A new Utah law will require biological fathers to pay half of any out-of-pocket pregnancy costs.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, was meant to address some of the issues related to financial obligations during pregnancy, which Brammer said have fallen heavily on women in the past.
Financial responsibility will now fall equally on both parents. Fathers of an unborn child will now be required to pay 50% of the costs, provided that paternity is not disputed. If paternity is disputed, responsibility to pay the out-of-pocket costs will be held off until a paternity test can be administered.
Lawmakers hope this initiative will decrease the monetary burden of pregnancy on women across the state. The bill received widespread support in the GOP-controlled Utah legislature, many of whom are pro-life.
“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer said. “One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”
BYU family science professor Jocelyn Wikle expressed happiness that the state of Utah was working on solutions for expectant mothers.
“There is strong research evidence demonstrating that stress experienced during pregnancy has long-term implications for a mother and child,” Wikle said. “Research also shows that unmarried mothers receiving financial help from fathers during pregnancy are more likely to seek prenatal care, which has important implications for health and wellbeing of mothers and new babies.”
The bill also addresses the scenario in which a biological mother receives an abortion without the consent of the biological father. If an abortion is carried out without the consent of the father, he will no longer have any financial obligations to the biological mother. This would not be the case in situations of a medical emergency.
Some pro-choice groups are skeptical about the bill, The Associated Press reports. Domestic abuse can escalate during pregnancy, and some fear that placing another financial stressor during this time may result in an increase in abuse cases at home.
Despite reservations from some pro-choice groups, the bill was still signed into law by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox last month and will go into effect on May 5.