In the 1950s I asked my mother if our cook Annie Carter voted. She said, “I have no objection, but I don’t know when she would since she comes to work before the polls open and doesn’t get off until after they close.”
Mississippi is trying to do the same thing with abortion—it may be legal, but clever men can a find a way around the law.
Here’s how they did it: the Mississippi legislature passed a law saying no Ob/Gyn at the one clinic left open in the State can perform an abortion unless he or she has admitting privileges at a local hospital. No doctor has yet been granted that privilege.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the country and has the highest birth rate among teenagers, and the second-highest infant mortality rate. More than half of births there 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.
Wealthy families can fly their daughters to another state or country for a safe, legal abortion. Poor families cannot. But who cares about poor black people, right?
On behalf of the clinic, a suit was filed to keep the law from going into effect, and a temporary restraining order has been granted. Otherwise, today, July 2, 2012, Mississippi would have become the first state to prevent ALL abortions.
Lawmakers argued that their concern was for the health of women, and the law was designed to make sure they were properly cared for in the event of complications. But supporters of the new law have publicly stated the broader intention: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’s Web site says that the law “not only protects the health of the mother but should close the only abortion clinic in Mississippi” One state legislator, Bubba Carpenter, was videotaped in May telling a gathering of Republicans that with the new law the Legislature had “literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi.”
Judge Jordan found the arguments compelling, writing, “Plaintiffs have offered evidence — including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers — that the act’s purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi. They likewise submitted evidence that no safety or health concerns motivated its passage. This evidence has not yet been rebutted.”
Stay tuned. Clever men will not be satisfied until we’re back in the kitchen—barefoot and pregnant.