The Hill

Rubio proposes child support regulations beginning at conception

By Chloe Flomar

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow mothers to collect child support beginning at conception.

The bicameral bill would amend the Social Security Act “to ensure that child support for unborn children is collected and distributed under the child support enforcement program.”

Under the bill, mothers would be able to request child support from the month of conception onward, but would not be required to do so.

Mothers would also be able to choose whether to collect child support payments retroactively through the month of conception, including if paternity is only established after the birth of the child.

“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,” Cramer said of the bill.

Eight Republican senators are cosponsoring the bill, including Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) introduced partner legislation to the Unborn Child Support Act in the House.

“I hope good legislation, like the Unborn Child Support Act, gets more support now that the Dobbs decision encourages us to look more seriously at supporting mothers and their unborn children,” Hyde-Smith said in support of the bill.

The Unborn Child Support Act is one of multiple bills proposed by Republicans aiming to support mothers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

Rubio on Thursday introduced another bill, the Standing with Moms Act, as part of the “pro-life, pro-family framework” he rolled out after the Dobbs decision.

The framework includes proposals to expand the child tax credit, provide additional funding to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and make the adoption tax credit fully refundable, among others.

Republicans are also responding to criticism from both the public and their Democratic colleagues accusing them of a lack of care for mothers and children after they have been born.

“Not only do they want to force women to have children if they are pregnant, but when they do have them, they don’t want to provide any support for them,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told The Washington Post earlier this year.

Washington and Lee University Law School Professor Carliss Chatman posted a viral tweet in May, reading: “If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when the child support starts?…Just figuring if we’re going here we should go all in.”

Hollywood has also weighed in on the child support question after Roe’s demise.

“In States where abortion is illegal the father should be financially on the hook at the moment of conception,” actor Ken Olin tweeted days after Dobbs was handed down.

In a statement, Cramer referenced a Bucknell University Institute for Public Policy poll indicating that child support payments beginning at conception have some “popular support.”

The poll found that about half of respondents favored the payments beginning at conception, including 53 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of independents.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents opposed a child support expansion, while 25 percent said they were unsure.