Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel, persuaded the House committee to approve an amendment that says the state would provide free education and medical services to any child born in the state, until age 19.
Scott said her proposal could extend beyond the public schools and Medicaid already offered. She said it could make a significant difference for a poor woman who's trying to decide whether to have an abortion.
"Anyone who wants to take this language out of this bill is not for life," Scott said.
This would be a spectacular policy. And I agree with Representative Scott--a clause like this is make-or-break for being truly "pro-life" (as opposed to "pro-birth").
But here's the delicious irony. This clause would have never passed by itself. This sort of universal education and healthcare commitment is definitely not up the GOP's alley, neither in Mississippi nor anywhere else. But Scott convinced them that it kind of went part and parcel with a true pro-life position (and again, she's dead right), so they threw it in.
Now, the next step in the "banning abortion" theater game (assuming the bill gets passed by the full legislature) is where a federal Court immediately enjoins its enforcement. This isn't even a close call--even if the Court thought that abortion should be criminalized, it has to obey higher Court precedent (which is really clear in this case). But, Courts try, whenever possible, to only strike down the unconstitutional aspects of a bill. If they can "sever" the unconstitutional parts from the constitutional parts, they will. The "ban abortion" clause and the "free education and healthcare" clause are clearly separable, that is, you can enforce one without enforcing the other. So the latter will likely be preserved even if the former goes down in flames.
The upshot is that Mississippi's abortion ban will immediately be struck down, but the children's welfare statute will remain on the books, fully enforcable. Which puts MS politicians in the lovely position of either acceding to a massive new liberal program, or having to repeal healthcare for poor children (can you see the ads?).
Sometimes, the straightest path...
(TMVer Justin Gardner with the heads up)