The Georgia capitol in Atlanta. / Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.
Denver Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).
An unborn baby is now recognized as a dependent who will qualify expectant parents for a $3,000 deduction in Georgia tax rules, under the same law which bans abortion based on a detectible fetal heartbeat.
Georgia’s Department of Revenue issued new guidance stating that “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” is eligible for Georgia’s individual income tax dependent exemption, National Public Radio reports. A heartbeat is detectable about six weeks into pregnancy, sometimes before women know they are pregnant.
A woman six weeks pregnant as of July 20 may list her unborn child on her tax returns next year, with relevant medical records or other supporting documentation. More specific instructions are expected later this year, the New York Times reports.
Georgia’s 2019 law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectible recognizes the unborn child as a “natural person.” The same law which allows expectant parents to claim their baby as a dependent also requires a father to pay child support for “direct medical and pregnancy-related expenses” for an unborn child.
In June the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which mandated legal abortion nationwide in 1973.
In light of that decision, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on July 20 ruled that Georgia’s abortion ban can become law.
Legal protections and benefits for the unborn child and expecting parents have drawn criticism from some abortion advocates, but there are also legal questions to be answered.
In a July 2020 ruling against the state law, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones questioned whether a pregnant woman with an eating disorder could be found guilty of child cruelty and whether health care providers required to report child abuse could be liable for failing to report a pregnant woman living with an abusive relationship partner, the Georgia Recorder reports.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager of Georgia’s strongly pro-abortion rights Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, questioned whether a woman who claims the tax deduction but later miscarries could be investigated for tax fraud and procuring an illegal abortion.
However, the Georgia law exempts miscarriages, stillbirths, and ectopic pregnancies from legal penalty.
The law allows abortions in cases of medical emergencies to prevent the death or physical impairment of the pregnant woman.
Though the law recognizes the unborn child as a person, it still allows abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy targeting unborn children allegedly conceived in rape or incest, if an official police report was filed.
Alabama and Arizona also have abortion laws that broadly define the unborn child as a person.
Another 40 states, including Texas and California, define the unborn child as a legal person in cases involving homicide, the New York Times reports.
Some states have passed pro-abortion laws explicitly stripping legal rights from an unborn child. A 2022 Colorado law, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, says that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”