There are few people I can imagine wanting to discuss my reproductive life less with than the IRS, but if a new bill passes the House (and it's expected to), anyone who has an abortion and is then audited may be doing just that.
The proposed law, which is also known as H.R. 3, would extend the Hyde Amendment, which effectively makes federal funding for abortion verboten except where there is evidence of rape, incest, or potential harm to the mother. In some cases, the new law would refuse people the right to use their tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion.
None of this matters, of course, unless you're audited and had an abortion. If that is the case, taxpayers will be forced to prove that their abortion happened because of rape or incest or the life-of-the-mother exception; otherwise they're in trouble.
This is despicable for so many reasons, it's hard to know where to start.
Perhaps most egregiously, this law would take away a woman's right to be private about her rape or incest. She has to report it and "prove" her rape, which leads to a whole host of other questions: what happens if the man gets off in a trial? What happens if she doesn't want to go through a trial or report it? How does one "prove" rape? It isn't like rapists provide a receipt of rape after they violently assault a woman. To even suggest that this is possible is so punitive, it's maddening.
In addition to being difficult to prove, it also only punishes women. Do men also have to prove their girlfriend (or wife) was raped if they paid for an abortion? If so, how is that even possible? It seems the only people this law would hurt are the ones with the uterus. It's stunning that in this day and age, something this archaic and sexist could pass.
What is most outrageous is that the Republican-backed bill would say what taxpayers are allowed to do with their OWN money. Now the government can tell us how to spend our own money? It's insane and moves us one step closer to making abortion illegal. I would think that even those who are anti-choice could at least understand that once we allow the government to say what we can and can't spend our own money on, we're going to have to let a lot of things slide.
So forgive me if this really, really bothers me. I don't want them auditing me or my uterus, thank you very much. According to Mother Jones, the proposal is a top priority for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The new Republican Congress has 221 cosponsors and the bill is expected to pass the House easily. Even the IRS doesn't want to have to do this. Marcus Owens, an accountant and former longtime IRS official, told Mother Jones:
I don't think [IRS agents] enjoy prying around into those sorts of private matters. You can't ask people to go out and ask some woman about what the circumstances are surrounding her abortion. They just won't do it.
If even the IRS is questioning whether this is a good plan, maybe the Republicans ought to rethink their disastrous, sexist, archaic, pathetic attack on the basic rights we hold as women and taxpayers. "Despicable" doesn't even begin to cover it.
Do you find this awful?
Image via sekimura/Flickr