Reproductive Health Law and Policy in the Deep South and Recommendations Open Access

Dawson, Ruth W. (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kh04dp93c?locale=en
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Abstract

The Southeastern region of the United States, or the "Deep South," has long been marked by conservative social policies and resulting poor health indicators. The Deep South has a troubled and complex history, riddled with racial, gender, and social inequities that are very much alive today. Women's reproductive lives represent a particularly charged sociopolitical issue, complicated by ideas about traditional gender roles, racial prejudices, and culturally religious morality.

This analysis focuses on reproductive health law and policy of three neighboring states in the heart of this region: Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This study represents a systematic review of the state codes via the LexisNexis legal database. The goal of this thesis is to fill the dearth of practical guides to the legal situation in these states. Those that exist rarely cite to codified law, and often misinterpret the law. This project also looks into policies of state agencies, such as health departments, and how their policies may impact reproductive health. The analysis includes cultural and historical background, to help advocates contextualize the origins of these restrictive policies.

The purpose of this thesis is to increase access to reproductive health and reproductive health services in these three states in the Deep South, through reducing barriers and promoting positive reproductive health policies. The hope is that organizations, health departments, or other advocates will use this guide to increase access to reproductive and sexual health services in these states.

Due to entrenched legislative and organizational adversaries, it is unrealistic to expect the strong tide against reproductive rights to reverse in any major way. Instead, reproductive justice advocates can redirect this negative attention to common goals of health - contraception, safe motherhood, prevention of abortion, etc., and leverage existing community structures to do so. Advocates can utilize a multipronged strategy: engage in careful legislative advocacy, generate a community base of first responders, focus on moderate policy goals, and implement practical health interventions under existing law.

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………..……………1 Problem Statement…………………………………………………………………….…..3 Purpose Statement…………………………………………………………………………..5 Definition of Terms……………………………………………………………………..……7 Methodology……………………………………………………………………..………….……9 Results……………………………………………………………………..……………………..11 Alabama………………………………………………………………..…………...11

Louisiana ……………………………………………………………………..……16

Mississippi………………………………………………………………………….22 Recommendations and Conclusion…………………………………………………28

Tables: Catalog of Reproductive Health Laws………………………………..32

Alabama……………………………………………………………………..……..32 Louisiana……………………………………………………………………..……….34 Mississippi…………………………………………………………………………….36

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