Steph Sterling, Director of Government Relations and Senior Advisor
This week, a firestorm erupted over efforts by anti-choice members of Congress to narrow the long-standing “rape” exception to the ban on the use of federal funds for abortion. Hailed by Speaker John Boehner as one of the top priorities for the new Congress, H.R. 3 would allow federal funding for abortion only in circumstances where the woman could prove that she was the victim of “forcible” rape, taking us back to a time when just saying no wasn’t enough. People are outraged—rightly—by this overreach.
But that’s not the only overreach. H.R. 3 purports to be a ban on federal funding for abortion. This ban is punitive and terrible, to be sure, but H.R. 3 goes much, much further than that. The bill would also impose tax penalties on individuals and small businesses with insurance plans that include abortion. That’s right. Tax penalties. As in, people with insurance plans that cover abortion would have to pay higher taxes than people whose health plans don’t. Yep – you heard it right. If your insurance plan covers abortion – even if you never knew it, and even if you never used it – you could face a tax penalty. Depending on what kinds of tax benefits you’re eligible for, it could be substantial.
So what would this mean for a real family? Take a father of three working as an assembly lineman who loses his job when his manufacturing plant closes. Right now, he’s eligible for the Health Coverage Tax Credit to help with the costs of his $13,770 premium. But, because his insurance plan included coverage of abortion—even though he never knew about this benefit and no one in his family ever used it—H.R. 3 would suddenly make him ineligible for the benefit and would cost him $11,236.
Other tax benefits are on the line, too. Right now, a woman who makes $25,000 is eligible to deduct any amount over $1,875 she spends on health expenses, including her insurance premiums, from her taxable income. If H.R. 3 were enacted and her health insurance plan includes coverage of abortion, she would lose a $1,731 deduction. More than 7.5 million families claim this particular medical expense deductions—and each of them would lose the deduction if their plan covers abortion.
Higher taxes for families who have insurance plans that cover abortion. How’s that for overreach?