Mississippi anti-abortion law at odds with facts

Posted on July 12, 2012

Examiner.com, July 12, 2012 by Karen Graham

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, in a ruling this morning, declared that the Mississippi anti-abortion law, signed by Republican Governor Phil Bryant in April will remain blocked. It’s unclear how long the law will be delayed.

Judge Jordan delayed the law’s implementation on July 1, with a temporary restraining order. His decision to continue blocking the law from going into effect keeps the states’ one abortion clinic from having to close.

Abortion rights advocates consider the law nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to bar abortion procedures in Mississippi, while supporters argue the measure is necessary to insure women’s safety.

The law requires that physicians performing abortions be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. They are also required to have admitting privileges in a near-by hospital. These requirements seem to be straight forward, but all the hospitals in the area have refused to respond to requests for privileges.

In addition to not being able to get admitting privileges, the “Jackson Woman’s Health Organization” clinic has evidence that has been submitted to the court that the sole purpose of the new law was to eliminate abortions in Mississippi.

Additional evidence was also submitted showing that there was no safety or health issues that would have motivated the bills’ passage. Judge Jordan said the case was unique because it was unclear whether the doctors at the clinic would be able to get admitting privileges.

Mississippi’s declining abortion rate

In the 1980s, Mississippi had 14 abortion clinics. The one remaining clinic, located in Jackson, was opened in 1996. It has performed about 3,000 abortions in the last 18 months. This fact is not lost in the awareness that Mississippi has the lowest rate of abortion of any state in the country, at a mere 0.02%.

Now add to this information the fact that Mississippi has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the country, at more than 60% above the national average. Further information shows that for the years 2006-2009, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas had the highest rates of birth for unwed mothers in the nation.

Mississippi led all states with an unwed teenage birth rate of 66 % in 2012. This rate outdistanced the national average of 39.1%. With the decline in abortion clinics in the state since the 1980s, Mississippi also had an astounding doubling of the teenage birth rate, from 28% in 1980, to 54.7% in 2010. Now it is even higher.

Mississippi’s poverty rate

The Mississippi Department of Human Services has releases the 2012 statistics on the states’ poverty levels, according to age groups. Besides having one of the nations’ highest poverty levels overall, the children of the state are faring even worse.

Latest figures for 2012 show the total number of children in the state 18 and under is 755,555. A breakdown of children living in poverty shows some very high numbers. First, the state poverty level, for all ages is 22.4%. For children under the age of 5 years old, 38.6% are living in poverty. Of the children 6-18 years of age, 32.5% are living in poverty.

Do any of the figures reported in this story correlate with each other, or are they separate facts that have no meaning unless seen as individual statistics? Does having access to an abortion facility mean there will be a reduction in the number of births to unwed mothers?

Mississippi has a most unusual situation. High unwed birth rates, high poverty level, and yet, an almost non-existent abortion rate. For those people that are pro-abortion, the figures will tell one story, and yet, for those who are pro-life, the story will be all together different. Who’s right?

Posted in: Mississippi