Tax Reform and Abortion Language

Rosalie Mitchell, Staff Reporter

During the debate of the 2017 tax reforms, one phrase was included that could have big implications on future legislation. Hidden in the proposals is a line that would allow a “child in utero” to be named as a college savings beneficiary. The proposal made it through the House and even made it into the Senate bill, though it did not pass in the final version of the senate text. While this may seem small, it is weighty. Some claimed this verbiage attempted at giving rights and benefits to fetuses– the rights of people, which they are not. Fetuses currently do not have personhood until they are born and their lives begin. By attempting to give fetuses personhood, this puts the right to legal abortion in question. If lawmakers decided that unborn children have the right to money, it is not a stretch to say that they would decide that they deserve “Pro-life” protection.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled during the Roe v. Wade case that having a safe and legal abortion was a right in America. Since then, there has always been Pro-life groups claiming that since an unborn child has no say in the matter, they deserve the right to life. However, women deserve the right to control their lives and plan their futures. This tax legislation, by asserting fetuses are people, could serve to pave the way in the attempt to undo this. Many believe that this is a republican-democrat issue, with republicans leading the “Pro-life” charge and democrats with the “Pro-choice” side. With the senate and house majority being republican this year, perhaps this may hold some truth.  

But what do Oregonians think of the issue? Jessica Stanton of Oregon Right to Life says that issues like these are constantly affecting the lives of Americans. “Undoubtedly this issue will come up again in the upcoming year,” she said of abortion legislation. “Every day in the state of Oregon, babies will be aborted, and these are lives. So the issue of abortion is ongoing and definitely effects lives.” For many, the rights and treatment of unborn children are a priority issue, and the tax bill is not seen as something that undermines abortion, just provides a future for the children in question. Since federal legislation impacts all states, Oregon residents are directly impacted by the proposal, with Pro-choice people being the most opinionated about it.

Nicole Whit, a Clackamas resident, said “I hope that proposals like this do not continue to happen. I feel like it could eventually reach a point where women’s reproductive rights are being more directly attacked instead of just attempts to establish personhood. It could mean big things for later on.” If Whit’s concerns came to fruition, it could spell trouble for reproductive rights. If the bill had passed in Senate in  2017, it would have been a step towards establishing personhood. If legislature decides to continue to include clauses like this in future bills, and fetuses did have personhood established, it potentially could spell the end of safe and legal abortion in the United States. A fetus would be a person, meaning it would have the rights of life, and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the government.

A clause buried deep in a tax bill caused one of the largest debates of 2017- so what is upcoming in 2018? What will we see in Congress next? No matter a person’s stance on the issue, it is best for citizens to stay aware of government actions because we will likely see abortion come into the picture during 2018, so by staying aware, citizens can defend their rights, and the rights of others.