Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves once again dodges specific questions related to the well-being of people in his state. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Reeves doubled down on his anti-abortion position despite the state’s poor showing in several indicators related to health, education, and economic well-being.
In the middle of a conversation about the state’s abortion bans and the pending Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Reeves says officials have a duty to improve the quality of life for the state.
“I think we have to do everything we can as policymakers to improve the quality of public health in our state,” Reeves said. “One of the hopefully silver linings that come out of dealing with the pandemic over the last year and a half is that we have seen significant investments in infrastructure both from the state and federal level in our public health system, and I think we need to continue to do that.”
Picking up on Reeves claim to care about children and improving residents’ quality of life, Tapper cited several indicators around infant mortality, child hunger, and a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and then asked about children currently living in Mississippi and how do they fit into Reeves “culture of life.”
In response, Reeves immediately goes back to his talking points about “unborn” babies instead of addressing the real-life, breathing children in his state.
Despite acknowledging the need to improve life outcomes for children currently living in Mississippi, Reeves and his party has not consistently passed measures to improve outcomes. A September article from Mississippi Today highlighted the state cutting off thousands of parents from needed childcare assistance during the pandemic.
Mississippi has received notice for its quality pre-k, the state ranked 39th in pre-k access for four-year-olds and 42nd in spending.
At a time when people needed even more support, Mississippi’s leaders, including Reeves, have not consistently risen to the occasion. Instead, he and other members of his party are fixated on interfering with the medical decisions of pregnant people in opposing abortion.
Also, the investments Reeves mentioned in his interview come from the current administration, which he and his party have stood in opposition against, including efforts to once again expand Medicaid. He is also among those who have sued the Biden administration over vaccine mandates.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Mississippi’s hospital infrastructure was in dire straits before the pandemic and has taken a brutal hit ever since it began. Earlier this fall, the death of a Black mother and her unborn child was partly due to the lack of an open hospital in their rural community.
Mississippi is 50th in the country for infant mortality. A 2017 report from the state health department describes infant mortality as “a complex problem that is influenced by social and environmental factors, the health of the infant’s mother during and before pregnancy, pregnancy-related complications, the infant’s health and the medical care received by the mother and infant before and after birth.”
Last year, Mississippi Public Broadcasting noted the rise in child hunger, noting the state had the highest rate of projected food insecurity in 2020. Reeves might want to get a handle on these and other issues impacting families in his state instead of being fixated on pregnant people having more babies.