Republicans Seek Child Support Payments for Fetuses

Plus: Judge blocks Title IX guidance, Amazon admits turning over Ring surveillance footage to cops, and more...


New legislation would require some fathers to pay child support during pregnancy, beginning in the month of conception. The Unborn Child Support Act—introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R–N.D.) last Wednesday—would amend the Social Security Act "to ensure that child support for unborn children is collected and distributed under the child support enforcement program."

The legislation (Senate Bill 4512) already has nine co-sponsors—all Republicans—including Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), and Marco Rubio (Fla.). A companion bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson (R–La.), has 13 co-sponsors.

Under the Unborn Child Support Act, a pregnant woman could request child support during pregnancy and the state could order "the biological father of an unborn child" to pay, beginning "with the first month in which the child was conceived, as determined by a physician." Unborn child is defined as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

Such payments "may be retroactively collected or awarded, including in the case where paternity is established subsequent to the birth of the child," the draft law states.

Abortion opponents are often accused of not doing much to actually help women with unwanted or difficult pregnancies. Looked at in one light, the Unborn Child Support Act is simply a bid to remedy that.

"Caring for the well-being of our children begins long before a baby is born," said Cramer in a statement. "It begins at the first moment of life—conception—and fathers have obligations, financial and otherwise, during pregnancy."

But sponsors of the bill may have a hidden agenda. By amending federal law to say that child support is owed during pregnancy, the Unborn Child Support Act could help establish that legal personhood begins at conception—a change that could have implications far beyond child support.

"Life begins at conception. This bill is a simple first step toward updating our federal laws to reflect that fact," tweeted Johnson last week.

Cramer and several co-sponsors of the Unborn Child Support Act are also co-sponsors of a stalled federal bill declaring that "the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being."

"This is not the first time they've tried to insert this personhood language into a national bill," Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund co-founder Laurie Bertram Roberts told the Mississippi Free Press. "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.'"

Roberts also suggested that the bill could be "another way to nickel and dime low-income and working class non-custodial parents in a way that makes money for the state."


Judge blocks Biden administration's Title IX guidance. On Friday, a federal judge put a halt on the Biden administration's 2021 guidance regarding Title IX. The policy guidance would extend Title IX's protection against sex-based discrimination in education to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Twenty states have sued over the proposed change. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles E. Atchley Jr. said the new guidance "directly interferes with and threatens Plaintiff States' ability to continue enforcing their state laws" and issued a preliminary injunction on its enforcement.

The Department of Education "will have to finalize its Title IX rule to enforce its guidance," notes Politico. "The Education Department published its Title IX proposed rule in June, which would codify its guidance protecting transgender students once it's finalized. The comment period on the rule runs through September." Read more on the proposed rule here.


Amazon answers about Ring surveillance. Amazon admitted that it sometimes turns over footage from its Ring home security cameras to law enforcement without Ring owners knowing it and without a warrant. The acknowledgment came in response to a request for information from Sen. Ed Markey (D–Mass.). In a July 1 letter, Amazon said it has turned over data under such circumstances 11 times this year.

"Ring has stated that it will not share 'customer information' with law enforcement absent consent, a warrant, or 'an exigent or emergency' circumstance," noted Markey, asking Amazon to "please explain in detail Ring's specific internal policies regarding what constitutes an 'exigent or emergency' circumstance."

"How many times has Ring shared a user's recordings with law enforcement because of
an 'exigent or emergency' circumstance?" Markey also asked.

Amazon responded:

As stated in Ring's law enforcement guidelines, Ring reserves the right to respond immediately to urgent law enforcement requests for information in cases involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person. Emergency disclosure requests must be accompanied by a completed emergency request form.Based on the information provided in the emergency request form and the circumstances described by the officer, Ring makes a good-faith determination
whether the request meets the well-known standard, grounded in federal law, that there is imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure of information without delay. …

So far this year, Ring has provided videos to law enforcement in response to an emergency request only 11 times. In each instance, Ring made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of information without delay.


• A shooter killed three people in an Indianapolis mall on Sunday before being shot by an armed bystander.

• What abortion code words can tell us about online activism.

• The U.S. military isn't immune from tough times recruiting: "Almost across the board, the armed forces are experiencing large shortfalls in enlistments this year—a deficit of thousands of entry-level troops that is on pace to be worse than any since just after the Vietnam War," notes The New York Times. The pandemic, vaccination policies, and a hot labor market play a role, as do "longer-term demographic trends … Less than one-quarter of young American adults are physically fit to enlist and have no disqualifying criminal record, a proportion that has shrunk steadily in recent years."

• Land acknowledgment policies are at the center of a lawsuit involving the University of Washington.

• "A new report on federal firearm offenses shows that the vast majority involve illegal possession, often without aggravating circumstances or a history of violence," notes Reason's Jacob Sullum. "The data undermine the assumption that people who violate gun laws are predatory criminals who pose a serious threat to public safety" and "highlight the racially disproportionate impact of such laws."

• "The Texas Medical Association wants regulators to step in after hospitals reportedly refused to treat patients with serious pregnancy complications for fear of violating the state's abortion ban," reports The Dallas Morning News.

• "The Department of Education should not exist," said Betsy DeVos, the former secretary of the Department of Education.

• "More than halfway through 2022, many cities and towns across America—big and small—are somehow still pretending that food trucks are some newfangled nuisances that must be regulated out of existence," writes Baylen Linnekin for Reason.