FARGO — Sen. Kevin Cramer has introduced a bill in Congress that would give a pregnant mother the ability to receive child support payments before her baby is born.

Cramer, R-N.D., announced his sponsorship of the Unborn Child Support Act, which he introduced on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

“Life begins at conception,” Cramer said in a statement. “Our laws should reflect that truth, especially when it comes to helping mothers provide for the welfare of their children.”

Five fellow Republicans join Cramer as co-sponsors of the bill, which has no Democratic co-sponsors. “If we are going to be pro-life, we should be pro-all-of-life and ensure we give moms the support they need,” Cramer said.

If passed into law, the act would allow a judge, in consultation with the mother, to award child support payments from the father while the child is still in the womb and retroactively up until the point of conception, as determined by a physician.

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The bill would require judges to consult with mothers on payment plans and would give mothers discretion as to whether child support payments would be awarded retroactively.

States have child support laws that require fathers to support their children.

A Georgia abortion law also includes provisions that allow a mother to request alimony and child support to care for a fetus. The Georgia law allows parents to claim a fetus as a “dependent minor” in order to receive a tax deduction for the unborn child.

Asked what prompted the introduction of the bill, Cramer told The Forum: “The recognition of an unborn child as a human is an obvious demand. Built on that presumption, it only stands to reason that they would be a dependent of both parents.”

He added: “Also, if we were to pass this legislation, we further advance the case that this is a human. I look for every opportunity to acknowledge an unborn child is a human being.”

In North Dakota, the state child support program can use genetic testing, available at no charge, when a child’s father has not been legally established. The program can help to establish an order for child support and medical support, unless an order already exists.

Last year, more than 27,000 parents made at least one child support payment covering almost 68,000 children in North Dakota, according to figures from the North Dakota Department of Human Services, which administers the program.

The child support program collected a record $172 million, with employer withholding providing the largest share, $95.7 million.

As of last year, overdue child support payments in North Dakota totaled $392.5 million, with $256.7 million of that from cases enforced by the state child support program, which handles enforcement of roughly 75% of child support obligations in the state.

Last year, almost 77% of child support payments were current, according to state figures. The program collected $6.36 for every $1 spent on the program last year, according to the state.