Today is a big day for Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. A new Mississippi law requires every abortionist in the state to be board certified as an obstetrician-gynecologist and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Representative Mims claimed the law does not outlaw abortion. The idea was to require physicians at the clinic to be able to follow their patients to a local hospital should complications arise. However, “…if this abortion clinic is closed, I think it’s a great day for Mississippi.”

Representative Mims isn’t the only one. It’s no secret Republican Governor Phil Bryant is against abortion. In his words, he wants Mississippi to be “abortion-free.” Also, Terri Herring, president of the Mississippi-based Pro Life America Network feels the only way that unborn babies will be safe is when abortion is no longer available, “Would we like to see this clinic close? Absolutely!”

To counter the potential closing, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization has filed a lawsuit arguing that the law is unconstitutional and would close the clinic by imposing medically unjustified requirements on physicians who perform the procedure.

Still, a Health Department spokeswoman has said the department intends to inspect Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Monday, July 2nd, the first day that both state government offices and the clinic is open.

While the state does its best to impede on a woman’s right to abortion procedures, they apparently will do little to help support that child after life begins. The Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Mississippi as the poorest state in the country. Other studies have reported Mississippi has the highest birth rate among teenagers, and the second-highest infant mortality rate. More than half of Mississippi births occur out of wedlock. Of the 2,297 women who had abortions in Mississippi in 2010, according to the State Department of Health, most were unmarried, most already had at least one child and more than three-quarters were black. Mississippi had the lowest life expectancy in the United States and the highest rate of adults 25 years or older who have not completed high school or equivalency degree. Lastly, most Mississippi workers have the lowest in personal earnings and wages.

What is surprising is not that Mississippi was at the bottom, but just how far down the bottom was. According to the Human Development report, a process of enlarging people’s freedoms, opportunities and improving their well-being, Mississippi Ranks near a level I’ll classify as abysmal. In fact, Mississippi is so bad; they would have to improve to be labeled ‘Abysmal.’ (Ok, that’s my own classification.)

As a Buddhist, I honor the precept do no harm.  But if one is for life, then one has to be for quality of life as well. Childcare and higher education are essential for working families and their ability access to economic security in the long-term. Covering child care equates to 25 weeks of work for a Mississippi minimum wage earner. The reality is that families have many other expenses aside from child care that are equally if not more essential like food, housing, health care, utilities.

Thus, Covering all these costs is increasingly out of reach for those earning amounts near the minimum wage and beyond. These findings underscore both the importance of public supports and programs that reduce these expenses for families and initiatives that move more working adults to quality-wage employment.

If we are pro-life, then we must be pro-quality of life. If we do one without the other, our works is inconsistent with our faith.

————————————– Post Script ————————————–

Reporters Alexander E.M. Hess and Samuel Weigley, 24/7 Wall St reported Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group identified the 10 states with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 people due to a lack of insurance. Guess who’s number 1?

1. Mississippi

  • Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 15.82
  • Percent of population uninsured: 18.2 percent (ninth highest)
  • Percent living below the poverty line: 22.4 percent (tied for the highest)
  • Life expectancy at birth: 74.81 years (the lowest)

But at least Mississippi is tackling the problem of abortion head-on. Praise Jesus!