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Kentucky GOP bill would require child support for fetuses

J. Tyler Franklin

Expectant mothers could claim child support during pregnancy under a bill in this year’s Kentucky General Assembly. But opponents say seeking financial support for the unborn is part of an anti-abortion agenda.

HB 243 would change state law to allow the collection of child support at any time following conception. Republican Rep. Amy Neighbors of Edmonton is co-sponsoring the measure in the House. She says the goal is reducing the financial stress that comes with pregnancy.

“There’s a lot involved with a pregnancy, things mothers have to prepare for before the birth occurs, and so I’m looking at this bill as a way to get the pregnant mother support from the father," Neighbors told WKU Public Radio.

But pro-choice advocates say the measure lays the groundwork for fetal personhood under Kentucky law. Bills suggesting a fetus is a person have been filed across the country since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. Legislation in the Indiana General Assemblywould allow pregnant women to claim their fetus as tax dependents.

“We know across the country that personhood measures like this one create confusion and chaos in our legal system, which often result in the surveillance and criminalization of pregnant people, including those that experience miscarriage and stillbirths," said Tamara Wieder, Kentucky State Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.

Earlier this month, a grand jury decided not to charge an Ohio womanfacing a criminal charge for her handling of a home miscarriage.

Wieder says a better way for lawmakers to help pregnant women would be to increase state support for healthcare and housing.

She adds the Kentucky measure requiring child support during pregnancy wouldn’t pay for a mother’s health care because of delays in proving paternity.

Under the measure, if paternity can’t be established in utero, testing could be done after birth and the father would owe retroactive child support.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.