The nine-member Mississippi Senate Study Group on Women, Children, and Families recently held its first set of meetings in an effort to better the lives of families in the Magnolia State.
Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, one of the members of the panel, said that while the state and numerous agencies are looking for ways to improve the well-being of Mississippi families, each entity has been acting individually and not as a team.
“We are doing and these agencies are doing a lot for women and infants, but unfortunately there’s not a coordinated effort. Everybody’s sort of spastic, doing their own little thing in their own little area,” Senator Blackwell stated on The Gallo Show. “Hopefully we can bring these agencies together to coordinate our efforts and have a greater impact on the lives of these individuals.”
According to Blackwell, one area in which the state can improve in helping mothers is to extend postpartum care to 12 months, a concept that hasn’t been met with resistance during the group’s hearings. The senator added that 37 other states have extended postpartum care, with 34 extending to 12 months.
“When I have hearings, I like to have both pro and con opinions. I’m having difficulty finding people who are actually against extending this postpartum care to 12 months,” Blackwell continued. “If you take a look at the illnesses that these women have — postpartum depression, preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure, diabetes — these are all diseases that they die from, that are easily preventable if they can have access to care.”
Senator Nicole Akins Boyd, R-Oxford, who chairs the panel, argued that while people get caught up in the numbers showing Mississippi leading the nation in maternal mortality, what gets lost in translation is that there is a human being behind each statistic. Her goal is to provide care for mothers, not to curb statistics, although those two will work hand-in-hand.
“It occurred to me that we talk about these numbers that we have the highest maternal mortality rate. I think we need to pause here for a second. We’re talking about a child’s mother. We’re talking about not giving that care that will help that mother stay alive and be able to parent that child,” Boyd said. “This is not a political issue. This is not a Democrat issue. This is not a Republican issue. This is about life. This is about mothers being able to raise these children.”
The Senate study Group on Women, Children, and Families is set to meet again on October 25 and 26 as the 2023 legislative session is right around the corner.
Watch the full interview with Senators Boyd and Blackwell below.