Mississippi's Unwed Mothers

In Jackson, Miss., they are calling it a crisis: 45 percent of all babies born statewide are being raised by single mothers, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

One single mother told a reporter, "Honestly?...There is nothing else to do" but have babies.

Easter Hargrave is 41 years old with eight children and two grandchildren. Her burden is the state's burden. "When you don't have the support of a man there, then you go to the welfare system to help you balance that off, to help you raise your children," she says.

The welfare program is creating a dependency that is dehumanizing.

Father John Jenkins is a retired Episcopal priest who runs a family foundation for the poor in Jackson's north end. Despite a job training program for single mothers and an ad campaign pushing abstinence, Father Jenkins admits he is short on resources and desperate for new ideas. He says, "It's definitely a crisis, and the number keeps growing."

It's a crisis that now has state lawmakers on the verge of making history. Mississippi could soon become the first state in the country to pay counties if they can lower the number of babies born to unwed mothers, without increasing the number of abortions.

The state senate passed the bill 52-0.

"It's a problem that is here. We can either choose to ignore, or we can attempt to find new and creative ways to address the problem," explains state Sen. Alan Nunnelee. He says money talks.

Under the bill, the five counties with the biggest decrease in out-of-wedlock births would receive several thousand dollars in state funding for youth programs or recreational facilities.

"I hope the money incentives will at least give a wake-up call to some of the mayors to say, 'This is our problem'," says Father Jenkins.

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