A new law in Utah – signed in March and set to take effect in May – will require biological fathers to cover half of all medical expenses related to pregnancy and birth, including insurance premiums.
The legislation is thought to be the nation’s first – other states like New York and Wisconsin have similar provisions for sharing pregnancy costs, but fall short of Utah’s more robust standard.
According to medical journal Health Affairs, the average out-of-pocket costs of childbirth and maternal care among women with employer health insurance was $4,569 in 2015, the last year there was data.
The Utah bill was passed with bipartisan support, but is not without controversy. Its GOP sponsor, State Representative Brady Brammer, called it “pro-life” and critics say its designed to discourage women from having abortions.
“I wanted to try to do something that may help the situation, which is people in a really tough spot, making a really tough decision,” Brammer told The New York Times. “This was not necessarily intended to be about abortion. It was the idea that abortion is happening because people are put in a really difficult situation,” he added.
Biological fathers do not have to fund an abortion if they object to it, according to the new law.
Karrie Galloway, the president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said in a statement, “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.”