Georgia will allow people to claim tax credits of $3,000 for each frozen embryo and fetus

Georgia’s abortion ban includes ‘personhood provision’ which allows people to claim embryos and fetuses as dependents and take $3,000 tax credits and will require them to be counted in state census

  • Critics of the law have said it will have messy and complicated implications in the state, arguing it has untold variables that will be difficult to keep in order
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he was ‘overjoyed’ by the decision to pass the law and its ‘personhood provisions’
  • Democratic State Sen. Jen Jordan said most Republicans who supported the bill when it was introduced in 2019 never expected it to become a reality 

Georgia is bolstering its abortion ban with legislation intended to support its definition that life begins in the early stages of development in the womb.

A provision in the state’s restrictive abortion law – which bans abortions after six weeks – allows people to claim embryos and fetuses as dependents worth $3,000 in tax credits.

The state will also consider those embryos and fetuses legal residents and count them in its census surveys as part of the population.

Mothers will also be allowed to file for child support once a fetal heartbeat is detected – typically around six weeks – and fathers will be required to pay child support. 

These ‘personhood provisions’ come after an injunction of Georgia’s abortion ban was overruled in federal appeals court on July 20, allowing the law, which was first first introduced in 2019, to come into effect less than a month after Roe v Wade was overturned.

A Georgia woman demonstrating in favor of abortions in Georgia on July 23, 2022

A Georgia woman demonstrating in favor of abortions in Georgia on July 23, 2022 

Critics of the law have said its personhood provisions will have messy and complicated implications in the state, arguing it has untold variables that will be difficult to keep in order.

‘What happens if a person claims an unborn child on their taxes and then has a miscarriage? What happens if they claim the unborn child and then travel out of state for an abortion?’ wrote Vanity Fair political columnist Bess Levin, ‘These are obviously just two of about a million questions the new law raises.’

Other critics voiced fears the personhood provisions would be a powerful tool for prioritizing the lives of embryos and fetuses over the lives of mothers.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, Julia Kaye, said the provisions would enable ‘Gov. Kemp and his radical political allies… to force Georgians to carry pregnancies and give birth against their will, with profound medical risk and life-altering consequences.’

Georgia governor Brian Kemp said he was 'overjoyed' by the decision, saying health care providers were prepared to bring mothers 'the resources they need to be safe, healthy and informed'

Georgia governor Brian Kemp said he was ‘overjoyed’ by the decision, saying health care providers were prepared to bring mothers ‘the resources they need to be safe, healthy and informed’

Georgia governor Brian Kemp said he was ‘overjoyed’ by the decision, saying health care providers were prepared to bring mothers ‘the resources they need to be safe, healthy and informed.’

‘Since taking office in 2019, our family has committed to serving Georgia in a way that cherishes and values each and every human being, and today’s decision by the 11th Circuit affirms our promise to protect life at all stages,’ Kemp said in July.

The new law makes abortions illegal after six weeks – often before women know they are pregnant – and includes exceptions for rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life.

While appeals of the law argued considering a fetus or embryo a ‘natural person’ was unconstitutionally vague, Chief Judge William Pryor disagreed in his decision to uphold the bill.

‘When focusing on the text, as we must, it is hard to see any vagueness,’ reads the court’s opinion, ‘The Act defines a natural person to include unborn humans in the womb at any stage of development.’

Pryor did concede that application of the law could be complicated.

‘To be sure, there might be vague applications of that definition in other provisions of the Georgia Code,’ he wrote.

Exactly how those ‘vague applications’ will be addressed, and what their effects on the state will be, remains to be seen.

When the bill was first introduced in 2019, Rep. Ed Setzler, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored it, said a private accountant estimated tax breaks from personhood claims could cost the state between $10million and $20million.

Tax losses notwithstanding, after Roe was overturned in June, Setzler maintained his support for the personhood provisions.

‘Georgia recognized when it passed the [bill] that living, distinct, whole human beings inside their mothers deserve full legal recognition, and that’s what Georgia did.’

Pro-abortion rights protestors demonstrating outside the Georgia Capital after Roe V Wade was overturned

Pro-abortion rights protestors demonstrating outside the Georgia Capital after Roe V Wade was overturned

But Democratic Georgia state Senator Jen Jordan said most Republicans who supported the bill when it was  introduced in 2019 never expected it to become a reality, and therefore did not consider the complications it brought with it when Roe was unexpectedly overturned three years later.

‘I had conversations with Republicans behind closed doors, where they were basically like, ‘Jen, I don’t know why you’re getting so worked up about this, this thing’s gonna get stopped by the courts, it’s never gonna go into effect. This is really just political maneuvering for us. We know it’s bad policy for the state of Georgia, but it’s good politics for us, as Republicans,’ Jordan told the Georgia Recorder. 

‘So I think now, we’ve got a situation where there’s going to be an incredibly damaging law that’s going to go into effect, and nobody, including the people who were pushing it, who voted for it, who supported it, whatever, had any clue what they’ve done and the damage that it’s really going to do to the state on so many levels.’

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