OKLAHOMA CITY – The father of an unborn child would be responsible for the cost of prenatal care or paying child support under legislative action created by two Republican lawmakers.
House Bill 1985 and Senate Bill 656 would require the father or “second parent” to pay either half of a mother’s out-of-pocket expenses for “medically necessary and appropriate prenatal care” or the amount they later owe in child support. birth, whichever is less. That requirement would be waived if both parties had made legally binding agreements to the contrary.
A man who fails to fulfill his obligation could face a prison sentence of up to six months for the first offense and up to one year in prison for the second.
No father should pay to terminate a pregnancy under the law.
Oklahoma is believed to be one of the first states to consider such legislation, said State Representative Cody Maynard, R-Durant, author of the 1985 House Bill.
Both proposals come just months after Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma passed some of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country. Since most abortions at conception are prohibited except to save the mother’s life, some critics have argued that if life begins at conception, lawmakers should pass legislation that treats the fetus as a child.
Maynard said he supports the state’s abortion restrictions and believes fathers should provide financial support before birth.
“For as long as I can remember, the care of the child in the womb has always fallen exclusively on the mother,” Maynard said. “So if the father doesn’t choose to help pay, then that burden falls on the mother. It takes two to create a child. Ideally it would take two to raise a child, but I really want to create a scenario where the burden isn’t just on one mother.
Maynard said he’s not sure his laws would allow a mother to wait to establish paternity until the child is born, then file an application to collect prenatal care expenses. He said he wouldn’t be against that.
State Senator David Bullard, R-Durant, author of Senate Bill 656, was not available for comment.
A parent, prosecutor, or Department of Human Services employee can initiate legal proceedings to establish paternity, and a court can order the mother to submit a “scientifically reliable genetic test” with a statistical accuracy of at least least 95%, using non-invasive prenatal paternity. amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.
Dr. Dana Stone, an obstetrician in Oklahoma City, said most prenatal procedures are designed to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities, and some are invasive and carry risks for both the unborn child and the mother. She said procedures can be expensive and don’t always work as intended.
“If I have patients who say they want to establish paternity, I don’t encourage it before delivery,” she said. “I don’t encourage it before childbirth because of the risks, which are small, but not nothing. And it’s so easy to do once the baby is born.
She said pregnant women can take a blood test to find out their baby’s sex and genetic disorder risks, but that test is not used to determine paternity.
There is a non-invasive blood test that can be used to determine fetal paternity, but Stone said she doesn’t know how easy it is to obtain and its availability depends on the lab. A laboratory would need to be set up to process fetal, maternal and paternal samples for comparison.
She said chorionic villus sampling is an invasive procedure usually performed between 10 and 13 weeks, and a doctor inserts a small catheter through the cervix to obtain a sample of the developing placenta. Women who undergo this procedure have a 1 in 500 risk of miscarriage.
Stone said amniocentesis is also invasive, and doctors using an ultrasound go through the mother’s abdomen to the uterine wall and collect fluid around the baby. The fluid contains skin cells, and those cells are used to grow the baby’s DNA. Stone said the procedure also carries a low risk of miscarriage.
Both procedures also put a woman at risk for infection or rupture of the membranes, which can also lead to pregnancy loss, she said.
D-Oklahoma City State Representative Mickey Dollens said he would like to know if a mother can file prenatal care expenses after the birth of a child.
He supports the concept of requiring fathers to pay prenatal costs, saying that if Oklahoma lawmakers believe life begins at conception, they should have compliance in all statutes, including allowing pregnant women to use high-occupancy lanes and require businesses to cover life. insurance policies on the unborn.
“If they are going to adopt such a definition, then at least they should do everything they can to make the pregnant woman’s life easier and better,” he said.
However, Dollens said he awaits the outcome of court proceedings challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s near-abortion ban. If declared unconstitutional, Dollens said it could force Republicans to send the issue to a nationwide vote, and allow voters to reject the idea that life begins at conception and restore access to abortion.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach her at [email protected]