SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A new law makes Utah the first state in the nation to require fathers to pay half of a woman’s pregnancy costs before the baby is born.

On Monday,  the leader of a local pro-life group told ABC4 it’s a huge help to women in vulnerable circumstances and their unborn children.

The recently signed “Shared Medical Costs” law requires biological fathers to pay half the cost of the mother’s medical care and health insurance during pregnancy, should she decide to ask for it. Attorney, author, and pro-life activist Merrilee Boyack calls it a “great law” that will reduce the number of abortions in Utah.

“We are hoping that it will save lives,” Boyack said. “The vast majority choose abortion out of pressure from boyfriends, from family members et cetera so we’re hoping this gives one more resource for us to advise women and say ‘You have this alternative to be able to cover the costs…It allows her to reach out and get the support to help pay the expenses during that pregnancy. A lot of times that’s the one thing that may make the difference of a woman deciding to give birth to her baby.”

However, Planned Parenthood of Utah spokeswoman Katrina Barker says those payments are minimal in comparison to the long-term costs of parenting, stating, “In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money.”

Raising a child can cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars, not including college.

Boyack points out that a woman still has the option of putting her baby up for adoption and says it’s appropriate that Utah is the first state to pass this type of law.

“I love that it shows we’re a champion for women,” she said. “It shows that we’re sensitive to the needs of the women who find themselves in these circumstances. That we want to encourage them to be able to have the support they need to be able to give birth to their babies. I think it fits quite beautifully with who we are as a state and who we are as a people.”