Mississippi’s Agriculture Commissioner Says Right to IVF Would Lead to ‘Cloning’

Sorry, but what does any of this have to do with agriculture...???

Mississippi’s Agriculture Commissioner Says Right to IVF Would Lead to ‘Cloning’

Ever since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are “children,” throwing access to IVF in the state into chaos, Republican officials have been tripping over themselves to make feckless statements about the fertility procedure. Enter Mississippi’s Agriculture Commissioner, Andy Gipson, who is for some reason weighing in on the matter because of a bill in the legislature that would protect the right to IVF in the state. In a video statement Gipson shared on social media on Thursday, he baselessly says the bill, HB 1688, would lead to “back door abortion and possible cloning and selling of ‘genetic materials of humans.’” (HB 1688 was originally introduced as a bill to increase pay for health care workers in the state, but recent events in Alabama prompted one Republican lawmaker to add an amendment that would codify a right to IVF.)

“Don’t let anybody tell you it’s IVF. IVF is already legal in Mississippi, perfectly legal,” said Gipson, making absolutely zero sense. “This is a new and dangerous step.”

A couple of questions off the bat: What does this have to do with Mississippi agriculture…? It seems a little above Gipson’s pay grade to concern himself with the reproduction of not just cows and other livestock but human women and IVF patients. I just wanted to address that before delving into all the other concerns with his batshit comments—namely that, by calling legal protections for IVF a “back door” to abortion rights, Gipson is saying the quiet part out loud.

The quiet part being that abortion, IVF, birth control, and all reproductive decisions are all equal in the eyes of the anti-abortion movement, whose agenda of pushing fetal personhood requires the policing of all of the above. Earlier this week, Tennessee Republicans blocked a bill that would have protected rights to IVF and birth control because they argued the bill would have weakened their state’s total abortion ban. And in Alabama, before Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill to enshrine protections for IVF, top anti-abortion organizations wrote a letter imploring Ivey to veto the bill. The letter refers to an embryo as “a child in the embryonic stage of development,” who should “be accorded the same human rights and level of dignity that all other human beings… are granted.”


Gipson’s bonkers commentary is pretty much aligned with top Republicans and anti-abortion leaders on the issue. None of them seem particularly fazed by the devastation that Alabama IVF patients have faced since the state Supreme Court ruling, which prompted at least three fertility clinics in the state to suspend IVF services and leave patients with fertility struggles in limbo for weeks.

In his video statement, Gipson (who formerly worked as an attorney and member of Mississippi’s House of Representatives from 2008 to 2018) also calls HB 1688 “the greatest assault on the cause of life that we’ve seen in Mississippi in a long time,” and says it’s an effort to “copy a U.S. Senate Democrat’s language,” referencing Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) recent bill to codify a right to IVF on the federal level. (Senate Republicans blocked the bill.) Gipson maintained that HB 1688 is “a dangerous, unnecessary bill” and a “step” toward “what the Democrats are trying to do in Washington.” Of course, I’d like to emphasize here that the amendment in question that would accord protections to IVF was added to HB 1688 by a Republican legislator. So…

That Republican, state Rep. Missy McGee (R), who also serves as Medicaid Chairwoman, tried to defend her amendment from criticism within her own party, Mississippi Today reports. “There is nothing more pro-life than trying to conceive a child,” McGee said at a committee hearing for the bill on Thursday. “The direction things have been going in the nation, especially with all that’s happening in Alabama has been a big concern to a lot of folks,” she continued, adding, “We want to protect those rights for our Mississippians who are going through that process [IVF].”

All perfectly reasonable but I have to say, Republicans like McGee really can’t act surprised when their party veers in the direction of Gipson rather than her common-sense amendment. When you support abortion bans and “life begins at conception” language, this is what you’re opening the door for: <embers of your own party equating IVF with abortion and “cloning.” It’s really that simple.

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