Hats off to the religious right once again, this time for Mississippi's latest honor—that of being the state with the highest teen birthrate in the nation.
I attribute this honor, in great part, to antiabortion activists in the state who succeeded in shutting down six of the state's seven women's health clinics. I remember helping to produce a TV segment on the Jackson women's health clinic—the only remaining clinic in the state offering abortions to early-term pregnant women. Most of those women were too poor to afford the small (compared with other medical procedures) fee charged by the clinic.
I remember an interview with a single mother who already had several children—all by different fathers. She had driven hundreds of miles to the clinic for an abortion, only to find out the state's 24-hour waiting period barred her from having the procedure until the next day. She had left her children with friends and could not remain in Jackson overnight because she had to take her children home that night. And she did not have enough money for the gas to drive home and back the next day.
Mississippi isn't the only state where religious abortion foes (and most abortion foes are religiously driven) have helped drive up the teen birthrate.
We note elsewhere on this website that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that the nationwide teen birthrate rose in 2006. It was the first increase in 15 years.
Is this a great country or what?