Abortion Audits, Care of the GOP

[Trigger warning for hostility to agency and bodily autonomy.]

The Republican Party is absolutely out of control. As if further evidence was needed that the corporate takeover of the US government was complete, the fact that the GOP isn't even pretending to be remotely reasonable anymore underscores how utterly confident they are that they don't need to persuade voters now that they can just buy elections.

The latest complication in their unfettered onslaught against people with uteri? Abortion audits.
Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they'd have to determine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.

The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.

"Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest," says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. "If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it."
Apart from the obvious breach of privacy this would create for women/trans men who had abortions, compelling IRS agents to discuss sexual violence with taxpayers quite evidently risks exposing survivors to potentially triggering work, at a job where such an expectation is wildly inappropriate.

There is so much wrong with this single bill, it's almost incomprehensible.

I know the president has a lot on his plate right now, but he really needs to find the time to be the ally to half the population of this country that we were promised he would be. We need loud and prominent opposition, and we need it now.

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