WLBT-TV Jackson

Senator Hyde-Smith takes steps to potentially change what pregnancy looks like in Mississippi

By Holly Emery

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Wednesday morning, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith took steps to potentially change what pregnancy looks like here in Mississippi.

The first is co-sponsoring the “Unborn Child Support Act” - a way for the court to award child support payments as early as a conception of a child.

Local family law attorney Debra Allen says the act has potential.

“There are some measures in there to recapture pregnancy expenses, costs that the mother can have, but they’re all after the fact and not when they might need it. So that’s helpful.”

The Act would not require mothers to receive child support, if they do not want the involvement of the father. It would require judges to consult with mothers on payment plans and would mandate that all paternity tests be at the discretion of the mother and not be conducted if the test would put the child at risk.

The Co-Founder of Shero, a women’s rights group, says she believes the act attempts to BRIBE women into having their babies - something she doesn’t agree with.

“You’re attempting to pay them off, you know, to have their babies, you know, to go full time. And that’s disgusting. It’s a very weak attempt to do damage control, and image building or rebuilding and rebranding”

Allen disagrees - she says setting up payment plans for mothers during pregnancy could help. But the two other points may go against constitutional rights.

“I have fathers who file and volunteer to pay support. So, I have a little problem with it, they’ll only enforce this if the mother requests child support. We file as many paternity suits for fathers as we do for mothers. And under current Mississippi law. Father has an absolute right to ask and to receive DNA testing to confirm that he’s the biological father. So the way it’s written, there’ll be some tweaking.”

Allen says with more deliberation, the act could have the potential to help expecting mothers as long as the father’s rights stay protected.