June 10, 2020

Mississippi Surrenders Any Claim to Being Pro-Life

global virus

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States when most of the country was under shelter-in-place orders, there was quite a bit of talk about how the process of re-opening would be guided by medical science. That may be the case in some states, but it has not seemed to be the case in many others. In looking at the numbers, there are states where fully re-opening makes good sense. They have not experienced the explosive growth seen in other states. In fact, there are states where the growth of new cases seems to have stabilized and has remained that way for some time. I have no issue with these states re-opening.

As for Mississippi, the re-opening was premature. We were experiencing record high growth in new cases and deaths right before we re-opened. Had the decision about when to re-open been based on medical science, we still wouldn't have re-opened many counties. And since we re-opened, the numbers have continued to climb. Based solely on public health considerations, it is painfully obvious that we re-opened way too early and that more Mississippians will die because of this.

Of course, Mississippi's decision to re-open when we did was not based on medical science. It was based on economic considerations as well as political considerations. Gov. Tate Reeves decided that losing more lives was a small price to pay for trying to get our chronically abysmal economy back on track. I suspect he's also well aware that a significant portion of his base continues to believe that COVID-19 is a hoax designed by the Democrats to discredit President Trump. And that's not all. Reeves probably also realized that many people, regardless of their political affiliations, simply grew tired of the quarantine. Gov. Reeves put these considerations above the health and safety of Mississippians.

Now that we have re-opened, the issue of mask-shaming has emerged as something significant enough that Gov. Reeves had to address it recently. Evidently, wearing the sort of face masks still recommended by the CDC is now a sign of weakness worthy of contempt. Even more worrisome is the number of well-educated and otherwise sensible people I know who were previously being careful about not contracting the virus and who have now abandoned most precautions. Their rationale is always the same: "It can't be that much of a problem or we wouldn't have reopened." It baffles me how so many of these people, many of whom claim to be outraged over the recent incidents of police brutality, can simultaneously hold these pre-Nixon levels of blind trust in their government. It seems not to have occurred to many of them that Gov. Reeves simply decided that more deaths were acceptable to boost the economy.

We had to re-open eventually; however, it feels like we are being lied to about the risk. The value of human life appears to have taken a back-seat to economic, political, and other considerations. Perhaps those who survive will be far more skeptical of the pro-life label going forward.