EDITORIAL: Stealth attack on legal abortion has no place in a tax plan

SHARE EDITORIAL: Stealth attack on legal abortion has no place in a tax plan

The Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington. | Alex Brandon/AP

About that Republican tax plan. We have ridiculed it in previous editorials because it would make the rich richer, the poor poorer and, soon enough, slice through the wallets of Middle America.

We should also mention its inexplicable stealth attack on safe and legal abortion.

That provision, perhaps as much as any tax cut, is what got some conservative Republicans to get on board.


The word “abortion” doesn’t actually appear in the bill. House Republicans instead crafted a rule to allow tax-free college savings plans called 529 accounts to be opened for fetuses. The idea is to carve into federal law the notion that life begins at conception, as Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet pointed out on Tuesday.

As Sweet wrote, “It is really an anti-abortion-related ploy in disguise.”

We’ll add that it is deceitful. Any change in a public policy so divisive begs for a full national debate, with no strings attached to a tax bill.

In allowing college savings accounts for fetuses, the House bill says “the term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero. The term ‘child in utero’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.”

That language didn’t make it in the Senate bill, but it doesn’t mean it is going away. Republicans in the House and Senate are in the process of finalizing the legislation.

Already, people can open savings accounts for babies that aren’t yet born. Parents or other family members can open the accounts in their own names and change beneficiaries later. This new law, if we’re really talking about saving for college, is not even needed.

At least twice in the GOP tax proposals, conservatives are attempting to ram through a social agenda in the guise of tax reform. The Senate version of the GOP plan would repeal the Obamacare “individual mandate” that requires people to have health insurance or pay penalty. The mandate is vital to keeping health care affordable.

And, with the tax-free savings plan language, they are going after legal abortion.

We can only wonder what else is hidden in the deepest recesses of this mess of a tax plan.

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