Unborn Children No Longer Get Tax Breaks in Senate Republicans' Revised Plan

Senate Republicans have scrapped a provision in their tax plan that would allow families to open college savings accounts for unborn children.

Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Bloomberg on Monday that the clause would have violated what's known as the Byrd Rule, which blocks the Senate from including "extraneous matter" in certain kinds of legislation. 

The House's original bill made unborn children beneficiaries of 529 accounts, stating that "nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section." The clause went on to define unborn child as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." 

Reproductive rights activists argued the provision was an underhanded attempt to define life as beginning at conception and undermine abortion rights.

"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," Dana Singiser, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's vice president of public policy and government affairs, said in a statement. "Politicians in Washington, DC have no place inserting themselves in decisions about women's health and lives, not on this bill and not on any bill."

News of what many considered to be a de facto pro-life clause arrived just a day after Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced legislation that would ban abortion at six weeks nationwide. 

"The abortion bill would ban abortion before a woman even knows she is pregnant," Symone Sanders, a Democratic strategist, told Newsweek at the time.

"Today we have a tax bill that codifies in law that 529s, aka new tax savings accounts, can be opened in the name of 'children in utero.' This is in lockstep with the GOP's war on women and their attempts to limit our bodily autonomy."

Republicans in the Senate passed its revision of the GOP tax plan early Sunday morning by a narrow 51 to 49 vote. 

In order to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation, Congress will hold a conference to reach a compromise and get a finalized tax plan to President Donald Trump's desk. 

"Now it’s time to take the best of both the House and Senate bills, make them even stronger in a conference committee, and finalize one piece of legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of Americans for generations to come," Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said following the vote.