The real reason Republicans want to give tax breaks for embryos

By | June 5, 2023

Rolling Stone reports:

Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature introduced a package of bills this week to “clarify” the state’s abortion ban, 174 years after it became law. The 1849 ban, which criminalizes abortion in every circumstance, except to save the pregnant person’s life, went back into effect last June after 50 years of obsolescence.

It’s a deeply unpopular law: By margins of 2 to 1, voters said it should be repealed in every single county where the question was on the ballot this April. (In a statewide judicial election held the same day, the pro-choice candidate — who, it is widely assumed, will vote to strike the ban down when it is challenged at the state Supreme Court next term — won by 11 points.)

But Republicans in Wisconsin can’t seem to grasp this obvious truth. Rather than repeal the 1849 ban, as Democrats have proposed, a group of GOP lawmakers — led by 32-year old Sen. Romaine Quinn — touted a total of four bills they hope will make the pre-Civil War law more palatable to modern Wisconsinites. Included in the package is an offer that has become trendy among antiabortion ideologues: tax breaks for embryos.

LRB-2486 would allow parents to claim an exemption on their tax returns for “unborn children for whom a fetal heartbeat has been detected.” Co-sponsor Rep. Donna Rozar made the proposal’s intent crystal clear: The bill, she said, “recognizes an unborn child as a distinct human being prior to birth by allowing the child to be claimed as a dependent.” The point isn’t to support Wisconsin families — the point is to change the definition of when life begins as part of an effort to enshrine in Wisconsin law the dangerous and dehumanizing concept of “fetal personhood.”

It’s all part of an effort to extend Constitutional rights to fertilized eggs — a legal theory that simultaneously revokes the rights of the individuals carrying those pregnancies.

Wisconsin Republicans aren’t the first to try this: Georgia’s Department of Revenue announced in August “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” could be claimed as a dependent on state tax returns. The representative behind Georgia’s LIFE Act, which created the tax break, later admitted in a leaked video that the credit was all part of a gambit to get the Supreme Court to recognize fetal personhood: “We’re going to take this to the highest court in the land.”

The consequences of a ruling recognizing fetal personhood are difficult to overstate: The moment that an embryo is recognized as a person with rights, virtually any behavior that poses any kind of risk to a pregnancy can be criminalized or litigated. [Continue reading…]

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