Mississippi governor tells teens to avoid early parenthood

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is telling teenage girls that having babies while they’re young could lead to a lifetime of dependency on Medicaid and food stamps.

He’s also telling young men they should be ashamed of ever being called a “baby daddy.”

The Republican governor spoke Thursday at a teenage pregnancy prevention program that his office sponsored at the Jackson Convention Complex. Bryant urged teens to delay parenthood until they’re grown.

During a separate conference Thursday at the convention complex, educators and health professionals discussed “abstinence-plus” classes, which can offer information about contraception.

Kameisha Smith, a 17-year-old from Holmes County, says young people need to be fully informed about birth control. She says 6th graders have become pregnant in her community.

Mississippi has the nation’s highest teen birth rate.