A new bill in Utah is requiring biological fathers to pay financial support to a woman during her pregnancy. The measure, H.B. 113, changes the Utah Child Support Act “in relation to medical costs of pregnancy,” essentially requiring a father to pay half of an expectant mother’s pregnancy costs.
The text of H.B. 113 reads:
This bill: defines terms; and requires a biological father to pay 50% of a mother’s: insurance premiums while she is pregnant; and pregnancy-related medical costs, including the hospital birth of the child, that are not paid by another person.
Republican Governor Spencer Cox signed the piece of legislation last month. The bill also stated that if someone’s paternity status is questionable, the father will not be required to pay any support until after the paternity is confirmed. The father also won’t have to pay for an abortion if he did not consent to it unless it is done in order to save the mother’s life or if the pregnancy was conceived in rape or incest, according to H.B. 113’s language.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Brady Brammer, said in January that the bill’s provisions would be elements of an effort to increase “the responsibility for men in the bringing of life into the world.”
“Oftentimes there’s this battle between pro-life and pro-choice where some of the pro-life positions really turn into a perception that it’s just anti-abortion,” Brammer, R-Highland, told the House Judiciary Committee late January. “I kind of got sick of those things and I thought what could we do that’s really a pro-life thing? … and so that’s where this bill came from.”
Republican Senator Dan McCay said the bill is an effort “to try and bring some equity to the funding of pregnancies and share in that burden and [to recognize] the important role that the mother and the father play in the pregnancy.”
And it would make sure “that cost for the long term is a shared expense and not to be borne solely by one party,” he said in February.
In mid-February, the bill passed the state Senate without any opposition, but Democrats in the House reportedly opposed it. Some people who were against the bill were concerned that the legislation might connect women to abusive fathers, enable some partners to attempt to convince women to get pregnancy care that is cheaper or even try to get them to abort the child.
According to Planned Parenthood, abortion laws in Utah require a woman to get “face-to-face informed consent and wait 72 hours before having an abortion. Starting in 2019, a mandatory information module has been added as a new addition to the state-mandated informed consent process.” Parental consent is also mandatory for women who seek an abortion who are under 18 years of age.
YWCA Utah tracks bills in the legislature that “significantly impact Utah women, girls, and families.” The organization does not support the bill “because in our prioritization of the health and safety of women this proposal does not account for relationship dynamics that could be strained, distant, or even dangerous for pregnant women.”
The Associated Press reported that the bill has been praised by pro-life advocates who say that the bill will protect the unborn by helping pregnant women during their pregnancy.
Merrilee Boyack, chairman of the Abortion-Free Utah coalition, said she hopes this legislation will lessen the number of abortions in Utah by reducing economic pressures on new mothers.
“Anything we can do to support women in these circumstances will help them be able to give birth to their babies, feel good about that choice and feel supported along the way,” Boyack said.