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New GOP bill would require the IRS to audit abortions

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A new bill which would expand the power of the Hyde Amendment — the provision that bans the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake — could turn IRS agents into abortion detectives. To ensure that everyone was following the proposed law, and that no tax benefits were used incorrectly, agents would have to determine during an audit the precise reason for an abortion. From Mother Jones:

In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits — like credits or deductions — to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.

Of course, the bill is vague on how the IRS should go about enforcing the new rules or just how taxpayers are supposed to prove they complied with the law. (You can have documentation for an abortion, but not always for, say, incest.)

The bill — which was the same one that sparked a furor when it attempted to change the exception for cases of rape to cases of "forcible rape" — is a top priority for the GOP. It's expected to pass in the House without much trouble; hopefully the Senate can stop it.