Lawmakers Are Using Tax Reform Legislation to Push an Anti-Abortion Agenda

In the latest draft of the GOP’s tax reform bill, lawmakers outlined a provision that would enable the naming of fetuses as beneficiaries of 529 college savings plans. The policy, and the language accompanying it, could codify the anti-abortion notion of “personhood” into law.

Trish N / Creative Commons

In the tax bill, lawmakers defined the term “child in utero” as “a member of the species of homo sapiens at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” This definition aligns with repeated anti-abortion efforts to pass personhood legislation and grant constitutional rights to fetuses.

The new provision is unnecessary, as expectant parents currently have the option of opening a 529 account during gestation and naming a new beneficiary upon birth. The real underlying cause for the amendment is clear: This is a blatant attempt to define life as beginning at conception and put abortion rights in danger.

“This is a back door attempt to establish personhood from the moment of conception,” claimed Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). “What’s next, giving a social security number to a zygote?”

The GOP’s plan for tax reform has already been exposed as a pushback against civil liberties. The legislative package wages war on key Affordable Care Act regulations surrounding reproductive rights. It proposes $1.5 trillion in cuts to funding for such programs as Medicare and Medicaid, and eliminations to key tax exemptions on healthcare for the elderly and disabled, repealing an effective medical expense deduction which allows individuals to write off out-of-pocket health care costs. But despite the Trump administration’s eager profession of the fiscal benefits of such reforms, the Treasury Department found that the current health exemptions cost the federal government $10 billion a year, while the plan to afford such tax breaks to large corporations would result in $225 billion a year in lost revenue.

The 529 modification to the tax bill is merely the latest in a slew of attempts by congressional lawmakers to propel an anti-abortion agenda. Last week, the House conducted a hearing on legislation that would ban abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy; earlier this month, the Trump administration unveiled new regulations which would allow employers, universities and even entire insurance companies to opt out of contraceptive coverage for their beneficiaries by citing religious or moral objections.

But the insertion of personhood language into the tax bill can’t be lost in the mix. This insidious attack on reproductive rights will endanger women’s lives. According to a spokesperson for NARAL Pro Choice America, the GOP’s proposal “is just the latest example of how they’re trying to turn back the clock on this country.”

Sarah Alexander is a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. In addition to being a writer, she is a visual and performing artist, and attempts to use film, music and online platforms to spark conversation about social activism. She is an anomalous LA native, which affects her personality in a plethora of unique ways.

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