It's hard to imagine how the outrageous attempt by anti-choice lawmakers to redefine rape as a way to block access to safe and legal abortions could get any worse. But this week we found out just how far the most recent radical assault on women could go.
Recent testimony to a House taxation subcommittee confirmed the same bill that seeks to redefine rape (the "Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortions Act" or H.R. 3), would force the IRS to audit how women paid for an abortion.
And in some cases, the bill would force women who were sexually assaulted into the hellish scenario of proving to IRS agents that they were victims of "forcible rape" or incest.
A tax expert quoted by Mother Jones magazine explains that under the tax provisions of H.R. 3, anyone who receives a tax deduction or credit for health care costs that include abortion care could face an audit to determine whether that care was related to a case of rape or incest. And the burden of proof during that audit would fall on the taxpayer.
Mother Jones quotes Marcus Owens, an accountant and former longtime IRS official, as saying that "on audit [she] would have to demonstrate or prove, ideally by contemporaneous written documentation, that it was incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger... It would be fairly intrusive for the woman."1
"Fairly intrusive" is an extreme understatement. In fact, it's hard to overstate how unbelievably and inhumanely callous it would be to allow the IRS to demand "contemporaneous written documentation" of a sexual assault or incest.
Tell Congress: The IRS has no place demanding proof of sexual assaults in tax return documentation.
In addition to being inhumane and intrusive, forcing women to prove a pregnancy was a result of rape is simply impractical and often not at all feasible. It's difficult enough for survivors of rape and incest to prove this in a criminal case, and now they'd also have to prove it to the IRS?
Yet this terrible bill has been identified as a top priority of Speaker Boehner and has already garnered 221 cosponsors.
Survivors of rape or incest have suffered enough. We can't let Republicans and anti-choice Democrats sic IRS investigators on women and force them to relive their sexual assaults.
Tell Congress: Say no to IRS abortion audits!