Republican-led states are taking the lead in expanding protections for women and children in low-income households, particularly in areas where abortion is now illegal or restricted after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.
Following the overturn of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide last summer, at least six of the 14 states where abortion is completely or almost entirely illegal have enacted or are considering various measures that would increase support for pregnant women, mothers or young children. Meanwhile, seven other Republican-controlled states with less-restrictive abortion laws are considering similar measures.
For example, the Republican-controlled Mississippi state legislature passed Senate Bill 2212, with the lower chamber passing the bill last week. The bill awaits a signature from Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. The measure would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to a year. Following the court’s ruling last June, a trigger law went into effect outlawing all abortions, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest or if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life.
In Missouri, the Republican-led legislature passed legilsation which the Gov. Mike Paron signed into law exapnding postpartum Medicaid coverage will expand from 60 days to one year under legislation signed into law Thursday evening by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Missouri had the 12th-highest maternal mortality in the nation from 2018 to 2020, and three-quarters of pregnancy-related deaths in the state — or roughly 138 people — were preventable, the Missouri Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Board found last year. The bill was just one of several new bills expanding services to pregnant or new moms and children in the Show-Me-State.
The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which requires that healthcare providers “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence” to preserve the health of newborns delivered during an abortion procedure that a “reasonably diligent and conscientious” provider would with other live births.
In Wyoming, a law completely banning abortion went into effect in July and is currently being challenged in court. Last week, Republican Gov. Mark Gordon signed House Bill 4, extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum mothers from 90 days to 12 months. The legislation is expected to help between 1,000 and 2,000 low-income Wyoming mothers, according to a statement on the governor’s website. During a public signing ceremony for the bill, Gordon called the Medicaid expansion a “signature piece of pro-life legislation.”
Other Republican-controlled states, including Montana and Tennessee, have considered some additional benefits for women and families, though some have faced opposition. “Pro-life is much more than defending the lives of the unborn,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “This is not a matter of politics. This is about human dignity.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice