Michigan Cuts Child Tax Credit, Suggests One for Fetuses

Remember how I wrote about the Pennsylvania legislators who want to deny increased benefits to women who have an additional child while on welfare? Well, I recently read about something similar going on in Michigan.

Republican representatives in Michigan have proposed to offer a $160 tax credit to any woman who was at least 12 weeks pregnant at the end of the year.  I’m sure that the basic idea behind the proposal is to assist soon-t0-be-mothers with their upcoming financial burden.  However, I read this proposal as a very strange next step for these reps to take after having slashed tax credits for actual children.  If lawmakers cared so much about children, why take funds away from the children that are here with us now?  I see this tax credit as something completely different – a reward for a woman being pregnant and not having an abortion.  Evidently, this proposal is still in the works, so we’ll see what happens.

Here are some additional links on this story:

Michigan Rep. Barb Bryum on “Fetal Tax Credit”: “This Is Absurd”

Lansing Republicans Pushing Tax Credits for Fetuses after Eliminating Tax Credit for Children

After Cutting Tax Credits for Children, Michigan Republicans Consider One for Fetuses

And it’s not just the child tax credit that was cut last year:

According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, 341,000 of Michigan’s children live in high poverty areas, and Michigan is ranked the 44th worst percentage (with No. 1 being the best or lowest indicator) of children living in poverty. An assault on working families has plunged more children into poverty by the Republican legislature’s decisions to slash funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child-care subsidy, which both helped low-income families.

I’m totally aware that pregnancy is expensive. However, expanding medicaid coverage so that more low income pregnant women are covered (something Michigan is currently resisting) and mandating paid maternity leave (something Michigan doesn’t do) would be more helpful for pregnant women than would a one-time tax credit for their fetuses. And more than that, pregnancy only lasts nine months while the legal responsibility a parent has to his or her child lasts eighteen years. Could any legislator really think that women are happy with the idea of gaining a one-time tax credit for their fetuses while losing yearly tax credits for their children, or things like child-care subsidies?

Growing up in the pro-life movement, I always thought the argument that pro-lifers care about people until they are born was ridiculous, and I still think that it’s often overblown. But as Michigan’s latest move makes clear, it’s a point that needs to be made. Republican policies make a lie of pro-lifers’ claims to care about human life from conception to natural death, and that needs to be called out.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy
  • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Amelia

    I have no words.

  • Twist

    This makes perfect sense, in pro-lifer-until-it’s-born-then-let-it-starve-for-all-we-care world, what with life beginning at conception and ending at birth.

    Really, a tax credit for pregnant women who want to keep their baby is a good idea, however scrapping the child tax credit and bringing this in instead is… bizarre. And very telling of the true motivations of the people behind it. Once it’s born, they couldn’t care less whether the family is struggling to cope financially, but the precious fetuses must be saved!

  • Rosie

    I paid $550 out of my own pocket for my abortion; a $160 tax credit that was never in my bank account to begin with wouldn’t do anything to change my mind. It would have had to have been on the order of $10,000 above and beyond medical expenses to have even been tempting as a bribe to give birth. Though I suppose most people would probably be horrified at the idea of a woman remaining pregnant for pay, so they have to keep the number low enough they can’t call it a “job” or a “bribe”.

    • phantomreader42

      Who said: “Motherhood is the most important job in the world. That’s why they don’t pay you for it.”

    • Ibis3

      Hmm. But can we call it a “gift”?

  • smrnda

    If anybody cared about kids, kids that were actually born would still matter. When they don’t, it’s clear that the reason why a fetus is protected is that by protecting the fetus, you can control the woman, and once the child is born it’s no longer a tool that can be used to control the woman so easily.

  • Niemand

    Republican representatives in Michigan have proposed to offer a $160 tax credit to any woman who was at least 12 weeks pregnant at the end of the year.

    The necessary response is clear: Get pregnant about 13 weeks prior to the end of the year, collect your tax credit, and get an abortion as a New Year’s present to yourself. Works only if you have adequate insurance and a small copay for abortion, which cuts most women out, of course, but I think suggesting that women will use it that way might be enough to scare the legislature into quietly dropping the proposal.

    • Rae

      This is exactly my thought – giving women for being pregnant, but not so much for having existing children, seems like a way to incentivize abortion.

    • Sunny Day

      I’ve searched and I can’t find any humor in your suggestion, its enormously repugnant.

  • pagansister

    Really? $160 and you will stay pregnant? But once you give birth, forget it. Then it is up to you to take care if it. Makes NO sense at all—not even a little bit of sense.

  • Kay

    Women who get pregnant after the 12 week window has closed (ie, after early-mid October) will obviously give birth sometime in the first 9 months of the following year, and will therefore not be pregnant once the end of the year comes again. What happens to the tax credit for these women? Are they SOL? The rule of “at least 12 weeks pregnant at the end of the year” cuts out almost half of all pregnancies from being eligible for the tax credit.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I thought of that too! Weird, huh? There’s no way this proposal will go through, and that is one reason.

    • thalwen

      That’s even better for them. They get all the self-righteousness and political pandering and saving the BAYBEEZ while doing nothing to help women, babies or their families.

  • Awakingsleep

    I wouldn’t count on that. There was (may still be?) a tax break for hosting exchange students that requires at least 5 continuous months of hosting to be used. This seems reasonable until you consider that school comes in less than a 5 month chunk in the fall, and in the spring a lot of schools finish up before the end of May, too, so very few people can actually use it.

  • Plunderb

    Wait, aside from the obvious bullshittery going on here, how would this even work? Would they go on your self-reported LMP? Or Get OBs to issue some sort of certificate? I didn’t have an early ultrasound with my recent pregnancy, so my due date was “our best guess.” What’s to stop every woman from claiming the credit every year? Who would know?

    And $160? Please.