Tax Credits for Fetuses, But Not Children: The Latest Republican Travesty

Last week Republicans in the Michigan state legislature held a hearing on House bills 5684 and 5685, which would create a new tax credit for unborn fetuses past twelve weeks of gestation.  One of the bill’s sponsors, Republican Jud Gilbert, noted that the law would recognize “the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of.”

What seems like an innocuous little tax credit is actually the epitome of everything wrong with the conservative wing of the Republican Party right now.

For one, it quite literally shows that Republicans do not care about children after they’re born. Just last year, Michigan Republicans eliminated a state tax credit for children. Policy groups report this cut caused the families of 9,000 children in Michigan to fall below the poverty line. How can leaders of a supposed “moral movement” support benefits for fetuses, but cuts for children with any honesty or integrity?

The real, nefarious purpose of this new $5 to $10 million dollar tax break is to create a back door way for Michigan Republicans to pass an extreme fetal personhood measure. "In our view these bills are an attempt to give some legal recognition to the unborn in tax law, which would then be used as a reason to give legal recognition to the unborn in other contexts such as in criminal law or in health law," said Mary Pollock of the National Organization of Women's Michigan chapter. "And so they are a not so subtle reason to establish personhood for a fetus at 12 weeks gestation so that abortion could be banned or punished thereafter."

No other state has a tax credit for fetuses. Some states provide a tax credit for families that suffer a still-birth; Michigan passed one in 2006, but it was later repealed.

This is just another example of Republicans in state legislatures who are ignoring the results of the 2012 election. Five anti-choice state legislators were replaced by Planned Parenthood endorsed candidates in Michigan, including the backer of Michigan’s highly controversial abortion omnibus bill — Deb Shaughnessy. 

The voters told legislators that they want them to stop messing around with women’s health and reproductive freedoms. Unfortunately, Michigan Republicans seem to have missed the message.

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Alison Tanner

Alison is a recent graduate of the University of California - Davis, where she studied political science and women's studies and served the student body as an ASUCD Senator. She is currently a legal assistant for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. Views expressed here are her own.

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