Michigan Republicans prove a fetus is more valuable than a child, introduce fetal personhood legislation


They love you until you’re born

It’s getting pretty tough for Michigan Republicans to surprise me anymore but, dammit, they went ahead and did it anyway. This week, they introduced legislation that establishes a tax credit for unborn fetuses.

I’m not kidding.

Earlier this year, these same Republicans repealed a $600 per child tax credit but now they want a tax credit for unborn fetuses.

Michigan lawmakers may consider allowing a fetus of at least 12 weeks to qualify as a dependent for state income tax purposes — a move that if put into law might be the first of its kind in the nation.

House Bills 5684 and 5685 were given a hearing in the House Tax Policy Committee on Tuesday. And critics quickly question its motives, saying it appeared to be a back door way to try and crack down on abortions.

Farmington Hills Democrat Representative Vicki Barnett testified today at a House Committee on Tax Policy hearing on the bills and issued this statement:

There are so many things wrong with this bill it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s just ridiculous that the same people who ended the child tax credit for Michigan residents last year are now proposing a credit for fetuses. This obvious political stunt is yet another clear example of how out-of-touch the Republican majority is with mainstream Michiganders, and a startling indicator of how far they are willing to go to appease their extreme right-wing base.

Another Democrat also testified, Jim Townsend of Royal Oak. He had this to say:

Ensuring sufficient access to prenatal care should be a top priority of our state. Instead, Republican legislators today brought forward a bill to establish fetal personhood in the guise of a tax deduction. This out-of-touch and extreme measure would cause Michigan to stand out like a sore thumb in terms of denying women their sacred right to control their own bodies and their destinies. This bill is a divisive distraction that won’t help pregnant mothers or families or improve Michigan’s economy. If anything, it would signal to the rest of the world that Michigan isn’t ready for the 21st century economy because our social policy is being hijacked by people who want to live in the 19th century.

It’s clear that this is, indeed, an effort to establish fetal personhood. This paves the way for outlawing all abortions and is time-honored ploy by extremist conservative lawmakers. If they are successful, it will be the first such law in the country.

Republicans are putting up a smokescreen that is as transparent as glass.

Parents would be able to claim a dependency exemption for a fetus that has 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 of gestation. The period of gestation would have to be determined by a physician.

Rep. Lisa Lyons of Alto, sponsor of one of the two bills, said the legislation is meant to help pregnant women with the costs of pre-natal care.

“I think it’s a good bill that addresses pre-natal care — it helps promote pre-natal care for pregnant women,” Lyons said Tuesday. “To qualify for the tax exemption a woman has to be 12 weeks pregnant by Dec. 31 and under the care of the physician.”

It clearly has nothing to do with prenatal care. It’s all about creeping toward making abortions illegal in Michigan.

Meanwhile, a new law to replace Public Act 4 — Michigan’s odious anti-democratic Emergency Manager law is being shopped around. This time, it appears, they will include an appropriation in the bill which makes it referendum-proof. In other words, they don’t want a repeat of the downfall of PA 4 which voters repealed on November 6th.

Sadly, although Democrats picked up 5 House seats in the election, Republicans still hold a 6-seat majority so we can expect much more of this throughout the next two years. That makes the 2014 midterm elections in Michigan more important, in some ways, than this year’s election, at least in terms of the Michigan legislature.