Biological fathers in Utah are now legally required to help pay for half the medical costs associated with pregnancy and delivery.
The bill, which was signed by Republican Governor Spencer Cox last month, only applies to those whose paternity is verified.
While speaking with The Salt Lake Tribune, State Sen. Dan McCay, a Republican, described the bill as an effort “to try and bring some equity to the funding of pregnancies.”
But the new bill might not be just about helping moms.
Republican State Rep. Brady Brammer hopes to see the abortion rate drop in Utah as a result of prenatal child support.
“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it, as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer told the Associated Press. “One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Katrina Barker doesn’t believe the legislation will lead to fewer women terminating pregnancies.
“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Barker told the AP.
The AP reported that the average cost of raising a child is $233,610. That figure does not include the cost of college. The cost of an abortion is at most $1,000 if a woman does not have health insurance, according to Planned Parenthood.
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," Karrie Galloway, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, told TODAY Parents in a statement. "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. People who become pregnant should be able to determine for themselves what is best for them without legislative interference, compromising their privacy, or bureaucratic hurdles."
Gabriella Archuleta, a public policy analyst with YWCA Utah, which provides services to domestic violence survivors, also has concerns. She told the AP that domestic abuse can get worse during pregnancy and “seeking these costs could further increase stressors about financially supporting a baby.”
“On the surface of it, it looks like a good idea,” Achuleta said. “But what we’re here to do is look at some of the nuances and how it impacts women.”