Mississippi’s abortion ban does not empower women.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wants to “empower” American women by abolishing their constitutional right to abortion. In an interview Thursday with Eternal Word Television Network, the Republican Attorney General explained that the abortion ban will help women who are forced to give birth, giving them “a chance to make a real difference in their lives.” These women “have all these new and different opportunities” that did not exist when Roe deer fell in 1973, Fitch said. And so, according to Fitch, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the next Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, will not be a tragedy but a blessing. *
This argument comes up in Mississippi Dobbs in short, in which Fitch argued that women simply no longer needed to have access to abortion. âMany laws promulgated since Roe deer“Tackle pregnancy-related discrimination, demand time off, help with childcare, etc.” It is shocking to hear this claim from Fitch, whose state refuses to enact laws that would grant basic protections and security to new and expecting mothers.
The point is, Mississippi remains a dangerous and difficult place for low-income parents to carry, birth, and raise a child. And the Supreme Court can only embrace Fitch’s fantastic thinking in denying this brutal reality.
At each stage of pregnancy, life is difficult for Mississippi women who are not wealthy. The state’s maternal mortality rate is significantly higher than the national average and its infant mortality rate is the highest in the country. And the racial disparities are staggering. Black mothers die about three times more than white mothers. While black infants make up only 43% of births, they account for more than half of premature births and almost 60% of infant deaths. Black infants also have four times more birth defects than white infants.
The states most keen to restrict abortion have the most devastating infant and maternal mortality rates.
Much of this pain and death could be avoided if pregnant women had access to medical care. But they don’t, because Mississippi refuses to provide the necessary funds. More than half of counties in the state do not have OB-GYNs or delivery hospitals. It is not surprising that children born in these counties suffer disproportionately low birth rates and infant mortality. Mississippi could solve this problem by expanding Medicaid, a law that would cover up to 300,000 people, including thousands of pregnant women, and pump money into rural health services. But Republicans across the state refused, effectively denying care to thousands of low-income mothers.
For newborns and their parents, the situation is just as grim. The lack of medical services in rural parts of the state prevents infants from receiving adequate care. And the state expels new mothers from Medicaid just two months after birth. This year, bipartisan Mississippi Senate lawmakers lobbied to permanently extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to a full year after birth, but Republican lawmakers at Mississippi House scuttled the proposal. The state’s high rate of uninsurance would be even worse if Fitch were to succeed: Last year, the attorney general asked the Supreme Court to repeal Obamacare, a decision that would have deprived health insurance of at least 111,000 Mississippians.
For many new parents, Mississippi therefore offers an excruciating choice: return to work immediately or lose your health insurance. Mothers who return to work may be paid less than their male peers: Mississippi is the only state in the country without a law guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. The United States is one of the two countries in the world without a national paid leave policy for parents. And like most states, Mississippi doesn’t mandate paid parental leave. (Government employees, including Fitch’s own employees, to receive no guaranteed paid parental leave either.)
Low-income parents in Mississippi may be eligible for child care assistance if they work at least 25 hours per week. But the state regularly subjects beneficiaries to a âredeterminationâ, which forces them to reapply for grants; many are then refused re-registration for opaque reasons. During the pandemic, an aggressive “new resolve” forced up to 4,100 parents to forgo this assistance, depriving up to 7,300 children of child care.
The sad truth is that many new parents in Mississippi cannot afford adequate care for their children, and the state refuses to provide sufficient help. It does not have a minimum wage law, which means the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour applies. The parent of a young child earning minimum wage cannot even begin to cover the cost of child care. As a brief filed in Dobbs According to 154 economists, the mother of an infant who earns $ 15 an hour, more than double the minimum wage, “faces childcare costs that total a third of her gross salary.” Mississippi law is not only indifferent to new parents; he is hostile to them.
It is cruel and tragic that the states most desirous of restricting abortion have the most devastating infant and maternal mortality rates. The Mississippi legislature could have spent the last few years helping new parents and expectant parents. Instead, he passed a series of laws that would force people to have unwanted pregnancies, and then refused to adopt basic measures to protect their health before, during and after childbirth. (While Dobbs involves a 15-week ban, the state has already passed a six-week ban, and Fitch has asked SCOTUS to green light the bans at every stage of pregnancy.)
In his EWTN interview, Fitch affirmed that the abortion ban would “empower” Mississippi women. But in reality, he’s more likely to kill them.
Correction, September 27, 2021: This article originally incorrectly identified Jackson Women’s Health Organization as Jackson Women’s Health Center.