LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A proposed Arkansas House bill would require biological fathers to pay half of a woman's pregnancy-related medical costs paid out-of-pocket.
HB1870, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Breanne Davis (R-Russellville), proposes that a father who is found by a court to be the biological father of a child shall pay 50% of pregnancy and childbirth expenses incurred by the mother of the child.
The fees included are the sum of a pregnant woman's health insurance premiums while pregnant that are not paid by an employer or government program and medical costs related to the pregnancy incurred after the date of conception and before the pregnancy ends. The court will subtract any portion of health insurance premiums or medical costs covered during the pregnancy from the final payment.
The mother of the child or representing agent will have to submit expense claims to the court to receive the funds from the father.
‘We want our fathers held accountable for taking care of their children and part of that is prenatal care,” said bill sponsor Representative Aaron Pilkington.
A child's biological father will not be ordered to pay for pregnancy and childbirth expenses if the mother of the child receives an abortion without the consent of the father of the child. Exceptions are if the abortion was necessary to save the mother's life or if the mother became pregnant by rape.
If the father does not pay the expenses, Arkansas courts will have the power to commit the accused father to jail until the payments are made.
The bill will now head to an Arkansas Senate committee for a vote.
“As a pro-life state, we want to make sure we say we want to be pro-life. We want women to keep the baby. We at the same time need to make sure that it’s not all falling on them,” Rep. Pilkington said.
The bill received an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support with a vote of 89 yays and two present votes. However, not every Arkansan is satisfied with the bill.
Gary Ellison, father of a three-year-old said, “If you want to put more on the father then give him more time with his kid.”
He says it’s a good bill, but it neglects the fact that some fathers don’t have equal parental rights. Ellison says if this bill passes, another one should be drafted to ensure fathers have equal shared responsibility with their children.
According to Tim Snively, partner at Snively Law Firm, the expenses would be split in court and would not place any burden of splitting the bill on hospitals.
“In court, the mother would present all of the bills and expenses she had due to the pregnancy,” Snively said. “The judge would look at them, verify them and divide them in half and order the father to pay half of them."
After undergoing some revisions, the bill is headed back to the Senate for another vote.
Utah became the first state in the U.S. to enact a similar law earlier this month.
Check back for updates to this bill.