In Michigan, HB 5684 and HB 5685 are bills that would give tax breaks to fetuses. Yes, to fetuses. Under these bills, any woman who is carrying a fetus over 12 weeks would get tax breaks in excess of 4,000.00. These bills are nothing more than cloaked "personhood" bills, as they assign personhood status to the fetus for the purposes of tax deductions. HB 5684, sponsored by State Representative Lisa Lyons (R), reads as follows:
Sec. 30e. As used in section 30(3) 30, "dependent" means an individual for whom the taxpayer may claim a dependency exemption on the taxpayer's federal income tax return pursuant to the internal revenue code. DEPENDENT INCLUDES A FETUS THAT HAS, ASDETERMINED BY A PHYSICIAN, COMPLETED AT LEAST 12 WEEKS OF GESTATION AS OF THE LAST DAY OF THE TAX YEAR, AND THAT HAS BEEN UNDER THE CARE AND OBSERVATION OF A PHYSICIAN SINCE AT LEAST 12 WEEKS OFGESTATION. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION:
(A) "FETUS" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL ORGANISM OF THE SPECIES HOMO SAPIENS AT ANY TIME BEFORE COMPLETE DELIVERY FROM A PREGNANT WOMAN.
(B) "PHYSICIAN" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL LICENSED TO ENGAGE IN THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE OR THE PRACTICE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE AND SURGERY UNDER ARTICLE 15 OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH CODE, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.16101 TO 333.18838.
The fact they had to define that the fetus has to be from "homo sapiens" leaves a lot to imagine (would a woman be carrying a dog, or a kitten?), and the amount of paperwork necessary to verify that said woman is in fact over 12 weeks, to be verified (no doubt there's a state form for that), by a physician as named above, seems to imply that it would cost a fair amount of state money to actually implement these laws. (HB 5685 is a complementary bill regarding adjusted gross income to include fetuses as dependents). Both bills are tied together, meaning both would have to be passed to be implemented.
And in fact, the House Fiscal Agency stated in a report that these bills alone would reduce income tax revenue (i.e. cost millions).
As written, the bills would initially be expected to reduce individual income tax revenue
by an estimated $5.0 million to $10.0 million on an annual basis.
Reproductive Health Reality Check adds that apparently the results of the election did not dissuade Michigan Republicans from abstaining on their war on women:
When she first heard about the new proposal to offer a $160 tax credit to any woman who was at least 12 weeks pregnant at the end of the year, Democratic Representative Barb Byrum found the idea incomprehensible.
"Clearly they learned nothing in June from 'vagina-gate,'" Rep. Byrum told RH Reality Check, referring to the summer's omnibus abortion bill debate, where multiple female House members were silenced by their Republican counterparts for daring to say the word "vagina" on the floor.
"Again, the Republicans are so out of touch," Rep. Byrum continued. "We need to be focused on creating jobs in the state. Last year, we voted to eliminate the child tax credit, which is about $600 a child on one hand, and now we are planning to give $160 credit to a fetus? This is absurd."
Just as confusing is the lack of clarity as to how one would even go about claiming the "fetal credit." "Some of the questions I have is would there be an affidavit from a doctor? Would a woman require an ultrasound to confirm the fetus had reached 12 weeks? What considerations would there be for a woman if the pregnancy was terminated? This is just bizarre."
Considering the costs that even the state of Michigan admits the bills would incur, this seems to be yet another attempt to open the door to personhood bills. Yet Republican State Representative Judd Gilbert, the sponsor of HB 5485, claims it is a benign bill that would actually help women pay the expenses associated with having a child:
"You’re recognizing the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of," Gilbert said of the rationale behind allowing fetuses to be claimed as income tax exemptions. "Money saved there could be contributed to doctor’s bills and all kinds of things."
Mary Pollock of the Michigan chapter of NOW disagrees:
"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."