Pregnant women in the U.S. state of Georgia will be able to deduct their fetuses as dependents on their taxes under a 2019 anti-abortion law that a judge allowed to go into effect last month, the state said.
The state’s tax agency said on Monday that any woman whose fetus has a detectable heartbeat as of July 20, the date of the court ruling, can take a personal tax exemption in the amount of $3,000 for each fetus, if she is carrying more than one.
The Georgia Department of Revenue did not provide details, such as what happens if the pregnancy ends in miscarriage during the tax year. The agency said it would issue further guidance later in 2022.
The law allowing the deduction was part of a so-called fetal heartbeat bill passed three years ago in Georgia, which aimed to ban abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, generally at around six weeks gestation.
That bill, which also allowed women to collect child support for a fetus, was one of a raft of abortion bans and restrictions that were not allowed to go into effect for years — as long as the United States constitution was interpreted as protecting a right to abortion.
After a new conservative super-majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ended those protections by overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Georgia’s law was allowed to go into effect.
Allowing pregnant women to claim their fetuses as dependents is an idea that has been supported by some in the anti-abortion movement for years. Bills to allow that have been introduced at the federal level at least twice.
Arizona passed a similar statute, but enforcement of its law granting “personhood” to fetuses has been blocked by a court, said Elizabeth Nash, who studies state abortion policy for the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute.
Georgia’s tax move is the broadest interpretation of fetal personhood to be enacted thus far, she said through a spokesperson.
The ACLU of Georgia, which is one of several groups suing to block the law, said that while a tax break is welcome, it is dangerous to grant full personhood to an embryo.
“We are all for measures to support pregnant people, through tax credits or otherwise. What’s dangerous and confusing is Georgia’s attempt to treat an embryo from the earliest days of pregnancy as a person with rights equivalent to those of the pregnant person,” said Julia Kaye, an attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
The Georgia Department of Revenue did not immediately respond to a request for comment or clarification from Reuters.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein Editing by Bill Berkrot.