A number of challenges continue to burden the mothers and children of Mississippi, especially after the landmark decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed Mississippi’s abortion trigger law to go into effect, banning abortion in nearly all cases.
In the wake of Roe’s overturning, advocates and activists have put even more pressure on state leaders to help rectify problems such as postpartum Medicaid expansion, overall access to health care, infant mortality and more.
On Sept. 27, the Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families, a committee created by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, held the first of a series of hearings to ascertain the breadth of these issues.
As reported by Senior Political Reporter Geoff Pender, “46% of Mississippi children are in single-parent homes. One in five children experienced hunger in the last year. Nine out of 1,000 babies in Mississippi die. In the rural Delta, there are 4,000 children for every one pediatrician — statewide that number drops only to 2,000 per — and many counties have no OB/GYN. Many mothers do not receive proper prenatal or postpartum care. Mississippi has alarming rates of premature, low-weight babies being born.”
Organizations representing Black women have criticized the Senate committee for the lack of members who are Black women, with only one out of nine members.
“Black women and babies experience a disproportionate share of the state’s highest-in-the-nation rates of stillbirth, low birth weight, and infant mortality,” writes Pender.
“What we’re asking for here is just a right to life,” said Angela Grayson, lead organizer for Black Women Vote Coalition and advocacy and outreach coordinator for The Lighthouse. “The data is here. The data shows that [extending postpartum Medicaid coverage] is good legislation and that that is what we need here in Mississippi for Black women to be able to go through the childbirth experience and not have the unnecessary burdens of inadequate health care.”
Community Health Reporter Isabelle Taft reports that according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi remains the deadliest state for babies.
In the United States as a whole, 5.42 per 1,000 live births died before their first birthday. In Mississippi, those figures only continue to rise — 5.7 among white infants, 8.12 statewide and 11.8 among Black infants.
And among the leading causes of infant mortality, while birth defects lead the nation, Mississippi infants mostly face premature birth — the highest rate in the country, pregnancy and delivery complications, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.