Monday, November 13, 2017

Pro-Life Policy in the Tax Reform Legislation

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to formulate a rule for consideration of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and floor consideration is anticipated later in the week.

Two items of interest with respect to pro-life policy are worth noting.

Recognition of the Unborn Child

Currently Section 529 of the IRS code allows individuals to make tax-advantaged contributions to an account intended to save for a child’s future education expenses. H.R. 1 makes modifications to this program, such as including elementary and high school expenses as qualified expenses. The bill recognizes unborn children as eligible designated beneficiaries for 529 accounts. The bill’s definition of an unborn child is as follows:

(B) UNBORN CHILD.—For purposes of this paragraph—

(i) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero.

(ii) 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.

This definition is identical to the language in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (18 USC 1841), which was enacted in 2004 and recognizes that when a criminal attacks a pregnant woman and kills or injures her unborn child there are two victims of that crime.

Restoration of the Adoption Tax Credit

An earlier version of H.R. 1 repealed the adoption tax credit and the tax exclusion for adoption assistance programs. According to Congressional Research Service, 73,951 taxpayers claimed this credit in the last reported year (2014) and the average credit was $4,802 (2013). Data on the use of the tax exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs is not available.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

3 Points about Down Syndrome

Frank Stephens recently testified at a hearing before Congress:
I don’t feel I should have to justify my existence, but to those who question the value of people with Down syndrome I would make three points.

First, we are a medical gift to society. As you have heard, our extra chromosome makes us a blueprint for medical research that could reveal answers to cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Immune System disorders. If not for us, then for you and the one’s you love, fund this research.

Second, we are an unusually powerful source of happiness. A Harvard-based study has discovered that people with Down syndrome, as well as their parents and siblings are happier than society at large. I know happiness is not something you can assign dollars to, but surely it must be worth something.

Finally, we are the canary in the eugenics coal mine. Genomic research isn’t going to stop at screening for Down syndrome. It won’t be long before we can identify all manner of potentially expensive medical or personality “deviations” in the womb. As a society, we have an opportunity to slow down and think about the ethics of choosing which humans get a chance at life.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Federal Pro-Life Funding Policies, Fiscal Year 2018

This week the House approved H.R. 3354, Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018. The consolidated appropriations bill includes all 12 appropriations bills.

H.R. 3354 contained several new pro-life policies and funding level changes. Most of these provisions were included in the chairmen’s base bills or added during committee consideration. The Palmer Amendment (Division D) was added during floor consideration.

Division D (Financial Services)
  • Harris Multi-State Plan Abortion Funding Ban — This provision would eliminate elective abortion coverage from the Multi-State Plan Program, created by Obamacare.
  • Harris Amendment to Repeal DC Legalization of Physician Assisted Suicide — This provision nullifies the 2016 DC law that authorizes a DC adult resident who has been diagnosed as terminally ill to request and receive a prescription for lethal medication.
  • Palmer Amendment to prevent implementation of the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) — RHNDA is a 2014 DC law that prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on “reproductive health decisions,” including the decision to have an abortion. RHNDA could be used to force religious or pro-life advocacy groups to make personnel decisions that are inconsistent with their sincerely held beliefs about the sanctity of human life. The Palmer Amendment was adopted on the House floor today by a vote of 214-194. 212 Republicans and 2 Democrats (Lipinski, Peterson) voted for the Palmer amendment, 183 Democrats and 11 Republicans (Coffman, Costello, Curbelo, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Katko, McSally, Meehan, Poliquin, Reed, Stefanik) voted against, and 25 Members did not vote.