DeSoto County legislators introduced two bills yesterday that would criminalize abortion in the state and prohibit employers from requiring their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rep. Dan Eubanks (R-Dist. 25) introduced House Bill 338, which would make anyone who “willfully causes an abortion” guilty of a felony. Violating the law is punishable by 1-10 years in the state penitentiary with fines between $25,000 and $50,000, the bill states.
The bill not only applies to women who receive abortions and the doctors who perform them, but also anyone who provides someone with the information they need to obtain an abortion. The penalties listed above would also apply to anyone who distributes information orally or in print, or through advertisements that helps someone receive an abortion.
Eubanks has a history of supporting anti-abortion legislation. He co-sponsored the 2019 “Fetal Heartbeat” law that banned abortions once a fetus develops a heartbeat at the six week mark. That law was deemed unconstitutional by federal courts, but Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has said she may appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Eubanks and Rep. Dana Criswell (R-Dist. 6) also introduced House Bill 719 on Tuesday that would prevent private Mississippi businesses as well as public employers from requiring their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“A public or private employer shall not require any of its employees, against the objections of the employee, to receive an immunization or vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 or Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) as a condition of the person’s employment or continued employment with the employer,” the bill states. Both Eubanks and Criswell have seats on the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, a body that will determine whether the bills get a full House vote during the 2021 legislative session.
Eubanks and Criswell are also members of the Mississippi Freedom Caucus, a group of five conservative House members, which also includes DeSoto County Rep. Steve Hopkins. Eubanks told supporters in an audio message on Jan. 3 that vaccine requirements would mean a loss of bodily autonomy.
“It’s your health. It’s your body. And you should have every say on what is forced into it and upon it. Anything less is nothing short of medical rape,” Eubanks said.