- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2020

Republican lawmakers aiming to curb government-subsidized abortions by defining the practice as not health care face a stiff battle from pro-choice proponents in the medical community, who consider the move reprehensible.

Senate Republicans are pushing legislation arguing that the IRS should not categorize abortions as medical care, recognizing the future of government-subsidized abortions depends on whether the practice is defined as a medical procedure or not.

The “Abortion Is Not Health Care Act of 2020” seeks to undo the tax-deductibility of abortions and is led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee with 15 GOP co-sponsors in the Senate. Companion legislation in the House was introduced last year by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

“Ending this loophole is an important step toward promoting a culture that values life,” co-sponsor Sen. David Perdue said in a statement. “As a father and grandfather, I believe every child is a blessing and will continue to protect the unborn.”

One major hurdle for the Republican effort will be health care advocacy groups and pro-choice proponents. The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest association of physicians, does not support the proposal.

The American Medical Association pointed to its policy that “abortion is a medical procedure,” which the group said it has adhered to since 1973, the year the Supreme Court recognized the right to obtain an abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision.

Pro-choice groups overwhelmingly agree with the medical association’s assessment. Dr. Kristyn Brandi, chairwoman of the Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement that women wanting abortions should not face “extra costs and stigma.”

“The fact is that abortion is health care,” Ms. Brandi said. “It’s a medical procedure and it should be treated like other health care procedures. The people who need abortion care in our country should be able to get care without obstacles or shame.”

The National Abortion Federation views the politicians pushing the legislation as vindictive.

“Once again, anti-choice politicians are trying to do everything in their power to make things more difficult for people simply trying to do what is best for themselves and their families,” said the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, National Abortion Federation president, in a statement. “This bill would increase the tax burden on the 1-in-4 women who will obtain abortion care by the time they’re 45 years old. The sponsors of this bill should be ashamed of themselves.”

The legislation’s sponsors have worked closely with influential pro-life advocates on the opposite side of the issue. March for Life Action helped the House develop its legislation, which was endorsed by such groups as Heritage Action for America, Concerned Women for America and the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops.

If the federal government answers the question of whether abortion is a medical procedure, the result may have a longer-term effect on access to abortion than will skirmishes arising in state legislatures and squabbles about Supreme Court precedent.

The battle over taxpayer funding for abortions is already spilling over into the 2020 campaign season.

The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List has said it will spend $41 million in the 2020 election cycle, while pro-choice Planned Parenthood has pledged to invest a minimum of $45 million in 2020 battleground states.

Taxpayer funding is a key revenue stream for the abortion providers at Planned Parenthood, as its 2019 annual report revealed record-high taxpayer funding of nearly $617 million.

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