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State's New Law Makes Dads Pony Up Half of Pregnancy Costs

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signs legislation that may be nation's first mandated prenatal child support
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2021 11:10 AM CDT
State's New Law Makes Dads Pony Up Half of Pregnancy Costs
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference on March 18, 2021, in Salt Lake City.   (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP, Pool, File)

Biological fathers in Utah will be legally required to pay half of a woman's out-of-pocket pregnancy costs under new legislation unique to the state. The bill's sponsor has presented the measure as an effort to decrease the burden of pregnancy on women and increase responsibility for men who have children, per the AP. But some critics argue the new law won't help women who are most vulnerable and could make abusive situations even more dangerous for pregnant women. Utah appears to be the first state to mandate prenatal child support, according to the state's Planned Parenthood association and the bill's sponsor, though a few states, like Wisconsin and New York, have provisions that can result in fathers being financially responsible for pre-birth expenses. Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed the proposal, which received widespread support in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Republican Rep. Brady Brammer said he sponsored the measure because he wanted to pursue a law that would make it easier to bring life into the world. "We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion," he said. The bill would apply to a pregnant woman's health insurance premiums and any pregnancy-related medical costs. If the paternity of the child is disputed, fathers won't be required to pay until after paternity is established. Anti-abortion activists have lauded the bill, saying it will protect the lives of unborn children by supporting women through their pregnancy. Planned Parenthood rep Katrina Barker said she supports giving women more financial support but said there are better ways to help women, like expanding Medicaid, giving access to contraception, and providing paid parental leave.

(Read more Utah stories.)

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