After Banning Abortions, Mississippi Expands Medicaid Coverage to Help Pregnant Women After Birth

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 18, 2023   |   11:00AM   |   Jackson, Mississippi

Mississippi is working to ensure pregnant mothers have the health care and support they need to choose life for their unborn babies.

In March, state lawmakers voted to expand the Medicaid program to help low-income mothers and babies up to 12 months after birth – something Gov. Tate Reeves said is part of the state’s “new pro-life agenda.”

Last year, Mississippi led the way to overturning Roe v. Wade in the historic Dobbs v. Jackson case. Now, the state protects unborn babies by banning abortions, and approximately 5,000 more babies are expected to be born this year as a result, 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.

State Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, was a lead advocate of the Medicaid expansion in the state legislature this year, according to Scripps News. She said they passed the legislation because pro-life lawmakers are committed to supporting life both before and after birth.

“This year, as we find ourselves in a post-Dobbs era, the need exists to strengthen the social safety net and modernize our approach for helping our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” McGee said.

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Mississippi is not alone. Several pro-life states have voted to expand support services for pregnant and parenting mothers this year, including through Medicaid and increased aid to pregnancy resource centersmaternity homes and other nonprofits that provide resources to families in need.

Five other pro-life states also voted to expand Medicaid since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and others including Missouri, South Dakota and Idaho are considering similar action, according to the report.

For one Mississippi mother, news of the expansion is a huge relief. Brittany Lampkin told Scripps News that she became an advocate for new mothers after her own newborn died a few hours after birth.

She expressed hope that the increased resources will help lower the infant mortality rate in Mississippi. And along with maternal and infant health care, she said mothers also need better access to mental health services.

“Postpartum depression is a real thing; it’s talked about. But is there a treatment program?” Lampkin said. “I think now we can dive into those things, dive into things like that. Even I call out Medicaid and those private insurance providers to implement some sort of supplement or incentive program for mental health checkups.”

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 ensure 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 families locally, providing material support, information, counseling, encouragement and more.

In one powerful example of the pro-life movement’s dedication to serving 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.