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April 12, 2021
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April 12, 2021

State of Utah tells men, ‘You make it, you pay for (part of) it’

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Posted: Monday, April 12, 2021. 8:39 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Legislators in the state of Utah, U.S.A., as of May will legally oblige fathers to pay half of a mother’s medical care for pregnancy and delivery, though not for the cost of an abortion, the BBC reports.

The law requires biological fathers to pay half of a mother’s insurance premiums – her monthly health insurance costs – during pregnancy as well as all other related medical fees, including the birth of the child. However, if paternity of the child is in question, fathers are able to delay payments until paternity is proven. Similar to child support, if a woman does not seek assistance, the father will not be notified. Biological fathers will not be required to contribute to the cost of an abortion if it is sought without their consent, except in the case of rape or if the mother’s life is in danger.

Supporters of the law – which is thought to be the first of its kind in the U.S. – say it will help alleviate the financial burden of motherhood for American women.

Insured women on average pay out $4,500 to give birth, according to a study in the Health Affairs journal that tracked costs from 2008 – 2015. For those without coverage, this figure could more than double: the not-for-profit Fair Health organisation reported the average as closer to $10,000. The cost of an abortion, without insurance, is roughly $1,000 according to Planned Parenthood. (All figures U.S. dollars).

The law passed unanimously with bipartisan support in the state’s Senate but faced Democratic opposition in the House of Representatives. Sponsor state Congressman Brady Brammer has said that he wanted a bill that was “actually pro-life” following a spate of anti-abortion bills introduced in the state.

“You can support pregnant moms and new babies and it doesn’t have to be about abortion,” Brammer, an anti-abortion Republican, told the BBC.

In the U.S., 24% of women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute – a research organisation in favour of abortion access. But of these women, nearly half live below the federal poverty line.

Pro-choice advocates and women’s groups have said they support efforts to lessen the costs of pregnancy and childcare. But they would prefer the focus on expanded Medicaid [low-income health scheme], better insurance coverage, equitable access to reproductive health care, and paid family leave.

Utah legislators previously passed a proposal to ban elective abortions 18 weeks after conception. Women seeking an abortion before that time must receive in-person counselling regarding their pregnancy, which includes information that could discourage them from an abortion, and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is provided.

And last year, Utah lawmakers passed a so-called “trigger ban” that would bar nearly all abortions if the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that first legalised abortion across the country were ever overturned.

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