On August 12th, over 100 U.S. legislators signed a letter addressed to Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the United States Treasury, urging him “to take swift action to issue new regulations to protect innocent human life by ending tax breaks for abortion under the guise of medical care.” The lawmakers noted, “Abortion is not health care. Any procedure for which a successful outcome depends on the death of a living human being, born or unborn, cannot be considered health care.”
According to Liberty Counsel:
After the 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, the IRS chose to reinterpret the 1942 statutory definition of “medical care” in the Code to include abortions. This, in turn, creates tax breaks for abortions through the medical expenses deduction as well as through health flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and other tax-preferred health accounts and tax breaks that incorporate §213(d)’s definition of “medical care.”
By correcting this error, the Department of Treasury would protect taxpayers from funding the procedure and subsidizing the deaths of innocent unborn children.
The signers argue that classifying abortion as medical care is incorrect because clearly, that was not the original intent. “[W]hen the deduction for medical care was first enacted in the Revenue Act of 1942, abortion was a crime in virtually every state. However, shortly after Roe v. Wade, the IRS imposed on the then-three-decades-old statute a meaning of ‘medical care’ that would have been unthinkable to the 77th Congress that enacted it,” lawmakers wrote.
Among the lawmakers who signed the letter are Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.).
The Internal Revenue Code currently defines “medical care” as any care performed “for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.” The letter notes that “long-standing regulations” stipulate that medical care should “be confined strictly to expenses incurred primarily for the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness.”
Abortion, the lawmakers note, is almost always an elective procedure “that has nothing to do with ‘the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness.’” The Code specifically references care for one person’s body, but the letter notes:
[T]he primary purpose of an abortion… is not to affect the body of the mother, but, tragically, to destroy the body of the unborn child growing within her…. An abortion is considered ‘successful’ not simply when the pregnancy is terminated (since childbirth also does this), but only when the result is a dead unborn child.
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman, stated in response to the letter, “Abortion is not healthcare. Not one tax dollar should ever fund the murder of children.”