The state that defended the right to pass pro-life laws at the Supreme Court and won in the Dobbs case is strengthening its support for mothers, fathers and children through new bills signed into law today. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed eight pro-life safety net measures that will support foster children, improve the adoption process, and provide aid to moms and babies.
In his State of the State Address earlier this year, Gov. Reeves introduced the proposals he signed into law today saying, “This is our new pro-life agenda. I’ve said before, it will not be easy, and it will not be free. But I know that together, we are going to get the job done and deliver the support Mississippi mothers and babies deserve.”
“Mississippi will always protect life. Our state will continue to be a beacon on the hill, a symbol of hope for the country, and a model for the nation,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “Mississippi will be relentless in its commitment to life. We will be relentless in our support of mothers and children. And we will be relentless in our efforts to advance the New Pro-life Agenda. The legislation I signed today is further proof that when it comes to protecting life, Mississippi isn’t just talking the talk – we’re walking the walk.”
Five of the bills signed today relate to adoption and foster care, including a measure on tax credits for parents who adopt a child. The other bills support babies and mothers during pregnancy and after a child is born:
HB 1671 increases the tax credit for life-affirming entities from $3.5 million to $10 million. These entities include pregnancy resource centers that offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, medical exams, counseling, parent classes, financial classes, and resources such as food, diapers, clothing, and financial assistance for housing and utilities.
HB 1318 amends the “baby drop-off law” by extending the time that an infant may be surrendered at a safe haven location.
SB 2781 establishes a state website to share information about life-affirming resources and organizations in Mississippi for pregnant women and parents who need help.
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SBA Pro-Life America Southern Regional Director Caitlin Connors commended pro-life leaders for bringing pro-life policies to fruition:
“The state that restored the right of the people and elected leaders to protect unborn children makes history again today, as Governor Reeves signs eight pro-life safety net measures into law. Through its Gestational Age Act, the life at conception protection that is now in effect, and more policies and programs that help families, it’s incredible to see how much ground Mississippi has covered in the course of a year to protect the unborn and serve their mothers in the Dobbs era.
“We thank Gov. Reeves, Attorney General Lynn Fitch, and legislative leaders for boldly advocating measures that carry out the full-picture pro-life mission to support women during pregnancy and beyond. The impact of these policies will be felt for generations.”
The Mississippi pro-life safety net measures signed into law today are the latest example of pro-life states advancing measures to support families. State legislatures across the country are currently considering bills to allocate dollars for pregnancy help centers, eliminate sales tax on baby items, create childcare tax credits, and support mothers in a variety of other life-affirming ways. Most recently, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice established the Mothers and Babies Support Program to aid women in need by creating a funding mechanism for the state’s pregnancy help centers.
House Bill 510 establishes a foster parents bill of rights. The legislation increases transparency for foster parents, expands communication opportunities with professionals, and makes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services personnel more readily available for foster parents. Additionally, it helps ensure that the educational needs of foster children are being met and provides access to available resources for parents.
House Bill 1671 expands the tax credit for pregnancy resource centers across the state from $3.5 million to $10 million.
Senate Bill 2696 creates an income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses. The program will cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of adoption expenses for those who adopt a child from Mississippi and $5,000 worth of expenses for children outside of Mississippi.
House Bill 1149 establishes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services as its own agency separate from MDHS. This separation will give it the ability to draw down more federal funds to support Mississippi families. The legislation will also help improve the efficiency of CPS procedures including adoption cases.
House Bill 1625 gives the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services the largest budget in its history. This equips the agency with the resources needed to effectively carry out its mission and better support Mississippi children.
House Bill 1318 increases the opportunities available for parents to choose adoption by authorizing safe haven baby boxes across Mississippi. The legislation increases the age that children can be dropped off at these boxes, authorizes safety devices to be sponsored by emergency medical service providers, and authorizes any city or county to sponsor a baby safety device.
Senate Bill 2384 establishes the Mississippi Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption. The task force will study Mississippi’s laws regarding foster care, adoption, and other related areas and make recommendations for improvement to the legislature.
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