Mississippians are “all worse off” a year after Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office succeeded in convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn federal protections for abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, her opponent said in a statement ahead of the anniversary.
“It’s no secret that there has been an all-out attack on women’s rights for quite some time,” Democratic candidate for Mississippi attorney general Greta Kemp Martin said in a statement on Friday, June 23. “But it was just a year ago when my opponent lit the fuse that completely obliterated a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs case on June 24, 2022, overturned Roe v. Wade, which for 49 years prohibited states from enacting broad abortion bans. Soon after the Dobbs ruling, however, Mississippi’s near-total abortion bans took effect, closing the state’s only abortion clinic. With that decision, Martin said, the Republican incumbent “started a war on women’s health care freedom.”
Fitch did not start the Dobbs case, however. When Mississippi lawmakers passed a 15-week abortion ban written by the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom in 2018, then-Democratic Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood defended the ban to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the Jackson Women’s Health Organization sued to block it. After he left office in 2020, Fitch took over the case and appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The incumbent celebrated the anniversary of the Dobbs decision by speaking at the National Celebrate Life Day event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 24.
“And so the reign of Roe v. Wade is over,” Fitch said on Saturday. “But now that it’s here, it’s our time to act. We must rise up to the occasion and act. Because until we can give women—especially the most vulnerable of women—all that they need so their children can thrive; until we can make the changes in our laws that are just as compassionate as our hearts; and until we can change the hearts and minds of all of our fellow Americans—until then, our dream of a society that fully embraces the inherent dignity of human life will not truly be the reality.”
The attorney general called on anti-abortion activists to push policies that “support women when they are pregnant and nurturing a young family”; to “help them to be upskilled and educated and provide resources to them”; to “make quality, affordable, accessible child care (available) in our states”; to “promote workplace flexibilities … so that women can be the mothers they want to be and at the same time pursue their professional dreams”; to “support child support enforcement and make the fathers responsible equally for their children”; and to “fix the broken foster care and adoption systems.”
“We have to get those beautiful children into loving, thriving homes as quickly as possible to be their forever homes. … This is the job the Supreme Court gave us one year ago today,” Fitch declared.
On the steps of the Mississippi Capitol Building in Jackson on June 23, though, Martin criticized Fitch for spending years focused on outlawing abortion as dozens of hospitals struggle to stay open and continue providing services. Since the Dobbs decision, several hospitals have closed maternity wards and stopped delivering babies; the Mississippi Delta recently lost the region’s only neonatal intensive care unit.
“Mississippi is in a health care crisis—the last thing our communities need is a dangerous decision that levies more harmful restrictions or that limits our health care freedoms,” Martin said.
Planned Parenthood Southeast Mississippi State Director Tyler Harden joined Martin at the press conference.
“Mississippians deserve lawmakers who care about their health,” Harden said. “The hypocrisy of anti-abortion lawmakers celebrating the Dobbs decision but ignoring the closure of rural hospitals is not lost amongst constituents. Maternal and infant mortality rates continue to skyrocket, especially amongst Black families. This November, Mississippians have the opportunity to hold them accountable at voting precincts across the state.”
The primary elections for all statewide and legislative offices are Aug. 8, 2023, with the general election following on Nov. 7, 2023. The deadline to register to vote in the August primaries is July 10, 2023.