Fathers may soon be paying pregnancy-related costs in South Dakota

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PIERRE — A bill that would require fathers to pay for the pregnancy-related costs of their child unanimously passed out of the Senate on Wednesday and will now head to the House.

The Senate bill, backed by Gov. Kristi Noem, updates language from both parents of the child being responsible for costs related to "pregnancy and confinement" to both parents being responsible for three things:

  • Pregnancy or prenatal care for the child;

  • Labor and delivery of the child;

  • And postpartum recovery and any medical complications arising from pregnancy with the child.

S.D. Senators gather for the first day of legislative session on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.
S.D. Senators gather for the first day of legislative session on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.

Sen. David Wheeler, R-Huron, who spoke on the bill Wednesday said fathers could be responsible for paying for the mother's post-partum depression counseling, adding those were "valid, legitimate expenses."

The bill also clarifies the mother can seek litigation through small claims court for reimbursement for pregnancy related-costs.

The bill will not impact custodial rights, Wheeler explained after Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, asked if it would create a custodial financial relationship.

More:New GOP bill would define 'life of mother' in South Dakota's abortion trigger law

When the bill was introduced, Noem said the financial responsibility of a child fell on both parents.

"The responsibility to equally pay expenses related to pregnancy should also begin at conception," Noem said in a release. "The gift of a child often comes with financial burden, and a mother should not have to take that on alone.”

Noem, as part of her pro-life agenda, has pushed for more support for families in South Dakota, especially after the overturn of Roe. V. Wade last summer, which triggered a 2015 state law that made abortion immediately illegal except when the life of the mother is at risk.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota bill could require fathers to pay pregnancy-related costs