Governor Tate Reeves has signed legislation authorizing a $3.5 million tax credit for individuals and businesses that donate to nonprofit pregnancy resource centers in the state. These centers are generally faith-based and often presented as offering alternatives to abortion services.
The new law comes as Mississippi takes center stage in the next Supreme Court decision that could determine the future of abortion access in the United States. The ruling centers on a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law provides exceptions for medical emergencies or “serious fetal abnormalities.”
Abortion has been legal in the United States since the landmark Roe v. Wade in 1973.
In a press release, Reeves said the Pregnancy Resource Act (HB 1685) is part of a larger effort to “promote a culture of life” in Mississippi and support mothers. He said nonprofits offer free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests and advice on options.
Pregnancy Resource Centers, also known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), are often located near abortion providers and operate as non-profit organizations aimed at deterring people from abortion. consider abortion. The centers have come under heavy criticism from medical associations and choice advocates for using misleading advertisements and spreading inaccurate health information about abortion risks and contraception.
A March 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine identified 2,527 operating crisis pregnancy centers in the United States, a ratio of 3:2 per abortion facility. The South and Midwest had the highest number of CPCs, according to the study.
In Mississippi, funding for the tax credit program will come from the Choose Life program, which funds pregnancy resource centers across the state. The funding will support services at 37 centers, said Jameson Taylor, director of research and government affairs at American Family Association Action and senior researcher at Pro-Life Mississippi.
Taylor, who drafted the Pregnancy Resource Act, said the purpose of the credit “is to have more eyes, more hands, to think about these complex issues in Mississippi. Women who find themselves in situations difficult and wondering if they should have an abortion – are going to need a multi-faceted approach to this problem. This is a not-for-profit approach to dealing with these complex issues.
Mississippi is among the first states to create a tax credit for donations to these centers. Missouri also has a CPC donation tax credit program that has been around for about a decade, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization.
Meanwhile, advocates who support abortion access say resources would be better spent improving access to a range of medical services.
“There are people who never get prenatal care and just show up to the hospital and give birth. The blame is on the individual, not the system,” said Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of Mississippi Reproductive Freedom. fund. “How to avoid unwanted pregnancies without access to health care.”
Maria Clark is a generalist reporter for The American South. Ideas for articles, advice, questions? Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @MariaPClark1. Register for The American South Newsletter. follow us on instagram, Facebook and Twitter.