WASHINGTON (KTAL/KMSS) – Republican congressional lawmakers and anti-abortion activists are hoping the reversal of Roe V. Wade will help clear the way for a new law allowing expecting mothers to demand child support from the fathers of their unborn children while they are still pregnant.

The Unborn Child Support Act (H.R.8362) was introduced Wednesday. If passed, it would amend the section of the Social Security Act governing the regulation of child and spousal support to include an “unborn child,” enacting child support obligations the first month in which the child was conceived.

“Life begins at conception, and this bill is a straightforward first step towards updating our federal laws to reflect that fact,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., who co-sponsored the bill along with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “We are hopeful that Democrats will join this bicameral effort to provide mothers with child support payments while their child is in the womb.”

“Caring for the well-being of our children begins long before a baby is born. It begins at the first moment of life – conception – and fathers have financial and otherwise obligations during pregnancy,” Cramer said in the statement. “Mothers should be able to access child support payments as soon as she is supporting a child. Our bill makes this possible.”

Cramer originally drafted and introduced the legislation in 2020, but it never made it out of the Senate finance committee. Supporters of the bill believe it has a better chance following the Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs, which allows states to ban or severely restrict abortion.

“In the new Dobbs era, our policies should reflect the science that life begins at conception and the reality that women and families start making plans well before the birth of a child,” reads a statement provided by Johnson’s congressional office Wednesday, which included a link to an essay titled, A Scientific View of When Life Begins, from the anti-abortion think tank Charlotte Lozier Institute founded by SBA Pro-Life America.

“From the moment a woman learns she is pregnant, throughout her pregnancy, and after a child is born, she should receive the support she needs to care for herself and baby,” said former Congresswoman and SBA Pro-Life America Vice President of Government Affairs Marilyn Musgrave. “We thank Senator Cramer, Congressman Johnson, and their colleagues for recognizing the critical, life-saving difference a father’s support makes and calling men to greater responsibility in helping moms choose life for their children.”

Johnson shared points from the draft legislation on his congressional page Wednesday.

If passed, he says the act would allow a court, in consultation with the mother, to award child support payments while the child is still in the womb and retroactively up to the point of conception as confirmed by a physician. It also:

  • 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.

Johnson’s statement also cites a recent poll from the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy that shows popular support for child support payments to begin at conception.  

Joining Senator Cramer and Representative Johnson are Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Representatives Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Jim Banks (R-IN), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Garret Graves (R-LA), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), and Claudia Tenney (R-NY).

Conservative and other anti-abortion organizations including March for Life, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America, also support the bill, which is currently referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.