Louisiana considers bill requiring fathers to cover half of pregnancy costs

Lawmakers in Louisiana are considering a bill that would allow pregnant women to recover half of pregnancy costs from the father of the preborn child.

HB 5 was introduced by Rep. Larry Frieman, who said the matter is an issue of fairness. Frieman told the Daily Advertiser that while he did vote for Louisiana’s pro-life bills, those were not the only reason for introducing the legislation. “I think it enhances the necessity for a bill like this,” he said, adding that he was contacted by family law attorneys over the issue. “They told me a pregnant woman has no current mechanism to require the father to help. That’s just not fair.”

With HB 5, a paternity test would be performed, and it can be taken up to two years after the birth. The father would be required to pay 50% of out-of-pocket pregnancy-related costs. “The father should absolutely be responsible for those expenses,” Frieman said.

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Louisiana is one of several states in which preborn children are protected from abortion, and critics have complained that the state doesn’t do enough to support women and children. Lawmakers responded that their goal is to add legislation increasing that support, which Frieman said his bill is an example of. The average out-of-pocket cost for childbirth alone for women who have health insurance is, according to Forbes, nearly $3,000; for women without health insurance, the cost is even higher — over $18,000. That doesn’t include the cost of prenatal care.

Similar legislation was passed in Utah in 2021, and was highly praised by many, though Planned Parenthood complained that lawmakers should have been focusing on other things. Rep. Brady Brammer, who introduced the legislation, still argued that it was a way to support women. “You can support pregnant moms and new babies and it doesn’t have to be about abortion,” he told the BBC, adding that at the core of the abortion issue is “someone in a really tough position in life, making a real tough decision in life. Perhaps we could make that situation a little bit easier.”

It’s a position that Frieman clearly takes as well.

“I am very pleased to see my HB 5 getting the publicity it deserves around our state. This is needed legislation to help pregnant women, and I am proud to bring it to the legislature,” he wrote on Facebook. “And I’m very thankful for the outpouring of support I have received already for this bill.”

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