Plunkett: Opponents of Herring confirmation remain voluntarily blind to decades of dedication to public health.

By MississippI PEP Staff | March 31st, 2013 at 8:55 pm

BY: MississippI PEP Staff /

The MS PEP Staff consists of a number of volunteers across the state dedicated to sharing news and commentary important to conservatives.

Filed Under: Abortion, Contributor, Ethics, health, Keith Plunkett, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, MS State Government, Opinion, Personhood, Politics, Public Safety, Public Service

BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

When Terri Herring asked me to assist her in dealing with communication issues surrounding her upcoming confirmation hearing as a nominee to the Mississippi Board of Health, I wondered why a person with so much experience in dealing with the public would need my help. Little did I know how low the depths of fierce ideology can go to drive some to full out character assassination.

Terri has been an advocate for women’s health issues at the state capitol, and throughout Mississippi and the nation for decades. As an advocate for health, Terri has also worked to reduce abortions, and that is something that invites a cultish type of blind hatred.

You would think that everyone would believe reducing abortions would be a good thing. I know of no one that will stand up and proudly announce that there aren’t enough abortions taking place. But, it hardly matters to those who translate any health safety regulations of abortion, or any attempts to help impoverished and young mothers with prenatal education as a slight against the litmus test.

Those who dare look past the hype to find the reality of the situation can expect the knives. However, it doesn’t change the reality. The reality is Terri Herring is very qualified to serve in this post.

Those who oppose Terri have brought out every possible insult and slight to keep others from seeing reality. They say “she lacks proper education”, “she is a political appointment”,  “she is the governor’s way of implementing Personhood via the Board of Health”, “she will vote to close abortion clinics”, “she doesn’t have a medical background”. None of these snipes rely on fact, nor do they promote a true understanding of the role of the Board of Health.

Is there anyone on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee who will vote on Terri’s confirmation that wants to tell Mississippi mothers who stay home and raise children that they are “too uneducated” to participate in a discussion about health? Too uneducated to be involved? Do so at your own risk. Most have an encyclopedic knowledge of ailments that would rival anyone serving on that committee.

As to the ridiculous Personhood claim, there is absolutely no way it can be implemented via one woman’s vote on the eleven-person Board of Health. The last time I checked the Board of Health didn’t have authority over constitutional amendments or ballot initiatives.

Terri has been nominated to fill one of the non-physician positions on the board, so the reference to a medical background is debunked. Two of former Governor Barbour’s appointments on the board were reappointed in 2011 with no outcry of their lack of medical background; one is a CPA, the other is an executive for an electric power association.

Terri has worked for 27 years as a volunteer advocate for women’s health issues, her work has directly led to the preservation and enrichment of Mississippi lives, both of children and mothers. Her focus on fetal mortality has a direct affect on bringing healthy children into the world, children that may one day do great things that benefit all of us. She has had a positive affect on young women, convincing them of the importance of caring for their bodies and their futures.

Terri gives out $200,000 a year to pregnancy resource centers across Mississippi. She puts her money where her mouth is. She is a passionate advocate who has paid out of pocket for decades to continue doing what she does, and has never been paid a dime to show up day after day, year after year. She cares deeply for the plight of mothers and children everywhere.

The abortion litmus test is a way political opponents can fight AGAINST someone while claiming to fight FOR something. It’s little more than an excuse. Opponents of Terri’s nomination prove by their cherry picking and shell game communication that they care only for a single issue, while Terri’s life has been about promoting and implementing an array of health issues.

There are those that will oppose her because of her work on abortion issues. But, lets be clear. That is the ONLY reason they will be able to give if they oppose her. It is they, not she, who are one-issue advocates. It is they, not she, who must resort to playing politics. Are these opponents now saying that any nominee must be for abortion in order to serve? If so, they slight millions of Mississippians in the process.

Terri Herring is absolutely qualified to serve on the state Board of Health based on the full body of her decades of work on public health issues. In fact, she is more qualified than most who now attempt to pass judgement.

Senate committee members should look beyond the hype before making that call.

About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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  • I know this is a dead horse considering the recent turn of events, but there is another statement made in this blog that I have to address: I don’t think any of the critics of Ms. Herrings nomination to the health board thought that she would be granted the power to personally add constitutional amendments. Our point was that somebody who worked so fervently to pass that extreme piece of legislation might use her power on the board of health to further the extreme personhood agenda which was rejected by MS votes(and everywhere else where the people have had a chance to vote on it). I don’t think we are the ones being “voluntarily blind” here.

  • It’s strange that you would be so outraged that Ms.Herrings career as a political activist with extreme views(“personhood” amendment) would make people reluctant to have her serving on the state health board and not mention once Dr. Carl Reddix, a Harvard trained OB/GYN whose nomination was rejected because of his tenuous connection to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I’m curious, did you defend Dr. Reddix from these, very similar, ideological attacks? Certainly Dr. Reddix was AT LEAST as qualified as Ms. Herring.

    Believe it or not, we pro-choice activists in Mississippi(and elsewhere) seek to reduce abortions too. The difference is that we do it through scientifically proven methods like access to education,contraceptives, and yes, access to a safe abortion i as is each woman’s constitutional right.

    Ms. Herrings “work” in this state though probably well intended has probably increased the unplanned pregnancies in this state through abstinence only education (https://www.medify.com/blog/the-evidence-based-research-on-abstinence-only-education/), the misinformation that “pregnancy crisis” centers are known to spread (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770790). Also the WHO has demonstrated that areas in which abortions are legal actually have lower rates of the procedure (http://jwwartick.com/2012/03/07/lower-legal-abortion/)

  • Bob

    For godsakes! One of the guys on the board appointed by Barbour is from an electric power association!? And people are worried about her qualifications? sounds like to me she’ll be an upgrade.

  • EduKate

    It never ceases to amaze me how no matter how many times you explain away some peoples false claims, they will still resort back to them anyway. Most of the comments here obviously didn’t even read the article above. Reading comprehension is obviously a lost skill.

  • ConWatch

    Boy cockroaches sure go to acting crazy and scattering when you hit ’em with sunlight don’t they?

  • You may as well appoint the fox to guard the henhouse. Insulting her opponents doesn’t change what she is–and it says more about you than it does us.

  • Stacey Spiehler

    I’m certain you think she’s qualified because of her pro-life work (and because you’re representing her), but this is the Board of Public Health we’re talking about. Not the Board of Women’s Reproductive Choices. She is not qualified to make decisions about the general health and welfare of Mississippians because she knows a lot about abortion issues. I’ve yet to find one person who can name her medical qualifications at all.

  • Mississippi has one of the lowest abortion rates in the nation. I’m sure Ms. Herring would love to take credit for that, but it’s probably because most Mississippi women can’t afford to have an abortion. That’s what these laws do, keep the poorest from having any choice at all and therefore kicking them even further into poverty, but I digress. Does Ms. Herring have any other experience in providing health care, or is bullying and fighting that 5%, or 1 in 20 pregnant women, the extent of her knowledge of what Mississippi needs? It’s certainly not the abstinence only education she pushes as Mississippi also has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates and infant mortality rates in the country and in the world. How about diabetes? That’s also a major life killer and health problem for Mississippi?

  • Stacey

    This is so obviously slanted! “Women’s Health issues” goes FAR beyond one issue of making abortion illegal. “Pregnancy Resource Centers” are religious organizations who have a well documented history of lying to women in order to trick/cajole/guilt them into carrying unwanted pregnancies to term.

    To say that her anti-choice work would be the only reason someone oppose her is laughable. What about the issue that was raised of her not being a registered lobbyist but listing herself as a lobbyist/lobbying? Terri Herring is a one issue lobbyist who has worked for years to outlaw abortion in Mississippi. If she is qualified why has no one given any reason beyond her work around “women’s health issues” aka abortion that she IS qualified? What’s this “array” of health issues you allude to but don’t spell out?

  • fred

    Keith, Don’t you feel it appropriate to ‘disclose’ your current relationship with Terri as her spokesman as you post not only your comments, but also those that you have rounded up from others as endorsements?

    • ConWatch

      Fred, It may be too much to ask you to read an entire article, but one would expect you to be able to get through at least the first sentence.

  • Having known Terri for the last nine years and working closely with her, I can attest to her sincere and compassionate heart for the welfare of women and the unborn. I have witnessed firsthand her struggle at times against “the calling on her life” to do the work she has done over the last 20 years courageously, selflessly, without pay, lobbying for bills to protect all human life. All the work she has done has been done on a volunteer basis at her own financial expense. She travels to speak to other pro-life groups and churches to further educate and share with them the process she has learned from her passion, determination and experience. She has held “Surrendering the Secret” post abortion sessions in her home to help women heal from the deep pain of regret and guilt from their abortions. She has served in leadership roles in pro-life organizations serving with a dedication second to none.

    Terri Herring will continue to be an even greater asset to the state of MS as she continues to work for a healthier MS. Having read some of the concerns and doubts about her qualifications brings to mind some of the characters we have read about in the Bible: “It seems most of the time God doesn’t call the qualified, but He qualifies & equips the Called”!! She did not ask for this nomination. It was bestowed upon her. If God brought her to it, He will take her through it.
    Confirmed or not, Terri can walk away with it being well with her soul because of always seeking Truth and doing the right thing. She only has an “audience of One”!

    Janet Thomas
    Ridgeland, MS

  • Christi Chandler

    Very well said! Thank you so much for posting the facts and not a bunch of hype surrounding a hot potato issue. Now, let’s see if the more liberal news organizations, who claim to report fair and balanced news, will even pick up a sliver of this article. I’m not holding my breath…