For the Love of Women, Kids, Everyone Else

On Monday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas' admitting-privileges laws and anti-abortion laws requiring surgical centers were unconstitutional because they place "undue burden" on women seeking abortion access in the state. The 5-3 ruling sets precedent in these types of cases and is already trickling down to similar provisions in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin and, of course, Mississippi. The state appealed its admitting-privileges lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court, spending precious state resources and time appealing a law that the 5th Circuit already deemed unconstitutional, and on Tuesday, June 28, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from both Mississippi and Wisconsin.

State leaders Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn all voiced their discontent at SCOTUS' ruling Monday, in which they echoed the idea of protecting women and their unborn children from a "potentially dangerous procedure," but what they and many lawmakers fail to mention is how many women undergo abortions because they have no other options. Limiting access is not the answer. In fact, it's more dangerous for women, and this week, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that fact.

In her concurring opinion on Tuesday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "When a state severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety."

If the state actually cares about these unborn children, how are we taking care of them once they're born? The Mississippi Adequate Education Program hasn't been fully funded in years, 27 percent of the state's children are living in high-poverty areas, and it took a child dying for funding to miraculously appear for the state's foster-care system in the latest legislative session. The state has fallen into a pattern of spending money on political promises—unless forced to do otherwise (ahem, Olivia Y).

And what about the LGBT children who grow up to be tax-paying citizens? Under House Bill 1523, it's a free-for-all on discrimination because of a "sincerely held religious belief," but dehumanizing Mississippians will only lead to severe economic backlash, hurting us all, as we have already seen in the last two months.

Despite a federal judge blocking part of HB 1523 on Monday, Lt. Gov. Reeves immediately made his stance clear. "I hope the state's attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the 5th Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians," he said in a statement.

This isn't the first time we've seen bills pop up claiming to be the best for women, religious freedom or education, only to end up wasting valuable taxpayer dollars defending patently unconstitutional laws, and it's time for this political game to end.

The Legislature is already in a financial bind—calling a special session with two days left in the fiscal year clearly means things are bad. So quit making them worse by wasting tax dollars on lawsuits that go nowhere except as a bullet point on your campaign flyers for 2019.


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