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S. 124 (117th): Abortion Is Not Health Care Act of 2021

So long as it remains legal, should the procedure qualify as tax-deductible?


Taxpayer funds *paying *for abortions has been almost completely illegal since 1976.), banned by the Hyde Amendment except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. But for a woman who lists it as a medical expense, an abortion can still be tax-deductible.

Some believe that’s in keeping with other uncontroversial tax-deductible medical expenses, such as ambulances, artificial limbs, crutches, hearing aids, oxygen equipment, and wheelchairs. Others disagree because, for them, abortion’s legality is not nearly as important as their belief in its immorality. They’ve introduced a bill in Congress to enact that viewpoint into public policy.

What the bill does

The Abortion Is Not Health Care Act would ban the tax deduction of an abortion as a medical expense.

The House version was introduced on January 21 as H.R. 380, by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ5). The Senate version was introduced a week later on January 28 as S. 124, by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

What supporters say

Supporters argue that a woman shouldn’t get a tax break because she engaged in a practice that, supporters argue, is immoral and should be outlawed entirely.

“The next four years of the Biden administration will bring out the worst abortion policies and edicts that our nation has experienced since the Roe v. Wade decision. However, the pro-life community will rise above these challenges to grow our movement and to bring about an end to abortion on-demand,” Rep. Biggs said in a press release. “I am fortunate to have an opportunity to fight for life in the U.S. Congress — the worthiest of causes one can be a part of in the course of public service.”

“Each human life, born and unborn, has immeasurable dignity and worth. The lives of both an unborn baby and her mother matter; and healthcare should heal, protect, and preserve both their lives,” Sen. Lee said in a separate press release. “Our laws and use of taxpayer money should reflect that truth, which is why I have introduced [this bill].”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that abortion remains a legal right in this country, as recognized and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, and ending its tax-deductibility would hit poorer women harder.

“The fact is that abortion is health care,” Physicians for Reproductive Health chair Kristyn Brandi, M.D. told the Washington Times. “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.”

“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,” National Abortion Federation president Rev. Katherine Ragsdale also told the Washington Times. “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.”

Odds of passage

The House version has attracted 31 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Ways and Means Committee. Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Rep. Biggs’ prior 2019 version attracted 39 Republican cosponsors but never received a vote.

The Senate version has attracted 18 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Sen. Lee’s prior 2020 version attracted 20 Republican cosponsors, but never received a vote in the chamber, despite being controlled by Republicans at the time.

Last updated Apr 1, 2021. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 25, 2021.

Abortion Is Not Health Care Act of 2021

This bill prohibits a tax deduction for medical expenses relating to an abortion, with specified exceptions for rape or incest, or to protect the life or health of the mother.