According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study last year, the prenatal, childbirth, and post-partum medical costs are estimated at around $18,000 without insurance. Out-of-pocket for those enrolled in large group insurance plans is around $3,000.
Rep. Larry Frieman (R) developed House Bill 5 after attorneys who handle family law pointed out to him that any man who fathers a child can walk away and leave the entire financial burden on the expecting woman.
"That just doesn't seem to be fair," he submits. "So they asked me if I would be willing to bring a bill to change the law, and I said, 'Absolutely!' It's just basically about fundamental fairness."
The measure, which is not child support, makes it possible for the woman to recover half of the out-of-pocket expenses for pregnancy-related medical costs. But first, she must prove who the father is.
"You can't just make an allegation that someone's the father, and they have to pay," Frieman asserts. "But once she's able to prove paternity, then she would go to court, file a petition to get these … out-of-pocket medical expenses reimbursed to her. That's really it. It's that simple."
The action can be taken up to two years after birth and could apply during the pregnancy. Utah passed a similar bill in 2021.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Louisiana having a near-total ban on abortion, Frieman believes his bill will be an additional benefit to women throughout the state.
He eports that every one of his fellow lawmakers with whom he has discussed the bill has been supportive of it; not one has voiced opposition. He finds it difficult to believe that anyone in either house would oppose such a sensible measure.
The bill will be debated during the regular session that begins on April 10th.