Biological fathers in Utah will now be legally required to pay half of a woman’s out-of-pocket pregnancy costs. The bill’s sponsor presented the measure as an effort to reduce the burden of pregnancy on women and increase responsibility for men.
According to the state’s Planned Parenthood Association and Republican Rep. Brady Brammer, Utah appears to be the first state to mandate prenatal child support.
Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, recently signed the bill which received widespread support in the GOP-controlled Legislature. The bill will apply to a pregnant woman’s health insurance premiums and any other pregnancy-related medical costs, said Brammer.
In situations where the paternity of the child is disputed, fathers won’t be required to pay until paternity has been established.
In Utah, mothers can already seek financial support related to birth expenses through the courts, although very few women actually do. Liesa Stockdale, director of the state’s Office of Recovery Services said that mothers will now have the option to seek pregnancy-related payments via the legal system, but it isn’t yet clear how often they will pursue it.
Although the new law is unique to the state, some critics believe that it still won’t do enough to adequately address maternal healthcare needs. It has been argued that the new legislation won’t help the most vulnerable pregnant women and could make abusive relationships even more dangerous.
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Katrina Barker said that she supports giving women more financial support, but there are better ways to help them such as expanding Medicaid, providing better access to contraception and offering paid parental leave.
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