an answered prayer, marking the beginning of the next chapter in our fight to protect the unborn,” Wicker said. “The Court’s ruling confirms what many legal experts have known for decades – that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and the power to set abortion policy should rest with the people and their elected representatives.”

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS):

“Roe v. Wade has been a terrible stain on our nation for too long. I am grateful to God for His divine guidance in the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs. By effectively overturning Roe v. Wade, the United States will step away from the notion that aborting a baby must be allowed on-demand and up until the birth. Today, the Dobbs decision stands as an affirmation that states can take actions to protect both the preborn and their mothers. The decision does not outlaw abortion, as some pro-abortionists contend. But it is a significant departure from Roe in that the people, through their elected leaders, will guide how each state approaches abortion, rather than a nationwide policy set by unelected judges. As we move forward as a nation, I believe greater attention should be paid to the needs of pregnant women and their babies. I am so very proud that Mississippi has had a leading role in overturning Roe v. Wade, and I will continue to pray for God’s guidance over the Supreme Court and all policymakers who will now take up the abortion issue across the country.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR):

“This is a long-awaited, consequential day for our nation. The Supreme Court’s decision to affirm there is no constitutional right to indiscriminately sacrifice the lives of children in their mothers’ wombs is the culmination of decades of work to correct the tragic, deadly lie that unborn babies are expendable and undeserving of protection. I’m pleased to have helped confirm justices to our nation’s highest court who are committed to interpreting the Constitution in a manner that is consistent and true to its intent and meaning. With this ruling, the American people will finally have the opportunity to enact their will on this issue instead of unelected judges in Washington, D.C. I am proud of Arkansas’s steadfast commitment to defend the sanctity, dignity and value of every human life, including vulnerable children who deserve our compassion and care.”

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR):

“Roe was a tragic mistake, taking from the American people and their elected representatives a deeply moral question. The Supreme Court has finally corrected this mistake and I highly commend the millions of Americans who toiled for years to achieve this great victory for unborn life and self-government.”

Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN):

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court took a historic step overturning Roe v. Wade. This will rightfully return the authority to regulate abortion back to the states and to our elected representatives. Abortion laws should be debated and decided by the American people, not dictated by judges. I will always remain committed to advocating for strong pro-life policies and upholding the sanctity of life.”

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus:

“Republicans packed our nation’s highest court with radical right-wingers to take away the ability of women to control their own bodies and hand that power over to politicians. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. Even though we’ve been preparing for this, we are still devastated by the news. And Tennesseans will suffer the consequences. This decision gives Republicans the power to ban abortions and force women and girls to carry pregnancies to term — even when they became pregnant as the result of a rape or incest… Republicans are turning back the clock on women’s rights and taking away a constitutional right to privacy that women in the United States have had for almost 50 years.”

Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper:

“I have often said that abortion is a complicated and very personal decision. And I personally believe that we don’t spend enough time on finding solutions to the reasons why some people have to have abortions. However, this ruling means that in Tennessee, all abortions will be criminalized, including for victims of rape and incest. Women should have the right to make their own, personal healthcare decisions. This is an unfortunate decision based on politics instead of established law and, according to the vast majority of polls, the will of people.”

Tennessee Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis):

“The Supreme Court just reset the clock on women’s constitutional rights to 1972. This decision puts the lives of women in imminent danger by handing politicians control over our most personal healthcare decisions. This is a stunning reversal of a decades-long expansion of our personal privacy rights, and, it’s disgraceful because it will not affect every American equally. Men’s reproductive liberties are completely untouched and protected…

“Those with economic means, access to transportation, and friends who can help them get around legal roadblocks will still be able to exercise some control over their own bodies. But poor women and many Black women, women who already feel the sting of inequity in our laws and economy, will feel the repercussions of this decision right away.

“In this country, our sisters and daughters should have the same rights that our brothers and sons have, which is exactly why women should be trusted to start a family when they’re ready — without interference from politicians. Instead, we are going backward and the extreme politicians who brought us to this point are ready to shred our rights even further.” 

Tennessee Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis):

"As a woman who has lost a child during pregnancy, I know that every pregnancy is unique and complex. That is why women should have control over their own bodies and lives—including the decision about when to start their family. The Supreme Court’s extreme and unprecedented decision to overturn Roe v. Wade takes away the ability of women to control their own bodies and turns that power over to the Tennessee General Assembly... It is unconscionable that a group of politicians, who mostly neglect families that look like mine, now have the power to endanger women’s health and criminalize our doctors for offering appropriate live-saving care. I am devastated. I am angry. But words fail to describe the pain and horror I am feeling right now as I try to make sense of where this dangerous decision will lead us. But know this: A new fight begins today. We will not stop until every woman has the explicit right to shape our families, to access the healthcare we need, and to decide when or whether we have children."

Shelby County GOP:

"This is a tremendous turning point for our country. If we are "One Nation Under God..." then we must adhere to that authority and choose life. It matters who governs locally, regionally, and nationally. The right leadership produces results for future generations." - Cary E. Vaughn, Chair

Memphis NAACP:

"It is absolutely a woman's right to choose what she wants to do with her body. The NAACP has long held that position and we continue to hold that position in light of this decision by the Supreme Court. We will keep fighting for women's rights." - Van Turner, Memphis Chapter President

Tennessee Right to Life:

“This is a historic moment that we have been fighting for and working toward since our organization was founded in the wake of Roe,” said Stacy Dunn, President of Tennessee Right to Life. “This is a victory for democracy. For the first time in almost 50 years, the voters and their elected representatives will have control over this issue rather than unelected judges, and we applaud that. This decision will allow our Tennessee laws to reflect our Tennessee values that unborn children should be protected by law and that every person deserves the right to be born.”

ACLU of Tennessee:

“The Supreme Court’s unprecedented and unconscionable decision today rolls the clock back nearly 50 years on our fundamental rights, forcing anyone who becomes pregnant in Tennessee into second class status. And politicians won’t stop here. The same anti-abortion extremists seeking to control the bodies of pregnant people are coming for our right to access birth control and gender-affirming care, marry who we love, and vote,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director. “While we will do everything in our power to block these bans in the courts, we’re not stopping there. Tennesseans across the state are already mobilizing. We will be in the streets, demanding access to reproductive health care, and we will take our fight to the ballot box to hold politicians accountable. The road to regain our rights is long, but the ACLU will be there every step of the way, until we have the control and power to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.”

Southern Christian Coalition:

“I am grieved by today's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade” said Rev Laura Becker, Pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. “Decisions about our bodies and their care should be between the individual, our doctors, and our God. The worrisome truth is that now that abortions will no longer be legal in the majority of states in the US, including Tennessee, it will only eliminate the option for safe abortions, and it will impact already-marginalized communities the most. It is a moral failure on the part of our government to eliminate access to abortion care when our country offers so little support for young families in terms of affordable health care, parental leave, or subsidized child care.”

“I am both heartbroken and scared of what the effects of overturning Roe v Wade mean for Tennesseans, and that many who believe themselves to be Christians have been at the center of this effort,” said Rev. Dr. Lilliam Lammers, Associate Pastor of First Congregational Church in Memphis. “Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, yet this ruling is devoid of the values of care, empathy, freedom, and privacy. A ruling like this negates the complexities of human lives, which Christ always met with compassion in the Gospels.

“Women I love have ended pregnancies. All of these women have multiple children. I guarantee that each and every one of us loves and cares for someone who has ended a pregnancy, whether we know about it or not. Women choose to end pregnancies for many, often complicated reasons- frequently medical ones, and now in Tennessee, a safe termination will no longer be an option.

RELATED: Which states will likely ban abortion now that Roe v. Wade is overturned?

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