Faith, Abortion and the Hippocratic Oath – Mississippi

Mississippi has not much to be proud of. It’s the state that leads the US rankings in teenage pregnancy rate due to a juxtaposition of faith, economics and social issues. It’s a state proud of it’s “Christian Morals” and it shows.

In April 2012, there was only a single abortion provider. The Jackson Women’s Health Organisation has struggled to stay open since then. Every other provider of post-coital contraception and abortion has shut down because of a backdoor law. Well, two of them to be precise. Gov. Phil Bryant (from the party that starts with an R and ends in an N – Surprised?) signed a law in place requiring any doctor performing an abortion to have hospital admitting privileges. The second law allows hospitals to deny and to refuse to provide a medical service based on religious grounds.

It’s either really Christian or the hospitals take the Hippocratic Oath extremely seriously.

The seven hospitals in the region have repeatedly rejected requests by these physicians to get admission privileges. This was due to their medical practice being inconsistent with hospital policy and “practice with abortions and in particular elective abortions” and the belief that it would lead to the disruption of their function and business within the community.

Bear in mind that the Jackson Women’s Health Organisation is it’s own clinic. None of the procedures would happen on Hospital property. That the denial of admission privilege was done solely to prevent association with and to halt the operation of a clinic that provides a basic medical healthcare service. Abortion is considered in inalienable part of women’s healthcare across the globe. It is a method of giving women the ability to control and space their births with all the social, physical and economic benefits that ensue. The fight to give women the right to full and comprehensive contraceptive care is an entrenched battle between religious belief and medical science.

In 2011 the Jackson Women’s Health Organisation served 2000 patients. It is believed that number rose in 2012 due to the closure of other clinics. Judging by general abortion statistics the vast majority of these patients would be low income and teenage women. In reality Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the USA with a Poverty Rate of 22.6 (22.6% of the population exist below the American Poverty Band – This may not be the same as the international poverty band but these people are “Poor By Western Standards” and uncontrolled births help entrench the poverty further.). If these women wish to get an abortion they would have to travel more than 3 hour travels to the next state and adhere to mandatory 72 hour waits in addition to having to pay for the procedure out of pocket (A cost of around $500). For the majority of women requiring the service this makes it impossible for them to get an abortion.

As it is Mississipi is one of the states with the lowest abortion coverage. At the moment there are just two gynaecologists providing the service.

Neither of them live in Mississippi and they fly out to provide healthcare. This effectively means that the state of Mississippi has worse coverage for contraception than the majority of India. Abortion is legal only until the 16th week of pregnancy meaning that you cannot do abortions for medical defects since the majority of defects are detected around the 20th week (hence the 20th week ultrasonogram). Abortion clinics have to be built like hospitals driving their costs up and their sizes up preventing the procedure from being easily available in smaller towns where the size of such an institution would be prohibitive and overhead would be much higher driving the cost of abortion up artificially. Doctors must perform a pre-abortion sonogram and torture the women using the image and the heartbeat as well as read from a “script” in order to not “condone” abortion. This “counselling” is mandatory. The waiting period is 24 hours too. Minors cannot get an abortion without parental consent in a core breach of doctor patient confidentiality.

In short? It’s the pro-life wet dream. Abortion doctors are not provided any protection to the point that the only people willing to brave the harassment to provide healthcare (even such reduced healthcare) do not live in the state.

In addition there are bills being passed (such as Senate 2795) which restricts the availability of mifepristone and misoprostol which induce abortions. This would make the usage of the pill illegal for the first 7 weeks after menstruation and would require the pill to be taken at the clinic rather than say “in the comfort of home”. This means that women would need four visits to a clinic to terminate a pregnancy at a financial cost.

America loves it’s Wars. War On Drugs. War On Terror.

This isn’t a “War on Abortion”, this is a “War on Women” and a “War on Poverty”. This not only costs more money but also forces these women to give birth to children they cannot care for. It’s called “entrenchment of poverty”, it is the creation of a state of poverty that is self perpetuating by eliminating the various methods one could theoretically use to improve their lives thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty and even expanding it.

Many Americans have said “Why should we pay for women to have abortions”. Many have used language such as “Why should we pay for women to slut it up”. It’s simple

1. Birth Control and Abortion provide women with the same level of economic value as men. It allows them to control the reproductive cycle until the circumstances are perfect for the birth and growth of children at a level where the parents can provide the optimum possible care for the children.

2. It allows people to control the number of children that they have in order to ensure every child has a fair share of resources. This is not up for debate, every woman with poorly spaced children outside the “super rich” is subject to poor health as well as poor health of children. The reason behind it is very simple. Children require love and care, the lack of spacing will result in insufficient attention being given to both (older children make do with less attention). I am aware of spacings of 9 months and in such cases either the first or the second child fails to thrive adequately due to the simple fact that the mother cannot physically care for a 1 year old and a 3 month old at the same time. Waiting a year before trying again produces markedly noticed results.

3. If you have 4 people and have enough food for 3, 1 person doesn’t starve. All 4 starve. When one eats around a family, everyone splits the food.

Denial of abortion for the sake of a religious world view harms the poorest of Mississippi disproportionately. It forces many middle class people to “become” poor. It strips women of their basic healthcare. From the various pro-life propaganda aimed at portraying abortion as “black genocide” such legislation and it’s ensuing philosophy is used to suppress minorities who are often in dire need of economic stability. One of the most telling things is that the majority of the workers (and indeed the doctors) are black. The majority of the women requiring abortions are black and poor. The majority of the protesters are well off upper middle class and white. The invocation of “black genocide” is a startling reminder that the pro-life movement have no grasp of why abortion takes place. In addition the usage of Martin Luther King and the comparison of the clinic (An all black clinic) to the KKK is terrifying. When asked about why black people require more abortions, protesters have responded with “because they have more kids due to the welfare state which is responsible for the degenerate current culture of black people.

Mississippi’s laws can only be described as Kafkaesque. Parents (of one gender! Please? Do you think homosexuals are going to be allowed to adopt in Mississippi?) have had to sue their spouse in order to force them to overturn the veto to allow their daughter to get an abortion.

It is a breech of church and state. It is the usage of bureaucracy to sneak pro-life laws into being. And it has to stop.

Because as of now? The women of Mississippi may actually have worse access to proper reproductive healthcare (I am willing to bet Mississippi is pretty big on abstinence based education) than India.

The alternative? Well they have places like the Centre for Pregnancy Choice.

Where pro-life pamphlets have been seen portraying the usage of condoms as Russian Roulette…

“[U]sing condoms is like playing Russian roulette…In chamber one you have a condom that breaks and you get syphilis, in chamber two, you have an STD that condoms don’t protect against at all, in chamber three you have a routinely fatal disease, in chamber four you have a new STD that hasn’t even been studied…”

Where staff whose qualifications include “mother” and “Sidewalk protestor” rather than “Trained Medical Professional” have said

They think, it wasn’t their fault anyhow, so let’s just go ahead and kill it

The Centre for Pregnancy Choice is the LEADING provider of “reproductive health service” (If you can call what they provide a service) in Mississippi. They have ties with a variety of schools which have “Abstinence” pledges (an act I often compare to screaming DODGE at soldiers in a warzone rather than giving them bullets. Because not being hit by a bullet is better than being hit. So dodging is better than body armour.) and they routinely hand out things like the Russian Roulette pamphlet.

You require a doctor to prescribe the morning after pill and even if a prescription is available it’s a treasure hunt to find a place that will give you the pill. Many doctors find patients unable to fill their prescriptions for the morning after pill.

The stats are clear. Mississippi has the 3rd highest teenage pregnancy rate (oh don’t worry! The others are falling. Mississippi’s rate is rising.) the highest teenage birth rate (No. 1!) and it ties with Louisiana for the highest Infant Mortality Rate.

This is an abortion ban through the back door. While places like the Philippines make progress in trying to reduce their abortion rates, the Pro-Lifers of the USA think that the piles of dead women and rampant poverty are a necessary sacrifice (Don’t worry! In Heaven You Will all Be Zillionaires!) to create a “moral state”.

In the Philippines the methods of abortion include bamboo canes, toxic drugs, physical damage and “staircases” (Seriously? Women hurl themselves from buildings and down stairs to cause abortions rather than watch children be born, starve and die over and over again.). At what point do we stop? Do we ban women from massages? Do we ban pregnant women from using staircases or being above the ground floor in a building?

Mississippi heralds the rise of the backstreet abortionist. Abortion rights are not being eroded openly but through small small legislations with wide ranging effects.


  1. oursally says

    Don’t call them pro-life – call them anti-choice. If they were pro-life they would be interested in the welfare of babies already born, and their parents and their siblings.

  2. hjhornbeck says

    Seconding oursally, here. The label “pro-life” implies that pro-choice people have less concern for life. In reality, we have equal (or perhaps even greater, as oursally suggests) concern for the protection of life… we simply disagree on where life begins.

  3. Nepenthe says

    If they were actually pro-life, having the nation’s highest infant mortality rate wouldn’t be considered winning.

  4. says

    “The second law allows hospitals to deny and to refuse to provide a medical service based on religious grounds.”

    So it would be perfectly acceptable for a hospital run by Jehovah’s Witnesses to deny blood transfusions? Or a hospital run by Christian Scientists to offer only prayer? Or a hospital run by Hindus to provide only Ayurvedic medicine?

  5. glodson says

    Oh, just fuck this country.

    Some where along the way, people got it in their head that Freedom of Religion means they are free to force their superstitions onto the rest of us.

  6. says

    Gregory – Hindus don’t believe in Ayurveda religiously… There is no mandate for it. Hindu hospitals actually tend to be really really mediciney.

    The problem is their coverage is poor resulting in quacks operating in the cracks.


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