The bill’s sponsors say Utah will be the first in the U.S. to declare fathers have a legal duty to pay for prenatal support
A new law in Utah requires biological fathers to be legally obligated to pay for half of their partner’s pregnancy costs. The state’s Planned Parenthood and the bill’s sponsor claim Utah is the first state to mandate paternal prenatal child support, NBC News reports. In some states, such as Wisconsin and New York, there is a pre-birth expense provision that results in fathers being financially responsible for it.
The measure’s sponsor hopes that it will lessen the burden on mothers while increasing responsibility on the part of fathers.
The measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Brady Brammer, said he chose to sponsor the measure because he had grown tired of anti-abortion efforts and wanted to propose legislation that helps women to reach a full-term pregnancy.
“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer said. “One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”
Brammer announced the legislation would apply to the health insurance premiums of a pregnant woman and any pregnancy-related healthcare expenditures.
It will be the dad’s obligation to pay once paternity is confirmed if the parentage of the child is challenged. The father also would not be financially responsible for any costs associated with an abortion received without his consent — unless it was necessary to prevent maternal death or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.
The NBC News report goes on to say that, in Utah, mothers currently have the opportunity to pursue paternal aid related to birth expenses through the courts but few do, said Liesa Stockdale, director of the state’s Office of Recovery Services, which usually collects child support. She claimed moms will now have the chance to also pursue pregnancy-related payments through the legal system, but it’s uncertain how often mothers will choose it.
“I don’t know how often it will be used,” Stockdale said. “That’s yet to be seen how often parents will choose to pursue these costs. But certainly if they do, we’re here to collect.”
Some think the new legislation will prompt some men to go from pro-life to pro-choice.
“Watch the men of Utah go from pro life to pro choice real quick …is child support gonna be half the actual cost to raise the child now too?” one person posted on Twitter. “And if they don’t pay what’s the consequences? I’m still owed over 7k for my child that’s an adult now and he only had to pay 160 a mo.”
Katrina Barker, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, told NBC News she advocates providing women more financial assistance, but that there are better paths for women to be helped such as extending Medicaid, widening access to contraception, and offering paid parental leave.
“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Barker said.
Putting aside the cost of higher education, the average cost of raising a child is $233,610 for middle-income families, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A woman can pay free or up to $1,000 for an abortion depending on where they live and whether they have health insurance, according to the Planned Parenthood website.