September 2021. Pro-Life Weekly, a Catholic television program featuring anti-abortion activists, has a special guest. Lynn Fitch, the Mississippi Attorney General, he looked as usual: blow-dried blonde dyed hair, tasteful jewelry, pale blue monochromatic suit. She this time she was there to celebrate.
The Supreme Court of the United States had just announced the date on which the challenge by the state of Mississippi roe vyes Wadethe 1973 ruling that, for the nearly 50 years since, has served as a national guarantee for access to abortion.
For this they made use of the case Dobbs vs. the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which focuses on a Mississippi law that prohibitedwent abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest.
Under Fitch’s direction, the state of mississippi asked the Supreme Court to uphold the law and strike down the landmark Roe v.yes Wade in the process.
A ruling is expected this month.
A leaked draft suggests the Mississippi ban is likely to stand, paving the way for other states to ban abortion as well.
Fitch – who has declined to be interviewed – has argued that overturning Roe v. Wade would “change the game” and “uplift” women by removing what she described as a false choice between family and career.“Fifty years ago if you were a professional woman they wanted you to make a decision (between continuing to be a professional or a mother). Now you don’t have to,” she said in Pro-Life Weekly. “You have a choice in life to really achieve your dreams, your goals and also have those beautiful children.” If she wins the case and Roe v. Wade falls, a few 40 million women may lose access to abortionwarn defenders of the right to decide.
could also convert to Fitch, a working single mother of three, into a Republican superstar and model of his own argument: modern women do not need abortion to have it all.
From state treasurer to attorney general
Abortion was not always a major issue in Fitch’s political career. When he first assumed public office, as Mississippi State Treasurer in 2011pushed for legislation to ensure that men and women received equal pay.
His convictions were shaped by his upbringing and, especially, by her experiences as a single mothersays Hayes Dent, a longtime friend and colleague who ran his first political campaign.
When Dent met Fitch, she had just been appointed executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, a state agency, by then-Governor Haley Barbour. Dent was immediately impressed.
“After being around every major political figure in Mississippi for 40 years, I knew he was going to run for office,” Dent said. “And when take the starting shothe will be successful”.
It wasn’t until after a couple of years that she did, when she launched herself into the campaign to be state treasurer.
When she started that first campaign, in 2011, “she wasn’t the favorite,” said Austin Barbour, a Republican national strategist (no relation to former Gov. Barbour).
Dent, who had been following Fitch, approached her and asked her to join his campaign.
“I told:‘CI think you can win this race’”he remembered.
She accepted and the two carried out a ambitious campaign. They would drive around the state all day making lots of stops at different places and, at the same time, in the hours that were free, they would make calls to raise funds.
“His attitude was ‘what’s our job,’” Dent said. “And I was like, ‘We have to go to the tobacco spitting festival.’ And he did great! He didn’t spit tobacco, but he was cool.”
The only reason whyFitch rejectsba a campaign event was for his children. He left early if he had to attend a basketball game or a parent-teacher talk.
The house of the Ku Klux Klan leader
She was a natural activist, but the fundraiser was delayed, so dent askedhe dad by Fitch a personal donation.
Bill Fitch, the now attorney general’s father, still lived in Holly Springs, the small country town near the northern tip of the state where Lynn spent most of her childhood.
His father had inherited land on the historic Galena Plantation and used the sprawling 8,000-acre (over 3,200-hectare) property to restore the family farm and made it a premier quail hunting destination. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Mississippi Governors Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant became frequent guests.
Those staying at Fitch Farms can choose to stay at the former home of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a Confederate general and the first great wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Fitch purchased the property and transported it to his hunting compound.
Lynn Fitch has referred on several occasions in local media to the “special” memories of her childhood on her father’s farm, where she rode horses and hunted quail.
As a teenager, she was the “typical popular kid,” Dent said. “Leader, cheerleader, athletica, Very complete“said.
She went to the University of Mississippi, joined a sorority and He graduated in business administration and then in law.
When Hayes Dent drove to Fitch’s father’s farm to persuade him to make a donation to the campaign, he told him: “yesi me I go from towhatI went with a big check, she will gain”.
She won and did it again four years later, securing a second term as state treasurer.
In this role, he focused on state debt, expanded access to financial education in the state, and advocated for equal pay laws (Mississippi remains the only state that does not guarantee equal pay for equal work between men and women.)
I support Trump
In that time, he developed his knack for connecting with voters, drawing on both his Holly Springs upbringing and an apparent Ease of being visible to the public.
In interviews and campaign videos, Fitch comes naturally balanced Y prepared. She makes easy eye contact, speaks slow and relaxed, often thanking God and his family for the opportunity to serve his state.
“Rural roots are important to voters in this state,” said Barbour, the Republican strategist. “Y She is very endearing, it just is.”
Lynn Fitch also bolstered her conservative credentials with her endorsement of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Precisely, heled the Mississippi Women for Trump coalition in 2016 and, when Trump was in Jackson for a campaign rally, she sat in the front row.
Two years later, Fitch announced that he would run for by Fprosecutor ggeneral of mississippia position that had never been held by a woman.
achieved the victory in November 2019 with almost 60% of votes, with the promise of defending “conservative values and principles”.
As a devout Republican in a solidly Republican state, Fitch’s position on abortion was taken for granted, even if she didn’t advocate it outright.
Across the country, about 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to data from the Pew Research Center. But among Republicans Mississippi, almost 70% believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
The Mississippi state legislature passed an abortion ban in 2018, two years before Fitch took office as attorney general. The law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks, was immediately challenged in court on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s last abortion clinic.
A federal district court struck down the ban, saying it was unconstitutional. In 2019, a higher court confirmed it.
But in June 2020, five months after taking office, the attorney general Fitch asked the US Supreme Court to review the 15-week ban. The court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, accepted and heard the case in December last year.
Now, Lynn Fitch is nationally known as the attorney expected to end Roe v. Wade.
“Empowerment” of women
At times, Fitch has said that his state is simply making an argument for the rule of law: asking the Supreme Court to hand over the formulation of abortion policies to the states. But she also says quite often that this case is about empowering women.
roe vyes Wade, she said, made women believe they had to choose: family or career, not both.
“The court in Roe pitted women against their children and women against women,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
The choice is misleading and paternalistic, Fitch argued. She is a position seemingly drawn from her own life: a single mother who has risen to the highest levels in state government while remaining devoted to her children and grandchildren.
“Being a single mother has dominated her thought process and life experience”Dent said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why he feels so strongly about this.”
In a world without Roe vs. Wade, Fitch said during a television interview last year, “babies will be saved” and mothers “will have a chance to really turn their lives around. They have all these new and different opportunities that they didn’t have 50 years ago.”
Pro-choice activists have accusedFitch of using feminist language to cover up inherently anti-feminist politics.
Their arguments rest “largely on false claims that they are ’empowering women,'” said Dina Montemarano, director of research for NARAL Pro-Choice America. This tactic, Montemarano said, is often used by anti-abortion activists to assert control over women’s bodies and violate their fundamental freedoms.
In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Fitch wrote of “widespread advances in policy (that) now promote women being able to pursue both a professional career and a family.”
In a counterargument filed with the Supreme Court, 154 economists warned in a letter that this optimism was “premature and false”.
“The celebration of parental leave policies in Mississippi is particularly bizarre, as the United States is one of only two countries without a national paid maternity leave policy,” the economists wrote.
Specific, mississippihas no state laws requiring paid family leave. It is the poorest state in the nation and has the highest rates of infant mortality and child poverty.
But if Roe is repealed, Fitch will return to Mississippi as a conservative hero.
“I’m 99% sure he will run for attorney general again,” Dent said. “And based on how the last three years have gone, it’s hard for me to imagine that he will have any Republican opponents this time around.”
There are also rumors that one day she might run for governor. She has not yet commented on this speculation.
If she were to win, Fitch would be the first female governor in Mississippi history.
It may interest you:
* Iowa Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not protected by the state constitution
* Albany must take action to break down barriers to abortion
* Oklahoma governor signs new law banning abortion from fertilization
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