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Unborn child support?

Senate and congressional Republicans introduced a new Unborn Child Support Act to provide child support during pregnancy.

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A week and a half ago, nine Senators and one Representative addressed a problem the anti-life side has long accused the pro-life side of failure to address. Who, the anti-life people ask, pays child support to a woman pregnant out of wedlock? Now these ten Republicans have an answer – and their opponents aren’t comfortable with it.

The Unborn Child Support Act

Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced his Unborn Child Support Act (S. 4512) on July 13. Reportage on the bill comes from American Action News, CBS News, and WAFB-TV (Channel 9, Baton Rouge, La.).

At issue is Title 42, United States Code, Section 654, which already provides for “State plans for child support.” The Unborn Child Support Act inserts certain phrases, and changes certain punctuations, to make unborn children eligible also. The most salient addition is a new Paragraph 35, requiring a State to

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.

That last is subject to the consent and “consultation” of the child’s mother. It also makes unborn child support payments retroactive to the month of conception (if the mother wants them). Any such payments would be at the discretion of a court.

Then the bill adds this:

For purposes of paragraphs (4) and (35), the term “unborn child” means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.

Introductory statements

Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) introduced the bill in the House. In so doing, he said this:

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.

For his part, Senator Cramer offered these comments:

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 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.

Concerned Women for America announced their support for the Unborn Child Support Act. Penny Nance, the head of CWA, said:

At Concerned Women for America, we believe that life begins at conception and are proud to support the Unborn Child Support Act. This legislation recognizes the sanctity of human life and encourages mothers to choose life by allowing women to receive child support while pregnant. We must continue to fight to protect the dignity of every human being and ensure that we support mothers in the process.

Who wouldn’t support an unborn child?

Who, indeed? But some of the very people complaining the loudest that “young studs” “sowing their wild oats” take advantage of women and won’t pay them child support, still find fault with this bill.

Laurie Bertram Roberts helped found something called the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. Her issue is with efforts to define an unborn child as a person under the law or Constitution. Shortly after the introduction of the Unborn Child Support Act, she said this to the Mississippi Free Press:

This is not the first time they’ve tried to insert this personhood language into a national bill. And see, the way they’re doing it is very sneaky, the way they’re doing it is under the guise of, “Oh look, doesn’t this make sense?” Because this is one of those arguments that has been coming from people who actually support abortion, which is why I tell people not to make these arguments, even in jest, like, “If y’all want to make us have babies, start child support at the moment of conception.”

So! To address the one remaining legitimate issue about men’s conduct in this regard, is to drive an entering wedge. Therefore they’d rather not have child support available, so they can insist that a person … isn’t a person.

Do they want help, or don’t they? Or would they rather complain about the inconvenience of life?

A person’s a person…

In fact the word person does not appear in the Unborn Child Support Act. The word child does. And the bill defines an unborn child unmistakably as an entity that comes into being at conception.

Of the complaints against the bill, the less said the better – because the complaints are, frankly, illogical. If, for example, “you can’t get blood out of a turnip,” why consort with the turnip?

But one observation the complainants make is actually a good thing, whether the complainants think so or not. Will bills like this have fathers and mothers connect in ways they’re not connecting today? How can that be anything but good, for the children involved, and their parents, and civilization as a whole?

A Bucknell Institute survey shows that something like the Unborn Child Support Act would enjoy widespread support. It might not have majority support, but it would come close. In fact, opposition always runs lower than support in any subdivision of the survey sample. (That includes men v. women, pro-life v. anti-life, and so on.)

CNAV urges all men to get behind a measure like this – and also to take responsibility for intimate relations. “Hookup culture” was never pro-civilizational, and it’s high time men and women both walked away from it. That’s part of treating a person as a person, no matter how small.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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