Miss. legislature proactive in creating pro-life climate

Miss. legislature proactive in creating pro-life climate

Miss. legislature proactive in creating pro-life climate

Sometimes a little encouragement can create a new revenue stream for a worthy recipient.

The Mississippi legislature has passed a number of initiatives to support life in the state, perhaps none more intriguing than a year-old move that allows businesses to use up to half of owed tax money in a contribution to a pregnancy crisis center.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed his state's Pregnancy Resource Act in last spring's session. The bill created a $3.5 million tax credit for individuals and businesses – and churches as well – to use in support of those centers.

State leaders say the Pregnancy Resource Act (HB 1685) is a great way to draw in some who may not have previously considered donating to a crisis center. They believe the bill is a huge incentive for businesses to get behind places that provide valuable tools for mothers who find themselves pregnant in challenging circumstances.

With almost 40 such centers in Mississippi, women in the state can go to talk through their pregnancy options and make decisions in a safe environment. They also learn about resources and available support to make more informed choices.

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) explained Thursday on American Family Radio the goal is to give those women the financial and emotional support they need through their pregnancy.

"We [also] have enhanced our foster care system with a Foster Parents Bill of Rights. We have enhanced our Child Protective Services. We have doubled the tax credit for adoption. These are all measures we've taken this year," Gunn told show host Jenna Ellis.

Gunn, Philip (R-MS) Gunn

The Republican leader said the moves increase the child's chances for having a stable home life while being raised.

"As the legislature we are making a strong statement that we are not just pro-birth. We are pro-life, and we are supporting mothers who find themselves in this situation to make sure these children are placed with a loving mother or loving families who are going to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," he said.

Blazing the trail to Roe's end

In addition to counseling, many pregnancy centers – most of which do not receive federal funding – provide sonograms and pregnancy tests at no cost.

"Mississippi will continue to take all available avenues to build and promote a culture of life," Reeves said upon signing the bill. "This means supporting mothers, passing pro-family laws, and strengthening community support systems."

Community support systems come in many shapes and sizes. Gunn estimates the Mississippi House has passed ten different bills this legislative session that are aimed at strengthening families.

"The family is the #1 entity that we should be working to protect," Gunn said. "There are certain things we have done to enhance, strengthen and grow the family. There are things we look at to strength the family unit – things like strong schools, low crime, strong police force, the church. We expect all of these institutions to come along and support the family."

Mississippi was at the center of last summer's landmark Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that returned abortion decisions to the states. The case's origin can be traced back to Mississippi House Bill 1510 in the 2018 legislative session. It banned abortions 15 weeks after a pregnant woman's last menstrual cycle except in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.

"That started in the Mississippi Republican caucus in 2018 when we sat in a room and decided this is a fight we wanted to fight, and we passed that deal," Gunn recalled. "And little did we know that that would be the bill that the Lord used to overturn Roe v. Wade. There are some states in this country that continue to have abortion – but in Mississippi, we have eliminated it here."

The journey of House Bill 1510 emboldened Mississippi lawmakers to press harder. "In response to that we decided we would even go further than what we'd already gone previous to that to really elevate our emphasis on pro-life measures," Gunn added.

The proper order for life & politics

Gunn, a professed believer in Jesus Christ, tries to keep a proper life balance between faith and politics.

"I am a firm believer that our religion should form our views on politics, not the other way around," he said. "I think we have a lot of people who let their political views try to shape their religious views, and that's backwards."

Gunn said response to pro-life initiatives has been "incredibly popular" in Mississippi because they serve the dual purpose of supporting families while checking government growth.

"Some of the solutions we have provided, our private sector solutions, are not [about] growing government. It's incentivizing the private sector to step up, and that's not a government expense. These are Christian people who want to see these mothers and babies supported," Gunn said. "It's a small example of how we can be creative in government and incentivizes the private sector to support a government problem rather than growing government and increasing taxes."

He hopes the response, particularly from churches, will increase. "The family is the bedrock of our nation, and it is under attack," he stated. "Attacking the family and our children is a tool the enemy uses to undermine our religion and our society."