Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been ridiculed after suggesting that one way to reduce abortions is to force men to pay child support from the moment of conception.
During an interview with DeSantis this week, Fox News’ Kayleigh McEnany noted that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed legislation that would allow expectant mothers to receive child support payments while they are still pregnant.
Asked if that is something he would consider, DeSantis, who is polling in second in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said: “Most of these women do not want to have abortions, but they feel like they have no other options because they get no support and that’s because a lot of these men are nowhere to be found.”
Men “should absolutely be providing support,” DeSantis added. “They should absolutely be held accountable.”
Rubio’s proposed legislation, the Unborn Child Support Act, states the father’s obligation to pay child support “may begin with the first month in which the child was conceived, as determined by a physician.”
In Florida, abortion is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. DeSantis signed a six-week ban in April, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, but the law is not in effect pending a review by the Florida Supreme Court.
DeSantis also told McEnany that in Florida, being “pro-life means for the whole kit and caboodle,” adding that that state law has expanded postpartum medical care for poor women and options for foster care and adoption.
“I think a lot of it comes down to whether women think it’s financially feasible to do that and when they don’t get support from the father, then it can be overwhelming,” DeSantis added. “So we in Florida are sympathetic to those women in that situation.”
DeSantis’ remarks were met with criticism on social media, with some noting the proposal is unlikely to be popular with men and difficult to enforce.
“This is a great way to ensure that the Republicans never win a presidential election again,” author Eric Mrozek wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “Paying for child support when the kid isn’t even born makes no f****** sense whatsoever.”
Rachel Lynn Bell wrote: “I’m so sure every man will LOVE this as much as women LOVE having their reproductive rights taken from them!!!”
Another user wrote: “yes because as everyone knows, all men always pay child support for the children that are actually alive already.”
Chris Knight wrote that forcing men to pay child support from conception is actually “a nailed-on way to assure a massive spike in abortions.”
Others pointed to cases of rape and incest, and suggested that requiring child support from the moment of conception could have tragic consequences.
“What about if it’s the girl’s father? What if it’s a rape? What if it’s the neighbor next door?” Carol Morgan, a counselor and author, wrote.
Another person wrote: “This would just lead to more men murdering pregnant women, which is already not uncommon.”
However, some were supportive of the plan.
“He’s almost onto something with that,” one person wrote. “I’ve been saying if they insist that life starts at conception, men need to be paying child support at conception. Make the testing free. And demand back pay.”
Newsweek has contacted DeSantis’ office and campaign for comment via email.