Yesterday, lawmakers in Kansas proposed a new way to stigmatize abortion and place it out of reach of even more lower income women: taxing it. David Klepper of the Kansas Star reports that State Sen. Mary Pilcher (R) proposed the measure as an alternative revenue raiser:
Lawmakers anxious to avoid a general tax increase have offered several creative alternatives raising revenue. Some say the state could sell some of its buildings and land. Others suggest going after tax cheats and Medicaid fraudsters, privatizing services, or raising the court fees for criminals.
But Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook may have just offered the most unique idea so far: impose a sales tax on abortion. Pilcher Cook, a Shawnee Republican, offered the idea as an amendment today as the Senate debates a 1-cent sales tax increase. Her amendment would also decrease the proposed sales tax hike to .9 cents.
She noted that governments routinely use tax policy to effect behavior – cigarette and liquor taxes, for example, or tax breaks designed to spur economic activity. “If you want less of something, you tax it,” Pilcher Cook said.
Several Senators liked the idea. Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said it would not only reduce abortions, it might also convince another late-term abortion provider from setting up shop in Kansas now that George Tiller’s clinic is closed. Most resisted the idea, though no critics voiced opposition to the abortion tax. Instead, they argued against reducing the overall sales tax increase.
The amendment ultimately failed 17-22 and the legislature opted for a 1-cent sales tax increase to preserve “spending for schools and social services.” Piltcher offered her amendment just days after a new report from the Guttmacher Institute concluded that the stigma surrounding abortion coverage is already pushing insured women to pay for the procedure out of their own pockets. The report also suggested that poor women are obtaining abortions in greater numbers than women from other income brackets, as women find it more difficult to access affordable birth control during an economic recession.
This is the second setback in a week for anti-abortion activists in Kansas. Earlier this week, the Kansas legislature failed to overrule Gov. Mark Parkinson’s veto of a late-term abortion bill that would have “require physicians to give the medical diagnosis that prompted them to authorize the abortion. State law prohibits abortions during or after the 22nd week of pregnancy, unless a doctor determines that the pregnancy constitutes a serious health threat