Pregnant women in the U.S. state of Georgia will be able to deduct their dependent fetuses from their taxes under the 2019 anti-abortion law, which a judge allowed to go into effect last month, the state said in a statement.
This week, the state tax agency said that any woman whose fetus is found to have a heartbeat as of July 20, the date of the judgment, can receive a $4,350 personal tax credit per fetus if she is carrying more than one fetus. .
The Georgia Department of Revenue did not provide details, such as what happens if a pregnancy ends in a miscarriage during the tax year. The agency said it will issue additional guidance later in 2022.
The law allowing the deduction was part of the so-called fetal heart rate bill passed three years ago in Georgia to ban abortion after a fetal heart is detected, typically around six weeks of gestation.
This bill, which also allowed women to collect fetal support, was one of many prohibitions and restrictions on abortion that could not go into effect for many years—as long as the United States constitution was interpreted as protecting the right to abortion.
After the new conservative super-majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned these protections, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, the Georgia law was allowed to go into effect.
Allowing pregnant women to claim their fetuses as dependents is an idea that has been supported by some in the anti-abortion movement for years. Bills allowing this have been introduced at the federal level at least twice.
Arizona passed a similar law, but enforcement of the law granting “personality” to the fetus was blocked by the court, said Elizabeth Nash, who studies public abortion policy for the Guttmacher Institute, which campaigns for abortion rights.
Georgia’s tax move is the broadest interpretation of the embryonic personality that has been adopted so far, she said through a spokeswoman.
The Georgia American Civil Liberties Union, which is one of several groups filing a lawsuit to block the law, said that while tax breaks are welcome, it is dangerous to endow an embryo with a full personality.
“We are all for measures to support pregnant women, through tax credits or otherwise. What is dangerous and confusing is Georgia’s attempt to treat the embryo from the very first days of pregnancy as a person with rights equivalent to those of a pregnant woman,” said Julia Kay, an attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
The Georgia Department of Revenue did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment or clarification.
Kansas votes for abortion rights in the US
Meanwhile, voters in the midwestern state of Kansas headed to the polls on Tuesday to voice their opinion on the first major vote on abortion since the Supreme Court struck down the national right to the procedure in June.
The vote has dire consequences for Kansas, which will decide whether abortion rights should be removed from the traditionally conservative state’s constitution.
But it’s also being seen as a test of abortion rights across the country as Republican-dominated legislatures rush to impose strict bans on the procedure following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Turnout after the polls opened was high, according to Marsha Barrett, a polling station worker, who said about 250 voters had turned up at the Olathe polling station by noon, the same number you would see in an entire day in a presidential election.
“This election is crazy,” Barrett told AFP. “People are determined to vote.”
Other states, including California and Kentucky, are due to vote on the thorny issue in November, in conjunction with the midterm congressional elections, in which both Republicans and Democrats hope to use them to mobilize supporters across the country.
US Justice Department sues Idaho to protect access to abortion
The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to protect access to abortion, the first case since the Supreme Court overturned the procedure’s legal guarantees.
The lawsuit against Idaho seeks to force a conservative western state to perform emergency abortions on women in hospitals that receive Medicare funding from the government.
Idaho is one of several states to impose a near total ban on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in June that affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion.
US President Joe Biden condemned the decision of the Supreme Court and promised to do everything in his power to ensure access to abortion.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the lawsuit seeks to protect women’s rights to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law.
The Justice Department said the Idaho law, due to go into effect Aug. 25, conflicts with the Emergency Medical Services and Labor Act (EMTALA) passed by Congress.
EMTALA allows abortion in situations where the procedure is a “necessary stabilizing treatment for a medical emergency.”
Study finds 43 US clinics have stopped offering abortions
At least 43 clinics in the US stopped offering abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to the procedure, according to a study released July 29.
In the month since the landmark June 24 ruling, 11 states have banned abortion either after six weeks of pregnancy or at all, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion affordability.
As a result, the institute estimates that 43 clinics, including 23 in Texas alone, five in Oklahoma, and five in Alabama, have closed or refocused their resources on other forms of treatment.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, also known as the Pink House, which was at the center of the Supreme Court case, closed on July 7 after being the only place to perform abortions in Mississippi for a long time.
“The already dire situation with access to abortion in many parts of the country will continue to worsen, with more states enacting abortion bans in the coming weeks and months,” the study authors write.
Some states, such as Louisiana or North Dakota, have anti-abortion laws, but legal battles have slowed the adoption of these new rules.
Others, such as Indiana, called special sessions of the state Congress to pass new legislation.
Half of all US states, especially the largely conservative South and Midwest, are expected to eventually ban abortion.