Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi hates abortion. On March 23 he signed a bill that would criminalize all abortions in Mississippi as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned. After the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, Barbour announced his support a bill that allowed abortion only to save a woman’s life but made no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. (He would prefer a bill that made a rape and incest exception, but said he would sign the bill without it.)
Sharon Lerner wrote in The Nation (February 7, 2005):
As you read this piece about abortion in Mississippi thirty-two years after the right to have an abortion was affirmed by the Supreme Court, the government of Mississippi is marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in another way. Governor Haley Barbour has issued an official proclamation declaring the seven days leading up to the anniversary “a week of prayer regarding the sanctity of human life.” Barbour also authorized the placement of tiny white crosses on the lawn of the state Capitol “in memory of the unborn children who die each day in America,” according to the decree.
You get the picture. However, in Mississippi there’s much less concern for the lives of children after they are born.
I mentioned this in the last post — in an article to be published in tomorrow’s New York Times, Erik Eckholm writes that infant mortality rates in some of the southern states are going up.
To the shock of Mississippi officials, who in 2004 had seen the infant mortality rate — defined as deaths by the age of 1 year per thousand live births — fall to 9.7, the rate jumped sharply in 2005, to 11.4. The national average in 2003, the last year for which data have been compiled, was 6.9. Smaller rises also occurred in 2005 in Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. Louisiana and South Carolina saw rises in 2004 and have not yet reported on 2005.
Whether the rises continue or not, federal officials say, rates have stagnated in the Deep South at levels well above the national average.
Here’s more —
Most striking, here and throughout the country, is the large racial disparity. In Mississippi, infant deaths among blacks rose to 17 per thousand births in 2005 from 14.2 per thousand in 2004, while those among whites rose to 6.6 per thousand from 6.1. (The national average in 2003 was 5.7 for whites and 14.0 for blacks.)
The overall jump in Mississippi meant that 65 more babies died in 2005 than in the previous year, for a total of 481. …
…Poverty has climbed in Mississippi in recent years, and things are tougher in other ways for poor women, with cuts in cash welfare and changes in the medical safety net.
Here’s where Gov. Barbour comes in.
In 2004, Gov. Haley Barbour came to office promising not to raise taxes and to cut Medicaid. Face-to-face meetings were required for annual re-enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, the children’s health insurance program; locations and hours for enrollment changed, and documentation requirements became more stringent.
As a result, the number of non-elderly people, mainly children, covered by the Medicaid and CHIP programs declined by 54,000 in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years. According to the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program in Jackson, some eligible pregnant women were deterred by the new procedures from enrolling.
One former Medicaid official, Maria Morris, who resigned last year as head of an office that informed the public about eligibility, said that under the Barbour administration, her program was severely curtailed.
“The philosophy was to reduce the rolls and our activities were contrary to that policy,” she said. …
… The state Health Department has cut back its system of clinics, in part because of budget shortfalls and a shortage of nurses. Some clinics that used to be open several days a week are now open once a week and some offer no prenatal care.
The department has also suffered management turmoil and reductions in field staff, problems so severe that the state Legislature recently voted to replace the director.
Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund, said: “When you see drops in the welfare rolls, when you see drops in Medicaid and children’s insurance, you see a recipe for disaster. Somebody’s not eating, somebody’s not going to the doctor and unborn children suffer.”
Questions: Is Gov. Haley Barbour one of the most craven hypocrites on the planet? Or is he just oblivious to the suffering he is causing? And does the fact that many of Mississippi’s black citizens are living in third-world conditions even register with him?