Gov. Tate Reeves signed The Life Equality Act (HB 1295) today, joining a growing number of states standing against eugenics and discriminatory abortions. Rep. Carolyn Crawford sponsored The Life Equality Act, with a companion bill filed by Sen. Jenifer Branning. 

“Women should not be pressured to have an abortion because their child is different: of a different ability, of a different race, of a different sex,” stated Dr. Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “Mississippi has an obligation to repudiate and reject its dark past that includes the forced sterilization of African-American women and the handicapped.”

The Life Equality Act prohibits the use of abortion as a tool of genetic manipulation, conforming Mississippi’s abortion policies to state and federal civil rights protections. Multiple states have passed similar laws in recent years, with Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri providing protection against discrimination on the basis of sex, race and genetic condition. Other states have passed laws covering at least one of these categories. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated a desire to see additional federal courts examine the constitutionality of such protections. 

A May 2019 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court (Box v. Planned Parenthood) urged states to consider that “abortion is an act rife with the potential for eugenic manipulation” and that “from the beginning, birth control and abortion were promoted as means of effectuating eugenics.” In addition, the December 2019 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion law cautions that the “history of abortion advocacy” is infected with the “taint of racism” because abortion “has proved to be a disturbingly effective tool for implementing the discriminatory preferences that undergird eugenics.”

“The Life Equality Act sends a clear message that abortion should not be used to discriminate against women and children, regardless of race, sex or genetic condition,” stated Dr. Taylor. “Mississippi lawmakers are taking a cue from both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 5th Circuit, which have indicated it is time for states to consider how abortion can easily become a deadly tool of discrimination.”

The Box decision observed that the abortion rate for babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero is 67 percent in the United States and that the abortion rate “among black women is nearly 3.5 times the ratio for white women.” Likewise, a recent study from the Institute for Family Studies finds that U.S. sex ratios at birth suggest a growing trend of sex-selective abortions aimed at baby girls.