(Southaven, MS) More babies are born to teen mothers in Mississippi than anywhere else in the country.
Drastic figures like that have state lawmakers taking drastic measures.
Right now Mississippi hospitals are collecting blood from babies born to every mother who conceived before she turned 17 and doesn’t put a father’s name on the birth certificate.
Lorine Cady works with teen mothers in crisis and says this is a way to prevent mothers from committing welfare fraud.
If there is no known father, teen mothers typically get assistance from the state.
“The working people can no longer afford to keep up other families that aren’t taking responsibilities for their actions,” said Cady who is executive director of House of Grace.
Being able to identify the father could then require him to pay up with child support, and take the burden off tax payers.
Lawmakers say the blood is also evidence against possible statutory rapists.
Once the blood is collected, the hospitals will send it to the state where they will test it to see how old the father was when he got the teen pregnant.
The state says it will cost tax payers about $1,000 a pop.
“Times are tough and it’s and ain’t too many people got a thousand dollars. And why pay when you can go on Jerry Springer and get it for free,” said Anita Kyles.
Other say this violates a baby and mother’s privacy.
“It should be a private thing. It shouldn’t be distributed. I don’t think they should do that,” said a Mississippi resident whose name is Georgia.
Mississippi is the first state in the country to adopt a law like this.