MONDAY, April 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- A new law requires biological fathers in Utah to pay half of a woman's out-of-pocket pregnancy costs in what the bill's sponsor says is an attempt to reduce the burden on pregnant women and increase responsibility for men who have children.
The father's financial obligation would include a pregnant woman's health insurance premiums and any pregnancy-related medical costs. However, critics say the new law does not do enough to improve maternal health care needs, will not help women who are most vulnerable, and could put pregnant women in abusive relationships at greater risk, the Associated Press reported.
The legislation, recently signed by Gov. Spencer Cox, appears to make Utah the first state to mandate a father's support during pregnancy, according to the state's Planned Parenthood association and the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Brady Brammer. But some states, such as Wisconsin and New York, do have rules that can make fathers financially responsible for pregnancy expenses, the AP reported.
Fathers will not have to pay until paternity is established, and will not be financially responsible for the cost of an abortion performed without his consent unless it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.
It is not clear if the new law will actually meet women's needs, according to Democratic lawmakers and women's rights activists. There are better ways to help women, including Medicaid expansion, access to birth control, and providing paid parental leave, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katrina Barker told the AP.