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Bill to cover pregnancy expenses advances

Rep. Lawrence “Larry” Frieman proposed a bill to allow mothers to recover pregnancy-related expenses.
Omicron Pregnancy Warning
Posted at 7:30 AM, May 17, 2023

BATON ROUGE — A bill that would allow mothers to recover half of out-of-pocket, pregnancy-related medical expenses from the father of their child cleared another hurdle Tuesday.

House Bill 5, by Rep. Lawrence “Larry” Frieman, R-Abita Springs, moved forward from the Senate Judiciary A Committee. It is one of several bills filed this session to address the realities of post-Roe v. Wade in Louisiana.

Mark Mansfield, who has practiced family law in St. Tammany Parish for more than 20 years, said he began talking about legislation like this with fellow lawyers around the time of the Supreme Court decision that triggered a near-total abortion ban in the state last summer.

“For those of 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.

And the same way that paternity must be proved for women to receive child support, it must be proven to recover the pregnancy expenses.

Mansfield said he thinks the bill would appeal to people regardless of their position on abortion. And that has been true this session, with both anti-abortion and abortion rights groups expressing support for the legislation.

Morgan Lamandre, the president and chief executive of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, a nonprofit serving sexual violence survivors, raised concerns earlier in the session about the bill, and Frieman has worked to address them.

Frieman’s bill currently gives women a two-year window to recuperate the costs, but he is planning to amend it to make it a two-year period to prove paternity. This, Lamandre said, would give women more time to take advantage of the law, especially if they are on long payment plans for their hospital visit.

Lamandre also hopes the law can be tweaked in the coming years to include miscarriages and stillborn children, as women still incur costs during those pregnancies. Frieman said he was committed to working on those changes.

Utah passed a similar law in 2021 that required fathers to pay half of out-of-pocket, pregnancy-related medical expenses.

Frieman hopes his bill will mean progress for Louisiana mothers.

“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,” he said earlier in the session.