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Kentucky Senate passes bipartisan bill to allow a parent to collect child support for pregnancy expenses

The GOP-controlled Kentucky Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to grant a parent the right to seek child support from the other parent for pregnancy expenses.

The GOP-controlled Kentucky Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to grant a parent the right to collect child support for unborn children.

Senate Bill 110, which passed by a bipartisan 36-2 vote, would allow a mother to request child support up to a year after giving birth to retroactively cover pregnancy expenses. The legislation now advances to the House, and Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.

Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, the bill's sponsor, said after the vote that the overwhelming support for the bill shows that lawmakers understand that pregnancy includes an obligation for the other parent to help cover the expenses incurred during the nine months prior to the baby's birth.

"I believe that life begins at conception," Westerfield said when presenting the proposal to his colleagues. "But even if you don't, there's no question that there are obligations and costs involved with having a child before that child is born."


The measure establishes a strict cut-off time, requiring a parent to retroactively seek child support for pregnancy expenses up to a year after giving birth and no time after that.

"So if there's not a child support order until the child's 8, this isn't going to apply," Westerfield recently said when the bill was reviewed in a Senate committee. "Even at a year and a day, this doesn't apply. It's only for orders that are in place within a year of the child's birth."

Kentucky is among at least six states where lawmakers have proposed measures similar to a Georgia law allowing child support to be sought for child expenses incurred since conception. Georgia also allows prospective parents to claim its income tax deduction for dependent children before birth, Utah implemented a pregnancy tax break last year and variations of those measures have been proposed in several other states.

The Kentucky bill had a major revision before it was passed by the Senate. The original version would have allowed a parent to seek child support at any time after conception, but it was amended to include a time limit for a parent to retroactively take such action.


Supporters of abortion access will watch closely for any attempt by pro-life lawmakers to reshape the bill in a way that "sets the stage for personhood" for a fetus, Kentucky State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Tamarra Wieder said.

Wieder's concerns come following a recent decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled that frozen embryos are legally protected children. The pro-life movement has attempted to give embryos and fetuses legal and constitutional protections equivalent to the mothers carrying them.

The Kentucky measure still needs to be approved by a House committee and the full House, and any change by the House would send it back to the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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