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AZ House passes bill to expand when child support payments start

Arizona House Republicans have approved expanding when child support has to be paid — but some Democrats say this bill is really designed to outlaw abortion.

Current law says courts, when making an initial award, can make it retroactive to the date when a divorce or support proceeding was filed.  HB 2502would require judges to go back even farther, to the "date of a positive pregnancy test confirmed by a licensed health care professional.''

Democratic Rep. Analise Ortiz says this would create "fetal personhood.''

“When we start talking about prescribing rights into law that determine that a fetus is entitled to more rights than a pregnant person, we are setting the stage for an outright ban on abortion," Ortiz said. 

The bill’s sponsor Republican Matt Gress has been criticized for this before with other bills he has proposed this session. He says that’s not his intention. He wants to provide resources for families. The bill now goes to the Senate.

But Brittany Fonteno, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, says there’s a big catch.

“We know that these bills are just another anti-abortion attack and really specifically the bills such as the tax cut credit bill, that is really just a back-door attempt at trying to establish fetal personhood," Fonteno said.

While Fonteno is confident Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs would veto bills like these, she says they’re still harmful. 

“They’re furthering an inaccurate narrative. They are using inflammatory language and really designed to prompt an attack against all of our rights," Fonteno said.

Gress has sponsored  some of the bills criticized by Planned Parenthood and legislative Democrats.

Gress denies he’s trying to establish fetal personhood, and says his only intention is to provide families with resources to cover costs incurred during pregnancy.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.