The GOP just released a tax plan that eliminates programs to support small businesses that spend money to make themselves more accessible for people with disabilities and another that encourages business owners to hire vets. It would also end a tax credit that helps people to adopt children.
This is all done in order to get more money into the hands of the wealthy. It is another example of the political games that are played on the backs of marginalized communities.
In an almost comic turn, they are also using a bill that is supposed to be about taxes and jobs to push personhood. The legislation includes language that allows people to start college savings plans or 529s for “unborn children”. The bill talks about beneficiaries including “a child in utero”, which is defined as a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb. This is a sneaky move with very troubling possible consequences.
We have seen this before in Colorado. The idea of “personhood” or defining life as beginning at a certain time early in pregnancy has been at the ballot box three separate times, and every time voters in our state have rejected the idea.
Activists who opposed personhood in Colorado saw it as an attack on reproductive health care because it would deny access to emergency contraception, abortion and some fertility treatments. They also feared that the expanded definition could be used to criminalize pregnant women’s behavior or punish people based on pregnancy outcomes. This is a development we have seen more and more often in recent years — for example, when laws are written so that a woman who has a miscarriage is at risk of arrest or interrogation.
An alarming number of women are being arrested, prosecuted and jailed just for losing their pregnancies. The National Advocates for Pregnant Women has identified more than 375 arrests since 2005. Personhood legislation is part of an agenda of denying personal decisions and criminalizing women and providers, attacks that fall hardest on low-income women and women of color.
One of COLOR’s community organizers, Gina, was told by her doctors that her pregnancy was high-risk. After that, she worked hard to take all necessary precautions, but she found herself bleeding late one evening. When she went to the emergency room, the doctor told Gina and her husband that the placenta had detached and that she had lost the pregnancy. She later said that in spite of the physical hurt, the greatest pain was “apologizing to my daughter, who was six years old at the time, and telling her that she was not going to have a brother or a sister.”
Many women are extremely sad when they experience pregnancy loss, especially when these experiences are made harder by barriers to care or by laws that stigmatize miscarriage. Gina fought hard against personhood knowing that she had walked in the shoes of women who could face a miscarriage and then have to endure interrogation or investigation.
Threatening women who have faced a pregnancy complication or loss does not serve the public interest. Pushing fertility treatments, contraception and abortion out of reach does not help families to achieve financial stability or find a job that enables them to meet the needs of their families.
It is clear that what this “tax plan” really does is tax the health of marginalized people in order to benefit the rich and push a harmful political agenda. That is simply unconscionable. We hope that Coloradans will make our voices heard about the very real harms that this bill would cause.
Karla Gonzales Garcia is the Program and Policy Director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). Karla is an immigrant from Peru. Her career spans across a range of issues and in both direct services and advocacy. She has worked on behalf of survivors of violence, young people with learning disabilities and to achieve immigrant and reproductive justice. She is dedicated to moving proactive policies to meet unique community needs.