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Mississippi Legislative Updates

Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates works to pass laws that advance access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information including comprehensive sex education. From town halls to the State Capitol, Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates ensures that everyone can access quality, affordable reproductive health care.

2022 Background and Landscape

The Mississippi Legislature has long sought to restrict access to reproductive and sexual health care, introducing more than 130 restrictions since 2006. Every session, members seek out new ways to restrict access to or outright ban abortion, at times even targeting family planning and contraceptives. Rather than ensuring Mississippians have access to the resources and tools they need to thrive, legislators actively support bills that have devastating consequences for families. At Planned Parenthood, we know that access to safe and legal abortion is a critical part of health care, as is having access to a range of contraceptive options and wellness screenings. In 2011, Mississippians voted decisively to keep politicians out of our reproductive health care decisions. Ultimately, any pregnancy decision, including the decision to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child, must be left to a person, their family, and their faith, with the counsel of their doctor. 

Even after that decisive vote, the legislature continues to attack access. Leadership insists that members ignore the will of their constituents and vote the party line. After gaining a Republican Party trifecta following the 2011 elections, controlling the state House, Senate, and Executive branch, steadily increasing legislative attacks on women and families, working people, the LGBTQ community, communities of color, and on Mississippians standing at the intersections of those identities is the norm. Prior to the economic impacts of COVID-19 becoming a concern, the damaging effect of corporate tax cuts are looming, and significant budget cuts continue to impact state agency budgets.

Through it all, members remain laser-focused on chipping away at abortion access as part of their overarching effort to outlaw abortion by any means possible. In the last 3 years, legislators have passed an unconstitutional 15-week, and following that, a 6-week abortion ban. The 15-week abortion ban was signed into law, temporarily blocked by a US District Court, and appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative federal appellate courts. The lower court decision was ultimately upheld by a three-judge panel. “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” the appeals court judges wrote. 

In 2020, ignoring the US District Court ruling that 2018’s 15-week ban "unequivocally" violates women's constitutional rights, legislators introduced multiple bans, including one to ban abortion outright. A ban specifically using racist stereotypes to target women of color passed and has been signed into law. PPSEA and our partners pushed back, but the anti-abortion supermajority ultimately prevailed. 

2022 Session Expectations

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court and the election of President Joe Biden is expected to have impacts on the 2021 legislative session. Conservative lawmakers are emboldened by what they view as a sympathetic SCOTUS and seeking to provide solace to their base after the loss of the Presidency. These circumstances create a toxic legislative environment ripe for a frenzy of anti-abortion legislation. In addition to the topics listed below, continued COVID-19 relief and related issues like workforce development will be of interest again this session. 

Access to Safe and Legal Abortion
The courts enjoining a 15-week abortion ban did not stop Mississippi legislators from passing a 6-week abortion ban. Whether members attempt to pass another clearly unconstitutional measure is less of a question and more of a certainty, as states jockey for position to rush bills to the Supreme Court. Legislation could take many forms, including a complete ban on abortion, or something more insidious. We anticipate seeing as few as 5 or as many as 15 bills introduced attacking access to safe and legal abortion.

Medicaid Expansion
Affordable health care coverage is critical to Mississippians, and Medicaid expansion could extend additional coverage to many individuals of childbearing age in Mississippi. Healthy moms mean healthy babies, and this expansion of care could only mean positive change for our dismal maternal and infant mortality rates. While no substantive efforts to expand Medicaid moved forward during 2020, interested parties continue to explore legislative and ballot initiative opportunities to move this policy forward, especially as uncompensated care costs rise, reimbursements dwindle, and rural hospitals close their doors. 

Equal Pay
Mississippi’s failure to pass equal pay during the 2020 session leaves us as the only state without state-level equal pay protections. Working closely with the Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative and Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, we continue to support legislative efforts to pass a policy ensuring equal pay for equal work. 

Democracy Reform and Voting Rights
Expansion of access to the polls is top of mind for many lawmakers, and restricting access is top of mind for others. COVID-19 demonstrated a clear need for expanded opportunities for voter registration, as well as early voting. With Mississippi’s long history of racist policy related to access to the polls, it is critical that any reforms expand, rather than contract access, and that a racial equity lens is applied to ensure that Black and low-income voters are not disenfranchised in the process. 

With COVID-19 exposing the cracks and chasms in the system and promised teacher pay raises at risk due to budget challenges, education will remain a priority issue for legislators. A split exists in the normal lock-step for the Republicans with members in affluent areas with good school systems being supportive of public education, and other Republican members more supportive of vouchers to be used for private and charter schools. 

Looking Ahead

Mississippi’s legislators should support a health care agenda that centers access to preventive care, including sexual and reproductive health care, allowing families to plan their pregnancies and improving health outcomes. Ensuring Mississippians have access to the information and services they need means a better state for us all. Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates will continue to push for the needs of those we serve, including access to equitable sexual and reproductive health care, and working with our partners on intersectional issues that impact the lives of our patients and supporters. All the while we will continue to provide opportunities for those most impacted by these issues to participate in the legislative process.


We #WontBePunished

In states across the country, ultraconservative lawmakers are cutting women off from care — and punishing them when they dare to fight back.

We won’t let it happen.

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Are you ready to join the fight to defend reproductive rights, expand access to health care, and protect those who rely on Planned Parenthood for care? 

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We count on members, activists, interns and supporters like you to help us organize outreach programs, host events, stop dangerous legislation from passing and advocate for the diverse communities that rely on Planned Parenthood. 

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