As of Monday, taxpayers in Georgia can list developing embryos as dependents on their tax returns, according to a press release by the Department of Revenue. The parent will be able to claim tax relief once the embryo has reached 6 weeks’ gestation for up to $3,000 per embryo, marking Georgia as the first state to do so.
The decision follows the overturning of the historic Roe v Wade abortion rights ruling in June and the resulting ban on abortion in Georgia following the detection of cardiac cell activity, often known by the misnomer “heartbeat bills”. People often don’t even know they’re pregnant at this point, but it has become a pseudoscientific benchmark for many abortion laws recently.
“Heartbeat bills” have come under heavy fire after their continued use in legislation due to a lack of scientific basis and unnecessary emotive language. With Texas passing one of the most extreme abortion bans under the Heartbeat Act, many states quickly followed.
However, doctors have since spoken out against the idea of a “fetal heartbeat” as wrong, as a 6-week embryo does not have a functioning cardiovascular system and definitely not a heart structure. What is being mistaken for a heartbeat is actually small electrical fluctuations and the sound is merely a representation created by the ultrasound machine.
“When I use the stethoscope to listen to a patient’s heart, that sound that I hear is that typical bum-bum-bum-bum that you hear as the heartbeat is created by the opening and closing of the cardiac valves. And at six weeks of gestation, those valves don’t exist,” Dr Nisha Verma, a fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a physician who provides abortion care, told The Texas Tribune.
“[That] flickering that we see on the ultrasound, that’s super early in the development of a pregnancy, is actually electric activity. And the sound that we hear at that point is actually manufactured by the ultrasound machine.”
While the decision may be seen as a win for some, who can begin their deductibles around 7.5 months early, economists are already questioning the decision. The high number of natural miscarriages that result in pregnancies never coming to term may cause a huge amount of complex tax inquiries and even treasury handouts.
The decision by Georgia calls into question a number of laws that may involve an unborn fetus being considered a person. Last month, a pregnant woman made headlines after driving in a high-occupancy traffic lane and arguing with police by stating her unborn child should be considered another person in accordance with new laws.