House GOP Simultaneously Pushes for New Abortion Ban and End to Adoption Tax Credit

House Republicans are simultaneously pushing an abortion ban and the end of a tax credit that helps families adopt.

Fridley, Minnesota, Unity hospital,  Fetal monitor, The monitor is checking the maternal vital signs of a woman getting ready to have a baby,  . (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
A fetal monitor at a hospital in Fridley, Minn. Photo: Education Images/UIG/Getty Images

House Republican lawmakers are sponsoring legislation that would prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a heartbeat is detected. In fact, 169 lawmakers — all are Republicans but one — have co-sponsored the bill, known as the “Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017.”

The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on the bill this week, with House Republicans promoting it in the context of the anti-abortion movement. “It is important that Congress passes such a strong pro-life bill now because President Trump will hopefully appoint one or two more justices to the Supreme Court, making this a profound moment in the pro-life movement,” Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said at the Wednesday hearing.

At the same time, the Republican tax proposal released Thursday would make it more difficult for American parents to turn to what many anti-abortion groups offer as an alternative: adoption.

The House Republican tax reform bill would completely eliminate the adoption tax credit, which has been in the tax code since 1997. It was a bipartisan achievement pushed through by former Texas Republican Rep. Bill Archer, who was chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Designed to help cover “reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses,” the credit is available for up to $13,460 per child.

Some employers also offer adoption assistance in the form of financial aid and paid leave time. As of now, this type of assistance is tax-exempt, but the proposed bill would make such benefits subject to taxation.

The bill would also make adoption assistance from employers — which usually takes the form of financial aid and paid leave time — taxable.

Advocates for adoption reacted with scorn to the Republican plan.

“RESOLVE and its advocates are outraged at this action,” Barbara Collura, president and chief executive officer of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, said in a statement. “The Adoption Tax Credit, a credit for middle-income Americans to help offset their costs associated with adopting a child, could be gone.”

Republicans cut a number of tax credits to bring down the cost of the bill, offsetting the cost of tax cuts for the very rich. For instance, the bill also calls for reducing the corporate tax rate to just 20 percent.

By supporting the tax framework, GOP lawmakers have made a value judgment: Reducing taxes for the wealthiest citizens is more important than helping defray the costs of adoption for Americans. And as adoptions become more difficult, the number of abortions is likely to rise.

Correction: November 3, 2017, 3:43 p.m.
A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the adoption tax credit is for up to $5,000 per child. The tax credit is in fact for up to $13,460 per child. Additionally, this story was updated to include information about how the bill would make employer assistance to adopting parents taxable.

Top photo: A fetal monitor at a hospital in Fridley, Minn.

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