DETROIT (AP) — Parents who could show that a fetus was at least 12 weeks along at the end of a year would receive a tax break under legislation being considered by Michigan lawmakers.
The measures proposed by Republican lawmakers would treat a fetus the same as a child for purposes of a tax deduction. Rep. Jud Gilbert, of Algonac, one of the sponsors, said the legislation is an attempt to recognize that a pregnancy brings expenses. Parents would be able to claim the deduction if the fetus is at least 12 weeks old and the mother is receiving prenatal care.
The personal exemption is $3,950 for the 2013 tax year and $4,000 for the following year. The tax break could cost the state $5 million to $10 million a year in revenue, according to an analysis by the House Fiscal Agency.
Critics include some Democrats and the Michigan branch of the National Organization for Women, which said the legislation is an attempt to extend legal rights to the unborn.
"Ensuring sufficient access to prenatal care should be a top priority of our state. Instead, Republican legislators today brought forward a bill to establish fetal personhood in the guise of a tax deduction," said Rep. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak, in a statement.
Ari Adler, spokesman for House Republicans and Speaker Jase Bolger, rejected claims Wednesday that the legislation establishes "fetal personhood." He compared it to a 2004 state law that dealt with assaults on pregnant women and harm that could come to her fetus.
The legislation was discussed Tuesday in a House Tax Policy Committee hearing, but it is unclear if or when it will be forwarded to the full House for a vote after lawmakers return to the Capitol next Tuesday.