OPIOID SERIES:

Senate tax bill leaves out 'unborn child' provision

Senate tax bill leaves out 'unborn child' provision
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The Senate GOP's proposed tax legislation does not include a provision allowing parents to start a college savings account for unborn children, breaking from the House bill.

The provision to extend eligibility for tax-advantaged 529 college savings plans to unborn children has been praised by anti-abortion groups as strengthening the idea that life begins at conception.

The House bill specifically defined an unborn child as a "child in utero" and further as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

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The Senate did not include such language in the initial version of its bill, which was unveiled Thursday. That could change though, as the Senate Finance Committee will begin marking up the bill next week. Senate leaders will likely hold a floor vote after Thanksgiving.

Groups on both sides of the abortion debate squared off over the House provision, triggering another front in the ideological battle of whether to grant rights to unborn children.

“The inclusion of the unborn in 529 college savings plans recognizes the humanity of the unborn child and gives parents the opportunity to save for a child’s education from the earliest stages of his or her life,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement after the House bill was unveiled last week.

Abortion proponents said the provision was a back-door attempt to legalize “personhood” and restrict abortion. According to Planned Parenthood, the law already allows people to create 529 accounts for their future children.

"It is absurd that House Republican leaders would use a tax bill to try to advance their agenda to undermine access to safe, legal abortion,” said Dana Singiser, vice president, public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund.