Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s committee to study the needs of women, children and families in Mississippi has scheduled four hearings and seeks written input from the public.
Hosemann said last week that the bipartisan, nine-member Senate group will meet twice in September and twice more in October. The meetings will be open to the public and broadcast live on the internet.
Anyone who wants to chime in can send an email to the committee at the address WCFStudyGroup @senate.ms.gov. Consider this editorial one such contribution.
It’s good to see this issue being reviewed. But it’s a stunning admission of neglect and indifference that this work is being done only because the U.S. Supreme Court sent abortion law authority back to the states.
The reasoning is that the end of legal abortion in Mississippi means hundreds or perhaps thousands more babies will be born to low-income women each year. In effect, the overturning of Roe v. Wade means Mississippi is likely to get more of what is already its biggest problem: poor people who have few avenues of lifting themselves up — or who are indifferent to actually work at doing it.
There is no way that state lawmakers and others in positions of authority could have missed the challenges faced by many mothers in Mississippi before the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. They just weren’t willing to marshal more public and private resources to help.
Today, the light bulb is finally on. To be truly pro-life, you can’t stop worrying about kids when they are born; you have to help those who need assistance raising kids. Otherwise Mississippi will get more of what it already has.
The programs the Senate panel should consider actually begin before conception. For example, is there a way to provide birth control pills to more women who cannot afford them? In a perfect world, this would not be necessary. But in reality, it is something to consider.
Also, why is Mississippi’s infant mortality rate the highest in the nation? Why is our maternal mortality rate among the highest? One likely reason is that too many pregnant women wait months before seeking prenatal care. How do we encourage earlier doctor visits and pay for these medical services?
Discussion could include incentives to encourage adoption, but the state should assume that most women with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy will keep the child. What kind of help do mothers of modest means need?
While some of it may involve cash, a lot of it is in services. For example, is the state really doing everything it can to make sure that fathers who don’t live with the mother are paying their share of expenses? What about child care? How does a single mother hold down a job if she can’t find someone reliable to watch her child?
There are other elements. But the goal must be to provide opportunities for betterment and prevent the perpetual consignment of today’s low-income single mothers to that category.
Lawmakers seem serious about helping these parents and children. It’s just a shame it took the Supreme Court to make that happen.
— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal