Utah’s Governor Spencer Cox recently signed a bill that requires biological fathers to pay half of a woman’s out-of-pocket expenses associated with pregnancy. Under the law, the father would be responsible for a woman’s insurance premiums and pregnancy-related medical costs.
According to ABC News, Rep. Brady Brammer sponsored the bill after seeing an increasing amount of anti-abortion measures being moved through the state Legislature. Instead, he wanted to introduce measures that would make it less difficult to have children.
“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” said Brammer. “One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”
If there is a question of paternity, fathers wouldn’t be held liable for any expenses until paternity is established. Under the law, the father would not be held responsible for the costs associated with an abortion obtained without his consent. However, he could be obligated to pay if the abortion is necessary to prevent the mother’s death or the pregnancy was the product of rape.
Utah is not the first state to have provisions where fathers can end up responsible for prenatal expenses. Other states, such as Wisconsin and New York, have such a provision in place. However, Utah will be the first state to mandate fathers be responsible for expenses incurred pre-birth.
Critics of the bill don’t believe the bill goes far enough to address maternal healthcare needs.
Other critics argue that the new legislation won’t help the most vulnerable women. It could also make abusive situations even more dangerous for pregnant women during a time when domestic abuse is most likely to escalate. The bill also does not address the financial burdens a mother would face navigating the legal system, leaving the most vulnerable unable to pursue any kind of legal action.