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House to Vote on Abortion Tax Bill

May 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Under current law, no federal funding can be used for abortions except in cases of incest or rape. But that fact isn’t stopping House Republicans from using the false premise of blocking federal funding for abortions to push legislation that would use the tax code to make it harder for women to use their own money to finance abortion services. Their misleadingly-titled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” is lined up for a vote today, and, with 227 co-sponsors, it is expected to pass.

Under the bill, any individual — regardless of sex — who uses their own money to purchases a health insurance plan that includes coverage of elective abortion services would not be allowed to any deduct health care costs from their income tax bill. And if a woman uses funds from a tax-free Medical Savings Account or other flexible pre-tax plan, she would be required to report the money spent on abortion services as taxable income. Additionally, small businesses that receive tax credits for providing health insurance for their employees would see their taxes go up if they fail to choose a plan that does not cover abortions. These provisions would be enforced by the IRS, which means that if you’re a woman and you get audited, be ready to prove to government investigators that you did not have an abortion over the past year.

Ultimately, this isn’t just about punishing women who have abortions, it’s about making safe abortions virtually unavailable. If individuals can’t deduct their health care costs, they will stop purchasing insurance that covers abortions and market forces will cause insurance companies to drop abortion coverage for all plans. And when the new health care law takes effect, insurance plans that cover abortion services would not be allowed to be sold through the new insurance exchanges, which, under the health care law will be the only places individuals can purchase qualifying health coverage to avoid the hefty tax penalty under the individual mandate.

The whole bill is premised on the idea that money is fungible. So, all income that individuals are allowed to keep due to some tax credit or other are considered “federal funds.” David Waldman at Daily Kos makes a convincing argument that setting this precedent of using fungibility to deny tax credits means that the same argument can be made to essentially raise taxes on any groups Congress wants to target — health benefits won through collective bargaining, same-sex partner benefits, etc.

The bill is being brought to the floor under a closed rule, which means that no amendments can be offered. The debate time is being limited to 60 minutes and all points of order against the procedure of substance of the bill are being waived.

UPDATE: This passed the House, 251-175.

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Comments

itiswhatitisnt 02/12/2012 8:07pm

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fakk2 05/06/2011 1:11pm

@yost,

Yeah, I remember the congressional bill that had that language and was changed, no idea a state bill was proposed though. I’m glad the people protested, it makes no sense to have that type of language in a bill because it’s almost undefineable. Too bad we can’t post FOIA and ORR letters and replies we get on here regarding these bills. It’d be awesome if OC partnered with MuckRock for a deeper involvement in changing and monitoring our congress and government in general.

yost 05/06/2011 11:26am

I think there was language in a proposed state bill from North Dakota that distinguished between date-rape and forcible rape, but was changed after people, and reasonably so, protested.

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emoney77 05/06/2011 12:24am

Shouldn’t we be more worried about the reasons for abortions in the first place, such as defining the term “forceable rape”? As it stands now a woman that is date raped, drugged, under the influence of alcohol or the victim of incest and over the age of consent and becomes pregnant will not have the same opportunities for abortive services as a woman raped at gun point and becomes pregnant. In either circumstance is the rape less real? If you think so, tell that to the victim! Is the woman any less pregnant? This is allowing the government too much control over our freedoms as people that live in a sovereign nation. Let’s think about the long term consequences.

wstaff 05/05/2011 1:26pm

How about getting people back to work and stop this stupidity of passing Bills that do nothing in putting the economy back into a better light. 5 Months into the new Congress and either side has not bugged to get the economy back into the green. Pathetic or sheer laziness? I would have to safe a little of both.

Americans are happy watching their taxes being wasted away on useless Bills or
in my eyes seem to be, because I have yet herd one political person stand up and say enough is enough. Lord knows the the ability to talk out of both sides of their mouth is being displayed in full forum. America will never stand on its own and seldom find individuals standing up and telling Congress or the President to get things in Order Now and stop wasting tax payer dollars. The ability to help other countries and nobody in our own country is truly the worst display of what it means to hold your own before preaching to the masses. Disgusting tactics need to stop……

jlohman 05/05/2011 9:24am

This whole discussion is so stupid. No, I do not want tax dollars used for abortions unless to save the mother’s life. But I have no objection to the mother buying coverage that provides for same. But more so, I want those stupid, corrupt politicians to stay out of our bedrooms and quit micromanaging our lives.

Jack Lohman
http://MoneyedPoliticians.net

textdog 05/04/2011 10:00pm

what does the church stuff mean? dont get how that relates.

jimlamb 05/04/2011 1:47pm

Churches operate tax free so, according to the same logic used to justify this bill, we are “giving” them money. Oh, and the Federal Government does operate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program

hondapcgirl 05/04/2011 11:46am

Don’t give money to local churches that are feeding the hungry because that would be using tax dollars to promote a religion, but give money to the local women’s clinic that helps women even though they provide abortions. That seems hypocritical to me. If you’re paying for the electricity, building, staff, etc, you’re paying for abortions.

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