A new state law in Utah will legally require that biological fathers pay half of women’s pregnancy expenses. Some states, such as New York and Wisconsin, have similar financial provisions for pregnancies.
The bill, signed by Gov. Spencer Cox (R) and sponsored by Rep. Brady Brammer (R), was well-received by Utah’s Republican-majority Legislature and will apply to “pregnancy-related medical costs” and health insurance premiums, Brammer told the Associated Press.
In cases where a child’s paternity is disputed, the father won’t need to pay until the paternity is established. Fathers will also not be liable to pay for abortions carried out without their consent, except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is endangered.
Brammer said the aim of the bill is to offer better assistance to expectant mothers and not necessarily to lower the state’s abortion rates, though he acknowledged that is a possible outcome.
“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.”
The chairman of Abortion-Free Utah, Merrilee Boyack, hopes by relieving some financial pressures on pregnant women, there will be a decrease in abortions.
“Anything we can do to support women in these circumstances will help them be able to give birth to their babies, feel good about that choice and feel supported along the way,” Boyack said.
However, some activists, such as Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katrina Barker, while supportive of aiding pregnant women financially, don’t believe the bill adequately addresses their other critical needs, such as access to contraception, more expansive health care and paid parental leave.
Similarly, Barker said she finds it unlikely the bill will lead to a lower abortion rate, as the financial costs of a pregnancy remain miniscule in comparison to those of having and raising a child.
“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Barker said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child in a middle-income family is $233,610, not including the cost of college.
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