TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, in an effort to improve conditions for more children following the end of federal abortion protections, has proposed amending child support regulations to require payments beginning at the month of conception.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), is called the Unborn Child Support Act. The two senators, when announcing their introduction of the bill in U.S. Congress, said it was aimed at giving mothers the ability to receive financial support form the fathers of their children while pregnant.
“We should do everything we can to support American mothers and their children. This bill would allow expecting mothers to prepare and support their babies before they are born,” Rubio said in a statement.
Based on the statements submitted by the two sponsors, the bill is intended to provide for prenatal costs of care.
“Caring for the well-being of our children begins long before a baby is born,” Cramer said. “It begins at the first moment of life – conception – and fathers have obligations, financial and otherwise, during pregnancy. Mothers should be able to access child support payments as soon as she is supporting a child. Our bill makes this possible.”
The bill itself makes a specific change to current federal regulations regarding child support. Under the proposed legislation, the government would require that states “establish and enforce child support obligations of the biological father of an unborn child (and subsequent to the birth of the child) to the mother of such child” at the mother’s request.
As proposed, the bill would allow mothers to request child support payments beginning with the month the mother became pregnant. The funds would be able to be “retroactively collected or awarded, including in the case where paternity is established subsequent to the birth of the child.”
While the proposed bill is sponsored by Rubio of Florida, a similar legislative option to support families was defeated in the most recent Florida legislative session.
When the Florida Legislature was debating and passing House Bill 5, the 15-week abortion ban now in effect, state Democrats tried introducing an amendment that would require child support payments beginning at 15 weeks of gestation, to match the ban’s end of abortions for Florida mothers.
Along with 12 other proposed amendments to the bill, which included exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking victims, the child support amendment proposed by Palm Beach senator Tina Scott Polsky, was not included in the final version of the bill.
Rubio’s bill has multiple cosponsors in addition to Cramer. All of them are federal Republican lawmakers.
Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are also cosponsors. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Johnson (R-La.) introduced companion legislation.
At this stage of a heavily divided U.S. Congress, and midterms approaching, it is unclear if Rubio’s bill will clear both chambers before the next legislative session.
In a set of statements provided by bill cosponsors, Cramer said the bill was drafted to let courts, “in consultation with the mother” award payments and provide “flexibility” for mothers who don’t want the child’s father involved.
Cramer’s rundown of the bill’s effects says, if passed, the Unborn Child Support Act will:
- Provides flexibility for mothers who do not want involvement of the father by not requiring those mothers to receive child support.
- Requires judges to consult with mothers on payment plans and gives mothers discretion as to whether or not child support payments will be awarded retroactively.
- Mandates that all paternity tests be at the discretion of the mother and not be conducted if the test would put the child at risk.
“Life begins at conception, and this bill is a straightforward first step towards updating our federal laws to reflect that fact. We are hopeful that Democrats will join this bicameral effort to provide mothers with child support payments while their child is in the womb,” Johnson said in support of the bill, which he’s sponsoring in the U.S. House.
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