Representative Lawrence Frieman speaks about the gender affirming care bill Tuesday, May 16, 2023, inside the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La. (Matthew Perschall/Louisiana Illuminator)
Louisiana mothers will be able to recover half of their out-of-pocket, pregnancy-related medical expenses from the fathers of their children starting in August.
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill Wednesday after it advanced unanimously through the Legislature. The law’s author, Rep. Larry Frieman, R-Abita Springs, framed his proposal as a way to address some of the realities in Louisiana since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
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Mark Mansfield, who has practiced family law in St. Tammany Parish for more than 20 years, said he began discussing the proposal with fellow lawyers when the state came under a near-total abortion ban after the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer.
“For those that are pregnant, we want to give them a chance to recover the expenses the same way they can do when the child is alive,” Mansfield said at a hearing in May, where he presented the bill alongside Frieman.
To recover the share of costs, mothers must prove paternity within two years of the child’s birth. This can be done by fathers acknowledging paternity or by meeting a standard of evidence where paternity is proven to be more likely than not.
Expenses related to both prenatal care and birth are covered under the bill. These include hospital visits, testing, nursing, medications and travel. Fathers may have to split other expenses if a court deems them “reasonable and necessary.”
Louisiana will join a few states, including New York and Wisconsin, with similar legal avenues for mothers. Utah passed a law in 2021 that goes further than Louisiana’s by including the mother’s health insurance premiums and creating a mandate for fathers to split the costs.
Morgan Lamandre, president and chief executive of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, a nonprofit serving sexual assault survivors, said in a hearing she hopes the law can be expanded in the future to include miscarriages and stillbirths, as mothers still incur costs from those pregnancies.
Frieman said he was committed to working on those changes in coming sessions.
“I think this is a very good bill to really help the pregnant women in our state who have no way to recover these medical expenses,” Frieman said in April.
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