Utah Just Became the First State to Require Dads to Pay Prenatal Child Support

Under the new law, fathers whose paternity has been confirmed will have to pay half of the mother's pregnancy costs. But how much does it actually help expectant mothers?

On March 16, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox amended the state's Child Support Act by signing a new law that requires biological fathers to pay half of all pregnancy costs the birth mother incurs. Under this law, which will go into effect in May, fathers will be responsible for a mother's insurance premiums, any pregnancy-related healthcare expenses, and the costs associated with delivery.

Ultimately, this law will place a certain level of responsibility and accountability on a male partner's shoulders, which matters. Prenatal care and the costs associated with delivery can be astronomical, and this law gives mothers some level of legal protection where paying for their pregnancies is concerned.

But not everyone sees this as an ideal solution for all mothers—especially because financial roadblocks aren't the only concerns expectant mothers may face.

An image of a map of Utah on a colorful background.
Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Rep. Lowry Snow, for example, expressed concern for the "daunting" process pregnant people would have to undergo in order to collect payment—this law only stands in cases where paternity can be proven, which presents one process that needs to be completed before the legal proceedings begin.

"My heart goes out to these women who find themselves in this situation, who don't have that support and help and have the expenses and maybe don't have the ability to cover it and the thoughts of actually having to sue someone to collect it are daunting," Rep. Snow said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "However, having said that, I think this is a really important step in the right direction."

According to The New York Times, the bill was sponsored by State Representative Brady Brammer and State Senator Daniel McCay for the purpose of increasing biological fathers' responsibilities in pregnancies. According to Brammer, this law is meant to be seen as a pro-life measure.

"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 told the House Judiciary Committee, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "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."

Under this law, biological fathers will not be responsible for the costs of an abortion should the mother choose to have one—unless her life is in danger due to the pregnancy, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

"This was not necessarily intended to be about abortion," Brammer said, according to The New York Times. "It was the idea that abortion is happening because people are put in a really difficult situation."

But some worry that this law is addressing the wrong issue.

"While we appreciate that this bill highlights how expensive it is to be pregnant and that many women struggle to cover the costs of their health care, we feel there are better ways to support pregnant people and families," said Karrie Galloway, the president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. "Expanded Medicaid, better insurance coverage, equitable access to reproductive health care, and paid family leave are just a few ways policymakers could do much more."

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