While Mississippi’s lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House are setting up committees to explore what the state should do to help mothers and children, it is Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, who is surprisingly specific about what she thinks must happen.
In an interview with the Mississippi Today website, Currie acknowledged the state’s record on family and child services has been dismal. She said if it is not improved, legislative leaders should be voted out of office.
With the Supreme Court having overturned the Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling, she added that male state officials who don’t want to help women should get out of the way.
Currie, 65, described by Mississippi Today as a nurse, mother and devout Christian, said she has been a single mother for most of her life, so she understands what today’s women are up against. As a conservative, she was elated that a bill she wrote to outlaw abortion after a fetus was older than 15 weeks led to the case that overturned Roe vs. Wade.
In 2023 she will seek another term in the House. If re-elected, the website reported, “she plans to fight against a hostile, patriarchal state leadership in order to advance policies that allow women to thrive.”
Currie believes the state’s first step should be to provide enough money to ensure that each county’s health department is open and has a nurse practitioner on hand at least one day per week to prescribe birth control pills.
“We need to make sure every woman in every county has access to birth control,” she said. “And that may not sound like the Christian thing to say. That’s the most realistic thing to say.”
She blamed House Speaker Philip Gunn for this year’s failure of a bill to extend Medicaid coverage for women who have given birth, and blamed the decision on his aspiration to run for governor. In advance of that campaign, she believes, he didn’t want it to look like he was expanding Medicaid.
The state, she added, also made a mistake when it cut funding for the Mississippi Department of Health.
“Our health departments are where I took all my children to get their vaccinations,” Currie told Mississippi Today. “At one point it was a big place to go for health care. And now, we have left them with nothing. ... So let’s put our money where we know it works, where people can get the care they need.
“It’s not expanding Medicaid, which they’re so against. If you don’t wanna expand Medicaid, you’ve got to expand access to care. I think that is the number one issue. If we don’t do that, shame on all of us.”
She touched on other topics like equal pay for women, a law that passed this year; improving child support collections from absentee fathers; and providing workforce training for mothers to give them a path upward.
“I don’t have faith in the system. Because I have watched it fail time, after time, after time,” Currie admitted. “But I can tell you, my next four years, I’m gonna be hell on wheels.”
Good for her. It is refreshing to hear a Republican speak realistically and acknowledge that unplanned or unwanted pregnancies are problems the state must take more seriously.
Currie’s candor may offend some, most likely including the legislative leaders whose support she’ll need for these improvements. But with the number of low-income births likely to increase due to last week’s abortion ruling, it is imperative that Mississippi help more mothers. If we don’t invest in these women, our state will only get more of what it already has.
Though it must be asked: Has it really taken the end of legal abortion for the state to get serious about this? Mississippi had plenty of children and women who needed help before now.
— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal