Georgia tries to bribe residents into not getting abortions, offers tax benefits for fetusesAugust 3, 2022
The guidance is based on the state’s abortion ban, which bans abortion after six weeks. According to the state’s ban— which passed in 2019 but went into effect after the overturning of Roe v. Wade— once a fetus displays a heartbeat, it is considered a “dependent minor.”
This new bill addressing the alleged tax benefits of not having an abortion was amongst abortion and reproductive health-related bills that were not allowed to go into effect until after SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Prior to SCOTUS’ decision, the bill was deemed unconstitutional. However, once the higher court’s decision to remove federal protections for the right to abortion went into effect, a federal appeals court cleared the way for Georgia’s abortion ban to become law and agreed that “personhood” could be redefined to include fetuses.
“Similar to any other deduction claimed on an income tax return, relevant medical records or other supporting documentation shall be provided to support the dependent deduction claimed if requested by the Department,” the guidance said.
At this time, the law does not criminalize “spontaneous abortion” or abortion in “medically futile” cases, including ectopic pregnancy. While the Georgia Department of Revenue did not provide details as to what happens if the pregnancy claimed ends in miscarriage during the tax year, experts have noted that this law may spark discussions on what classifies as tax fraud.
According to The Washington Post, the agency said it would issue further guidance later in 2022.
Georgia’s tax move is seen as the broadest interpretation of fetal personhood to be enacted in the country thus far. In other states, the discussion of whether an unborn child qualifies for benefits is still being debated. In one incident related to the issue, a Texas woman made nationwide headlines for fighting a ticket by arguing her unborn child qualifies her to ride in the HOV lane.
Advocates on both sides have commented on the new bill, noting the consequences it may have.
The ACLU of Georgia, which is suing to block the state’s abortion ban, said that while a tax break is welcome, it is dangerous to grant full “personhood” to an embryo.
“We are all for measures to support pregnant people, through tax credits or otherwise. What’s dangerous and confusing is Georgia’s attempt to treat an embryo from the earliest days of pregnancy as a person with rights equivalent to those of the pregnant person,” Julia Kaye, an attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.
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