All payments will be made through Utah's Office of Recovery Services to protect those with abusive partners.
Last week, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed HB113, a bill that makes biological fathers liable for half of the out-of-pocket costs of pregnancy and childbirth. The bill, which has been touted as "pro-life," was sponsored by Representative Brady Brammer and Senator Daniel McCay, both of whom belong to the GOP. The recently-introduced legislation is intended to increase the responsibility that biological fathers have of bringing new life into the world. While this may benefit certain mothers, the bill also ensures biological fathers will not have to pay for abortions that they did not consent to (unless the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger), The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
As per the new law, if paternity is in question, the biological father can hold off on payments until after paternity is established. However, once this is done, the father will be required to pay back 50 percent of the medical costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth. The bill passed unanimously in the Utah Senate, receiving immense support from Republican Senators. Democrats, on the other hand, opposed the bill in the House of Representatives. Despite the evident partisan split, lawmakers from both parties expressed concerns about the challenges that mothers may face in physically accessing the money they are owed.
For instance, in the case of those who have abusive partners, the payments make force mothers to be tied to them as a result of the legislation. Democratic Senator Luz Escamilla expressed these concerns throughout the bill’s journey through the Legislature. She asked for clarification regarding this, and claimed she was confident that it would “not open doors for anything that could put a survivor of domestic violence in any fear," The Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier. According to Representative Brammer, the law would simply function as per existing child support laws.
Utah governor signs bill requiring biological fathers to share the cost of pregnancy.— PostSecret (@postsecret) March 21, 2021
Let's pass this at the Federal level, right?
To ease these potential challenges, The Office of Recovery Services has been tasked with collecting child support. It would act as an intermediary between the mother and father, ensuring that anyone who has left an abusive relationship does not have to have more interactions than they need to with their former abuser. Further to this, while a mother is entitled to payments from the biological father, they are not mandated to pursue these payments. "There’s a lot of pieces in this," Senator Escamilla ultimately affirmed. "I think it’s a good bill. It’s about sharing costs when both parties are involved."