The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would make unmarried fathers equally liable for medical expenses for a child. Senate Bill 75, which Governor Kristi Noem requested, amends an existing bill to include medical expenses prior and after the birth. Additionally, it provides legal remedies.
Senator David Wheeler introduced SB75 the Senate Judiciary Committee. He stated that the old language was no longer acceptable and that new language stipulates that unmarried couples share equal financial responsibility for costs related to pregnancy and childbirth. It includes prenatal care, delivery and postpartum.
“If it’s a medical complication afterwards, if it’s post-partum depression and the person needs counseling, those are a result of that pregnancy, they are a result of that birth, and they are an expense that should be borne by both people involved in that child’s life,” Wheeler said.
Additional legal remedies are also available in the bill, including small claims.
Diana Miller, South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault lobbyist, stated that SB 75 was a good piece of public policy.
“When we have the circumstance of a child born out of wedlock, for fairness purposes, both people are responsible, not only for creating that child, but for the upbringing and the long-term effect of medical health,” she said.
South Dakota Right to Life also supports this bill. Dale Bartscher, executive director, stated that the South Dakota Department of Health tracks abortion statistics for the past year. One question is why the patient requests the procedure.
Bartscher stated that the bill would eliminate one of the top causes if it is passed.
“If you average the last five years, you will find that the second-highest reason given for that, is that the mother could not afford the child,” Bartscher said.
Avera and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists were other proponents. There were no opposition. The bill was unanimously approved by the committee and sent to the full Senate.
Leave a Reply