By Jonah MeKeown
A new law in Utah will require fathers to pay for half of the mother’s cost of pregnancy, making Utah the first state to mandate prenatal child support from the father.
HB 113, sponsored by Rep. Brady Brammer, stipulates that the baby’s biological father must pay half of the mother’s insurance premiums while she is pregnant, as well as pregnancy-related medical costs, including the hospital birth of the child.
The father would only be required to pay those expenses after his paternity is confirmed, the law stipulates.
“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer, the bill’s sponsor, told the AP.
“One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”
Under the law, if the mother obtains an abortion without the father’s consent, the father is not required to help pay for the abortion, unless the abortion was done to preserve the life of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill into law in February.
Jean Hill, director of the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, told CNA that the diocese supported the final version of the bill.
“In our view, the law is a positive pro-life measure to help women who want to keep their baby but feel overwhelmed by the costs,” Hill told CNA.
She said her office initially had concerns— which some lawmakers also had raised— that the law could unintentionally tie mothers financially to abusive partners.
The final law includes a provision that mothers are not legally required to seek financial help from the father if they do not want to. In addition, the Office of Recovery Services, which collects child support payments in the state, will serve as an intermediary between a mother and her potentially abusive partner.
“A woman may choose whether to seek payments and, if she does choose to pursue this option, reinforce the fiscal responsibility a father should accept for creating life,” Hill said.
Planned Parenthood has criticized the law, touting abortion as a more cost-effective solution.
“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katrina Barker told the AP, adding that she does not believe the legislation will lead to fewer women having abortions, because the costs of pregnancy are typically small compared with the costs of raising a child.
Utah has a 72 hour waiting period for abortions, as well as a “trigger law” on the books which would ban abortion in the state if the Supreme court were to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.
On March 23, Cox signed a bill into law to make pornography filters mandatory and switched on by default on cell phones sold in the state. The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, but only if five other states pass similar laws.
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)