Mississippi Highway Patrol

Mississippi Highway Patrol begins a travel period


www.wxxv25.com – Rick Gogreve – 2022-11-23 19:26:29

With the holidays here, people across the coast are hitting the roads.

The began a travel period that started this morning at 6 AM and will continue until midnight on Sunday.

Expect to see more troopers on the roads along the interstates and federal highways.

The Highway Patrol also wants to remind travelers to be safe while on the road.

IF you are feeling drowsy, stop at a nearby rest stop and avoid driving while tired.

IF you need to stop for gas, make sure to stop at a well-lit station and keep your back against the car while filling your…

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Mississippi Highway Patrol offering safety trips for Labor Day Weekend


www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-09-02 14:52:17

As people prepare to travel for the Labor Day Weekend, officials want to remind you to stay safe on the roads.

is reminding drivers to buckle up and make sure your passengers are buckled up as well.

Don’t drink and drive.

Allow enough time for travel to avoid excessive speed and observe speed limits.

Eliminate distracted driving activities such as eating or using a cell phone.

Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive.

All Coast law enforcement agencies have joined MHP in the Labor Day Weekend ‘Drive…

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Bears on Patrol project begins with drop off locations across the Coast


www.wxxv25.com – Rick Gogreve – 2022-08-15 18:17:30

The North Bay Civitan Club of D’Iberville and St. Martin is back with its signature service project: Bears on Patrol.

The Bears on Patrol service project is used as an opportunity to help at-risk youth caught in emergency situations.

Each year the club collects teddy bears that are given to a chosen emergency service group to then give to children in emergency situations to help comfort them.

This year, the teddy bears will go to Troop K.

There will be several drop off locations through September 9th including Gunter Library, Jerry Lawrence…

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former Mississippi public safety commissioner


rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-08-12 19:07:56

Former Audit Department Chief Investigator David Huggins seen here in this file photo died Wednesday at 74.

JACKSON (AP) — David Huggins, who led the under one governor and the Department of Public Safety under another, died Wednesday. He was 74.

A Department of Public Safety release on Friday said Huggins died of health complications, but it did not specify what kind.

Huggins became a state trooper in 1969. He served as chief of the Mississippi Highway Patrol from 1988 to 1992 under Democratic Gov. Ray Mabus.

From 2000 to 2004, Huggins was commissioner of the Department of Public Safety under Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

“Commissioner Huggins was a visionary,…

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Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation


www.wxxv25.com – Associated Press – 2022-08-10 11:21:07

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — An incident involving a white officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral video showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch.

The , captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over the officer’s conduct.

The video shows one of Lewis’ brothers, Eugene Lewis, standing in the street in handcuffs as Packer Lewis and another brother, Darius Lewis, yell that they are recording the incident. Suddenly, the…

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Video of MHP officer putting handcuffed man in chokehold sparks probe


rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi – 2022-08-09 07:41:14

JACKSON, Miss. — An incident involving a white officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral  showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch.

The video, captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over the officer’s conduct.

How it happened

The video shows one of Lewis’ brothers, Eugene Lewis, standing in the street in handcuffs as Packer Lewis and another brother, Darius Lewis, yell that they are recording the incident. Suddenly, the officer grabs Eugene Lewis by…

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Mississippi police officer and unidentified woman killed. Search underway


rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-06-10 11:21:27

MERIDIAN — A man suspected of killing a Mississippi officer who was responding to a call about domestic violence has been arrested, authorities said Friday.

The said Dante Marquez Bender, 31, was taken into custody but didn’t provide additional details. He last seen Thursday afternoon in Meridian, where Officer Kennis Croom was fatally wounded while on…

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New historical marker honors Fannie Lou Hamer


‘It goes back to knowing what your history is’: New historical marker in Winona acknowledges civil rights beatings, honors Fannie Lou Hamer

WINONA – It has been 59 years since Euvester Simpson returned to the city where arrested and beat her and five rights activists in the former county jail.

The then-17-year-old remembers seeing Fannie Lou Hamer after the beating and how black and blue the woman’s hands were. Simpson tended to Hamer’s injuries by applying a cold rag to parts of her body. 

On Thursday, a multiracial group gathered to unveil a historical marker from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at the former Montgomery County jail site at the corner of Oak Drive and Sterling Avenue. Over 100 people watched Simpson and Hamer’s daughter Jacqueline Hamer Flakes pull a covering off of the marker.

“Being here today, she accomplished what she was here to do,” Hamer Flakes said about the commemoration and historical marker, which are part of her mother’s legacy. 

The unveiling kicked off four days of events called Bridging Winona, which are meant to remember the violence at the jail and commemorate Hamer and the voting rights activists.

“The bridging of Winona can be a model for other towns not just in Mississippi, but all across this country,” said Simpson, who is now 75. 

Bridging Winona organizer Vickie Roberts-Ratliff, whose family has lived in Winona for six generations, was one of about 10 people who worked with city officials to get the historical marker and organize the commemorative events. 

“It goes back to knowing what your history is,” she said. “It can be difficult to peel it back, but it can be healing.”

Roberts-Ratliff was an infant when Hamer and other activists were beaten at the jail, and she didn’t learn about what happened in Winona until later in life.

She tried previously to get a historical marker for Hamer at the former jail site, but those efforts were not successful. 

During last year’s city elections, a new mayor, Aaron Dees, and members of the Board of Aldermen were elected. She approached Dees, who agreed to work with her. 

He agreed that the city was missing the mark by not acknowledging what happened to Hamer and the activists. Dees said a historical marker should have already been installed. 

“This is a time to bring the whole community together – every racial background, every ethnic background,” he said. “Hopefully we can take this and move forward with this.” 

The marker now stands as a reminder of the infamous violent events that occurred here nearly 60 years ago. In 1963, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizers Hamer, Simpson, Annell Ponder, June Johnson, James West and Rosemary Freeman were returning by bus to Greenwood from a voter education workshop in South Carolina. Members of the group got off the bus when it stopped in Winona and went to a lunch counter where they were refused service. The bus terminal area was segregated and they attempted to integrate it.

A trooper tried to get the activists to leave. Local police came and arrested them. Hamer got off the bus to see what was happening to her colleagues, and was arrested too. 

Hamer Flakes, the youngest and only living daughter of Hamer, said at the jail, her mother heard screaming and crying from 15-year-old activist Annelle Ponder, who refused to address the officers as ‘sir.’ She was beaten until her dress was soaked with blood, according to SNCC. 

SNCC leader Lawrence Guyot, who came to the jail to post bail for the group, was also beaten.

A sheriff’s deputy beat Hamer with a billy club and then ordered two inmates at the jail to beat her with the club until they were too tired, Hamer Flakes said. The deputy also beat Hamer in the head, her daughter said. 

Hamer sustained injuries to her kidney and eye from the violence that were with her for the rest of her life, her daughter said. 

“It’s amazing how she went through that beating but came out stronger than ever,” Hamer Flakes said. 

The U.S. Department of Justice tried five Montgomery County law enforcement officers. They were acquitted by an all-male, all-white jury in December 1963, according to SNCC. 

Hamer was born in 1917 in Montgomery County and lived in Ruleville in Sunflower County. She was the daughter of sharecroppers and a former plantation worker who began organizing in her 40s. 

In 1962, Hamer and a group traveled to the Indianola courthouse to register to vote and were given literary tests. The day later she was fired from her plantation job. 

Hamer joined SNCC and helped organize voter registration drives, including during the 1964 Freedom Summer. 

She stepped into other forms of organizing, including through politics when she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer and activists traveled to the 1964 Democratic National Convention and delivered a speech asking the party to be recognized. In her speech to the DNC, Hamer shared her experience of violence in Winona. 

In Ruleville, she founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative to help Black farmers grow produce to be financially self-sufficient. 

Hamer, who died in 1977, has been commemorated in Ruleville, including through a sign marker along the Mississippi Freedom Trail and a statue of her and a memorial garden where she and her husband Perry are buried. There is also the Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights in Belzoni. 

Oxford-based nonprofit Land Literary and Legacy, which Roberts-Ratliff is a member of, was part of organizing the Bridging Winona events. The group’s goal is to create awareness about the importance of local and national history through education and building community. 

In April, Dees signed a proclamation designating June 9 as Fannie Lou Hamer Day – the same day she and the activists were beaten at the jail. 

The goal is not to forget what happened in Winona, but to bring closure and use lessons from the past in the future, Dees said.

He hopes to see a day declared for Hamer at the state and national level. Hamer Flakes said she would like to see an annual Fannie Lou Hamer day in Ruleville. 

On Thursday after the marker unveiling, the community celebrated at the Winona Community House with live music, food and children’s activities. There were also oral history interviews conducted and people were able to register to vote. 

A Friday morning event at Winona Baptist Church focused on land ownership. Representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Park Service talked about sustainable agriculture, forestry, economic development and other issues.

Other commemoration events planned for the weekend are:

  • Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Fannie Lou Hamer legacy historical bus tour across the Delta. The cost is $95 and lunch is provided. Register on Eventbrite
  • Sunday 4 p.m.: Fannie Lou Hamer community health service at Winona Baptist Church. This is a free event and registration is suggested on Eventbrite.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi’s history of lax abortion laws before Roe v. Wade


The state fighting to dismantle abortion rights has a long history of permissive abortion laws

When Mississippi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn , it argued that a long tradition of state restrictions on in the U.S. “defeats any claim of a deeply rooted right” to an abortion. 

Yet for all but 21 of its 156 years as a state prior to Roe, Mississippi law technically permitted abortion for any reason until about 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Mississippi Today could find no published scholarship on the history of abortion law in Mississippi specifically, and national histories on the topic generally make little reference to the state. 

This story is based on interviews with historians of abortion law and politics, stories published in Mississippi newspapers in the 19th and 20th centuries, books and articles about abortion law in the U.S., vital records held in the state archives, and a review of Mississippi laws.  

Decades after almost every state had banned the procedure at any stage of pregnancy, Mississippi’s law continued to follow the practice in place at the country’s founding: Abortion was a only if the fetus was “quick,” or had been felt to move, typically around four months of pregnancy. Mississippi did not update that law until 1952, though people were still prosecuted for abortions prior to that, usually in cases where the woman had died.

The role of abortion in the U.S. decades ago sits at the center of arguments about its future. In his leaked draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito sided with the state’s reading of history when he wrote: “An unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

But if the Court’s final ruling in Dobbs v. is similar to Alito’s draft, Mississippi’s legal restrictions on abortion today will become tighter than they have been at almost any point in its history. The state’s trigger law will ban abortion in all cases except those involving rape and a threat to the mother’s life.  A separate law passed in 2019 banning abortions after six weeks contains no exception for rape.

The evolution of state law after Roe in 1973 mirrors the national rise of the pro-life movement as a powerful force in Republican politics. A movement that was once predominantly Catholic and Northern became largely evangelical and Southern. 

A movement that was once on the defensive in Southern state legislatures, including Mississippi’s, began winning one victory after another across the South and Midwest. 

Mississippi, for decades an outlier in permitting many abortions, became in 2021 the state that asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. 

“If there’s a person in Mississippi who thinks that by virtue of these laws going into force after Dobbs, that we’re returning Mississippi to the good old days … they’re wrong,” said Aaron Tang, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis who has researched the history of state abortion laws. “The substantial history of Mississippi throughout its existence as a state has been basically what Jackson Women’s Health Organization is willing to do: a procedure up to 16 weeks.”

At the time of the founding of the United States, abortion was legal in every state until the “quickening,” following the English common law tradition. Because there was no medical way to prove a pregnancy until the fetus had moved, a woman could claim she needed to “restore” or unblock her menstrual cycle, and no one else could insist she was actually pregnant. 

“The popular ethic regarding abortion and common law were grounded in the female experience of their own bodies,” the historian Leslie J. Reagan wrote in her book “When Abortion Was A Crime.”

Mississippi passed its first law on abortion in 1839: “The wilful killing of an unborn quick child, by any injury to the mother of such child, which would be murder if it resulted in the of the mother, shall be deemed manslaughter in the first degree.”

The law was part of an early wave of such legislation across the country from roughly 1820 to 1840. The historian James C. Mohr wrote that such laws were usually passed as a part of larger revisions to the state criminal codes; abortion itself was not a public issue.

Mid-19th century newspapers treated abortion as a practice that did not involve Mississippians – or, at least, white Mississippians. After the , as white Mississippians resisted Reconstruction and Black political empowerment, state newspapers sometimes presented abortion as a symbol of Northern immorality. 

In 1867, the body of an infant was found near the river Under the Hill in Natchez, partially buried in the sand, wrapped in an apron and tied to two bricks. 

“We sincerely hope that the abortion and child murdering mania which rages in the New England States and in New York to such a fearful extent has not reached us,” the Natchez Democrat opined. 

Racism was also part of discussions of abortion in Mississippi, as it was around the country. 

“Notwithstanding the North makes pretensions to all the purity of the land, and essays to look down upon the South in her barbaric practices, yet infanticide the most inexcusable and disgusting, as well as most horrible of all crimes, is of common occurrence there, while with us it is almost unknown, and when known is confined almost exclusively to the Negroes,” wrote a columnist for the Vicksburg Post in 1870. 

By 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, Mississippi was one of only three states with a law against abortion that nonetheless explicitly permitted it prior to quickening. (The others were Arkansas and Minnesota.) Six states had no laws on abortion. 

In the draft opinion leaked in early May, Alito claims that the remaining 28 states prohibited abortion at all stages, and thus that the Fourteenth Amendment – in which the court has located a right to privacy – cannot be understood to protect a right to an abortion. 

Other historians disagree with that claim. A brief filed in Dobbs by the American Historical Association reported that pre-quickening abortions were legal in 11 states and less heavily punished in seven more by 1868. Tang claims that the true number of states that departed from the common law tradition to prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy by the time of the Fourteenth Amendment was actually 16.  

And before the 20th century, there was no way to prove a pregnancy before the quickening, so abortion laws pertaining to a “pregnant woman” in practice were not always substantially different from laws that applied only to post-quickening abortions.

A Mississippi Supreme Court decision in 1898 rejected the idea that fetuses were people, citing the common law. 

A Pontotoc woman named Emma Prude was indicted for ending her own pregnancy under a state law prohibiting giving medicine to a woman pregnant with a “quick child” to end the pregnancy. The Court not only determined that the statute didn’t apply to a woman who ended her own pregnancy, but also wrote that “An infant in the mother’s womb … is not considered a person who can be killed within the description of murder,” even if the pregnancy was quick. 

However unusual Mississippi’s law was by 1868, it was much more of an outlier 50 years later. 

In the late 19th century, states continued to pass stricter abortion laws, largely at the urging of doctors and the American Medical Association. The movement was led by Dr. Horatio Storer, a Boston doctor who believed fetal life began at conception, and that abortion was murder at any stage of a pregnancy. 

Historians say the physician-led anti-abortion movement painted midwives, many of whom were Black women, as “abortionists” in an effort to position themselves as better trained and morally upright – and win over more patients. Storer was also concerned that white Protestant women were using abortion to limit the size of their families, while he believed recent immigrants, many of whom were Catholic, regarded abortion as immoral.

“Of the nine States that had not yet criminalized abortion at all stages (as of 1868), all but one did so by 1910,” Alito wrote. That state was Mississippi. 

In 1909, state lawmakers considered a proposal to ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, which had been backed by the Mississippi Medical Association. An abortion that ended a pregnancy would be manslaughter. 

“An infant in the mother’s womb, whether viable or not, is hereby declared a human being,” the legislation said. 

Yet the proposal didn’t become law, for reasons Mississippi Today couldn’t locate. 

Mississippi legislators considered another total abortion ban in 1918 but would not actually pass one until 1952. 

The lack of a ban didn’t mean that abortion was universally regarded as normal or morally acceptable. But it did mean, as one dismayed headline in the Jackson Daily News in 1911 put it, “Abortion Not a Crime.”

The article explained that a group of physicians had investigated an alleged abortion and contacted local law enforcement. But they found that there could be no prosecution because there was no law against an abortion before “practically four months pregnancy.” 

People facing criminal charges for performing an abortion that resulted in a woman’s death could try to use this point in their defense. 

Dr. F. E. Lee, for example, never denied that the abortion he performed in 1916 had led to the death of a young woman named Mary Miller. Instead, he claimed the procedure hadn’t been a crime. 

At his trial in Corinth in 1920, Lee’s lawyer said that because Miller’s pregnancy was not “quick,” he had violated no law by performing her abortion and should not be held responsible for her death.

The prosecutor rejected that argument, but not that reading of the law. He acknowledged that the “original undertaking was not condemned by the law,” but said the doctor was still liable for Miller’s death.

Lee was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary. But if Miller’s procedure had gone as intended, law enforcement would have had no grounds to get involved – making Mississippi an anomaly in the U.S. at the time. 

Late in the evening on July 25, 1945, a former policeman named B.J. Jennings heard a car speed over the bridge above his houseboat on the Pearl River, not far from downtown Jackson. He saw someone toss something out of the car and into the water. 

Later, he found a purse and pair of shoes in the river and called the .

His call helped law enforcement piece together an explanation for what had happened to 18-year-old Betty Massey, a waitress at Abe’s Cafe who had been missing for days. Her body was found a few days later, floating in Rhodes Creek near Terry. Police arrested Dr. B.F. Johnson and said Massey had died in his clinic following an illegal abortion. 

Massey’s death became a media event. Her portrait ran on the front page of the Clarion-Ledger, where stories suggested she was a tragic symbol of the dangers facing young women during the social tumult of World War II. The newspaper reported that the father of her baby, a soldier, had written her “a nasty letter … in which he relieved himself of any responsibility.”

Massey, a white woman, was a “small-town girl working in Jackson,” and a member of “a prominent Delta family.” One story described “perhaps the most tragic point” in her death: Her boarding house at 313 State Street had been located just two doors down from the state office charged with helping unmarried pregnant women. 

Their case workers could have helped her “overcome some of her fears, dreads, and anxieties and face the reality of her situation so that the desire to destroy herself and others is allayed,” a representative said.

Some news stories about the doctor charged in Massey’s death mentioned that he had previously been convicted of manslaughter in the death of a Black woman named Etta Perkins following an abortion. Her life and case got little attention on its own. 

He had appealed the conviction and was out on bond when he performed Massey’s abortion, the papers reported. 

For Massey’s death, prosecutors chose a harsher charge — “depraved heart murder.” Johnson ultimately pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. 

By the time Perkins and Massey died, abortion in the United States – though illegal at all stages of pregnancy in most of the country – was becoming safer. Abortion was the official cause of death of about 2,700 women in 1930, accounting for a fifth of all pregnancy-related deaths that year, according to the reproductive rights nonprofit the Guttmacher Institute. In the 1940s, the development of antibiotics reduced deaths by making it easier to treat infections after abortion. In 1950, about 300 women died following an abortion. 

It’s not clear how many people died following abortions in Mississippi in the 19th and 20th centuries. Vital records held at the state archives did not list abortion as a cause of death until the 1920s, and in some years after that, all pregnancy-related deaths were tallied together. 

Mississippi Today reviewed records from 1927 through 1940 that showed abortion was listed as the cause of death for roughly 30 to 50 women each year. More Black women than white women died: In 1930, for example, abortion was the cause of death for 15 white women and 26 Black women. 

In 1952, the Mississippi Medical Association asked the Legislature to pass a stricter abortion law. Lawmakers obliged, prohibiting the procedure at all stages of pregnancy. 

The new law said someone who provided an abortion could be charged with manslaughter and sentenced to one to 10 years in prison. If the woman died, the crime was murder. The only exception was to save the life of the mother, and the law required two doctors to make that determination in writing. 

Pro-life advocates often point out that women were rarely prosecuted for their own abortions prior to Roe. Historians largely agree, but that fact doesn’t account for the public shame and pressure to cooperate with law enforcement women could endure during trials of doctors and partners, Mary Ziegler, a law professor and expert on abortion history, has written. 

Mississippi’s 1952 abortion ban didn’t explicitly prohibit such prosecutions. Mississippi Today found that at least one woman was arrested and charged with her own attempted abortion after she refused to cooperate with the investigation of two men involved.

In September 1962, Jackson police got a tip: An abortion was set to take place in a few days at a Travel Inn Motel on Highway 51, just outside of the city. Officers waited outside Room 152. They would later say they could smell a chemical odor, like a powerful disinfectant, wafting out of the room, and heard the clanking of metal instruments or furniture being moved. 

When they opened the door, they found a woman named Mary Ann Aiken hiding in the bathroom, covered in a sheet and holding her skirt in her hand. She was arrested for participating in her own abortion and taken to a hospital for a medical examination. 

Aiken, whose name was often spelled Mary Ann Eakin or Mary Ann Eakin Johnson, refused to cooperate with the authorities.

During the trial of Leo Hall, one of the men charged with the illegal abortion, Aiken denied she had attempted to get an abortion, frustrating then-District Attorney Bill Waller, who said he had a signed statement from her declaring otherwise and that she could also be charged with perjury. Aiken also said she was a prostitute and had had sex with Hall, who reportedly had ties to the Dixie Mafia, perhaps helping to explain why she would not want to testify against him. 

The trial for Aiken herself was delayed because she had to give birth – the abortion had not been successful. She pled guilty to the crime of attempted abortion. 

The state could also expend significant time and resources investigating suspected abortion providers. 

In May 1968, a Baton Rouge woman met a doctor in a Jackson motel room. After he agreed to perform an abortion and she handed him $200 in cash, Mississippi Highway Patrol agents who had set up the sting burst into the room and arrested him. 

He was eventually acquitted by jurors who were unconvinced that the woman had ever been pregnant.

By the mid-1960s, discussion of abortion nationally was intensifying. Feminists called for abortion to be legal and free. Professional organizations of doctors, attorneys and psychiatrists began arguing for more liberal abortion laws. 

The 1967 Mississippi Boys’ State convention – attended primarily by well-off white high school boys who hoped to become state leaders – passed legislation making abortion legal when the pregnancy could affect the mother’s mental or physical health and when the fetus would be born with a serious deformity. Though it wasn’t actual legislation, some observers saw it as an indicator of where public opinion was heading. 

“In a few years these same boys will be of voting age, and in the not too distant future some of them will hold real offices in state government,” noted an opinion columnist in the

In 1966, Mississippi became one of the first states to add a new exception to its abortion ban, allowing women to get an abortion if they said they had been raped. Unlike Mississippi’s 2007 trigger ban, the law did not require them to report the rape to law enforcement. 

Some of opponents’ points echoed pro-life claims today: that only God could make a decision to end a pregnancy, and that a woman who got an abortion could feel guilty later in life. 

Supporters’ main arguments were based on racist fears around sex between Black men and white women. The Daily Herald of reported that the measure passed the House after a speech by Rep. George Payne Cossar of Tallahatchie, who told his colleagues that pregnancy could result from “rape between the races.”

“Are you going to force this poor woman to carry this burden?” he said. “This bill is designed to prevent disgrace in a family.”

As of early 1971, abortion was legal in five  states – New York, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Washington. 

That year, a Hattiesburg lawmaker thought Mississippi should join the list. Rep. Robert Lennon introduced a bill that would make abortions legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

“Abortion must be considered a medical procedure and a private one between a licensed physician and his patient,” he told the Clarion-Ledger. “It should not be a part of our criminal statutes.”

The bill provoked a furious outcry. Catholic leaders in the state urged their 90,000 parishioners to lobby against it. One opponent in the Legislature called it “a possibly well-intended attempt to legalize the murder of innocent babies.” 

The bill didn’t make it out of committee, and Lennon didn’t run for reelection. 

Two years later, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe provoked a more muted response in Mississippi. Religious leaders were split: Catholics and some in other denominations told local newspapers they saw the ruling as a sign of moral degradation. 

Rev. J.C. Harris, pastor of a United Methodist Church in Biloxi, called the ruling “wonderful.”

“I believe a woman and her doctor should do what she thinks fit.”

Man-on-the street interviews captured a range of views among ordinary Mississippians, too. Some echoed Harris’s perspective. 

One Delta valedictorian used her high school graduation speech to warn that Roe would lead to “garbage cans full of aborted fetuses.”

Some states actively resisted the high court’s ruling: Rhode Island didn’t have an abortion clinic until 1975. But Mississippi and most other Deep South states did not, said historian Daniel K. Williams, who has researched the pro-life movement. 

“In Mississippi at the time, the pro-life movement didn’t really have a very strong presence because in the early 1970s the pro-life movement was very Catholic and very Northern, and Mississippi had a pretty low Catholic population, considerably lower than neighboring Louisiana’s,” said Williams, a professor of history at the University of West Georgia. “So, as a result, it was somewhat unclear in the early 1970s which direction Mississippi would go on abortion.”

An editorial in the Greenwood Commonwealth published the week after the ruling sounded relieved to declare that the Court had “essentially resolved” the legal question over abortion.

“The Supreme Court has very broadly liberalized abortion law and in so doing brought years of controversy and litigation to an end,” the editorial concluded. 

Nearly 50 years later, the state of Mississippi would claim before the Court that Roe was “egregiously wrong” and based on a flawed reading of U.S. history.

Left unexplained was Mississippi’s own unusual place in that story. 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

2022 Memorial Day holiday travel enforcement period concluded


www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-05-31 14:11:01

Mississippi Highway Patrol Accepting Applications For Cadet Class 66

Jackson, Miss - concluded the 2022 Travel Enforcement Period Monday at midnight.

The enforcement period began on Friday, May 27, at 12:01 am.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol issued a total of 15,263 citations, made 375 arrests for impaired driving, and cited 1,615 motorists for seatbelt violations. MHP also investigated 125 crashes resulting in 49 injuries with 4 fatal crashes…

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