Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves voiced his support Sunday for legislation to expand health care aid to new mothers who choose life for their babies.
A pro-life Republican, Reeves said he will sign a Medicaid expansion bill into law “as part of our new pro-life agenda” if the legislature sends it to his desk, the AP reports.
Protecting babies’ lives is “a beautiful thing,” he said in a statement on social media. “I also believe that added stress will be felt by more Mississippi moms. We have to love them. We have to support them.”
Mississippi protects unborn babies by banning abortions, and approximately 5,000 more babies are expected to be born this year as a result of its new pro-life laws, according to Christianity Today. However, the state also has a high poverty rate and low access to maternal and infant health care, and pro-life advocates have made those needs a big focus of their work post-Roe v. Wade.
On Feb. 7, the state Senate passed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year post-birth, according to the report. The legislation now awaits action in the state House.
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Reeves said Sunday that he believes providing the extra medical help to new mothers is the “right thing to do” as a pro-life advocate.
“I don’t expect all of my friends to agree with this decision,” he said, Mississippi Today reports. “But I make it – as always – because I believe in my heart it is the right thing to do for Mississippi moms, given the facts as I see them today.”
Here’s more from the report:
Reeves’ announcement of support comes two days before a Tuesday deadline to pass out of committee in the House a bill approved by the Senate extending postpartum coverage. The bill appears to be in jeopardy in the House, where Speaker Philip Gunn has voiced opposition and Medicaid Chair Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, has refused to express an opinion on the issue. Hood has not even called a Medicaid Committee meeting this year where the issue could be considered. The GOP-led Senate passed the proposal in the 2022 session, but it was killed in the House.
Pro-life advocates all across the country are expanding support for pregnant and parenting families, both through legislative and community-based initiatives.
Many are working to expand Medicaid for new mothers, create tax credits for unborn babies and increase workplace accommodations (paid parental leave, flexible hours) for parents. Others are opening and expanding pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and other community-based charities that walk alongside struggling women and babies locally, providing material support, information, counseling and more.
In one powerful example of the pro-life movement’s dedication to helping mothers in need, last summer, actress Patricia Heaton, pro-life leader Lila Rose and others helped to raise $50,000 in 24 hours for a young Texas mother and her twin girls after she told the New York Times how the state abortion ban prevented her from aborting her babies.