Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Gunn and the Mississippi House has been hyper-focused on reforms that support women and families.
On Monday, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R) spoke at a Stennis Capitol Press Luncheon about his time in the Legislature. He opened his remarks by referencing a poll conducted by Magnolia Tribune regarding the top priorities for Republican leadership in the state.
READ MORE: Republicans & Democrats divided on top issues facing Mississippi
“I was struck by the list because I hold myself out as a Republican and I subscribe to Republican policies and Republican views and was very encouraged I guess to see that the number one issue on the Republican list was protecting family values,” said Speaker Gunn.
Gunn recently authored an Op-Ed in which he discussed where he sees the country heading, highlighting his belief that protecting family values was of great importance. He focused on finding ways to support single moms as well as children in the foster care system or going through the process of adoption.
“I think that is the foundation of our country and I think the future of our country hinges on how strong our family unit is,” said Gunn.
Gunn went on to add that there is an expectation that other institutions like schools, churches and public safety also support the family unit in the capacities that they serve in the community.
He says he worries for the future of the United States if the family unit is destroyed, adding that the Mississippi Legislature has worked to protect those values, particularly in the 2023 session.
In 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court through the Dobbs decision, returning the authority to regulate abortion practices to the states. The ruling did not make abortion illegal. However, in states with trigger legislation, such as in Mississippi, abortion was outlawed except for in certain instances related to the health of the mother or when a charge of rape was filed.
Since that time, Speaker Gunn said Mississippi lawmakers have focused even more intentionally on ways to support women, children, and families in the state. He formed the Commission on Life, to hyper-focus on how the House could enhance support for the family unit. Gunn said the House focus in 2023 was on pro-family, pro-life culture.
“How do we make sure that single moms have the support they need? How do we make sure that mothers and fathers who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy have the support they need?” said Gunn. “How do we support children in the foster care system and the adoption system?”
The commission recommended a number of bills that passed during the 2023 session. The legislation included tax credits for pregnancy resource centers, increased provisions for baby box drop offs, and additional credits for families who are adopting.
Gunn said there are 37 pregnancy resource centers in the state.
“We had one abortion clinic, and 37 pregnancy resource centers. I think that tells you right there that Mississippians are pro-life,” said Gunn.
RELATED: Reeves signs bill to prevent gender transition procedures in children
Those bills were also accompanied by another that will prevent minors from undergoing gender transition surgeries or treatments. Gunn said that decision is consistent with other laws that prevent minors from engaging in certain activities like drinking and smoking.
Speaker Gunn is one of the longest serving Speakers in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He announced prior to the 2023 session that he would not be running for re-election after his 12 years as Speaker.