Mississippi House passes ‘Pregnancy Resource’ tax credits

Published 7:37 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Mississippi House passed a bill Tuesday to expand tax credits for women and families after a law that banned most abortions went into effect last year.

The legislation, called the “Pregnancy Resource Act, passed in a bipartisan 104-8 vote. It is a priority for House Speaker Phillip Gunn, a Republican in his final year in office. The bill will now head to the state senate for further consideration.

The proposal would create a childcare expense tax credit for individuals or married couples earning $50,000 or less. It would mirror a federal credit that exists to help parents pay for childcare.

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Additionally, the bill would double the expense tax credit for families seeking to adopt from a maximum of $5,000 to $10,000. It would also expand tax credits individuals and businesses can receive for donating to charities that assist women and children, foster care organizations and so-called pregnancy resource centers.

Pregnancy resource centers have aimed to provide support to pregnant women and discourage them from seeking abortions. The facilities have been expanding in every state with support from wealthy conservative donors, powerful state lawmakers and religious institutions. They’ve also received tens of millions of tax dollars funneled to them by conservative state leaders.

Several days after the Supreme Court, based on a Mississippi case, overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, a more restrictive state abortion law took effect. The law was passed in 2007 to take effect if the Supreme Court precedent was overruled. It says abortion is legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers introduced an amendment to Gunn’s bill that would have let mothers keep Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth, up from the current two months. The amendment was tabled without a debate.

For the second year in a row, Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bill that would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers. It failed in the House last year amid opposition from Gunn but is still alive this year in his chamber.