Keep the IRS Out of My Uterus

Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, testified on Wednesday that, if the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" became law, audits would get a lot more personal for female taxpayers.

Barthold said that, if a woman got audited, IRS agents would have to figure out whether a woman used any tax benefit or credit pay for an abortion, Nick Baumann of Mother Jones reports. (Imagine if every angry boyfriend could call up the IRS tip line and get his girlfriend audited over an abortion.)

Barthold said that if a woman used any kind of tax credit, or benefit, to pay for an abortion, the onus would be on her to prove that she was the victim of rape or incest, or that the abortion was needed to save her life. Alternatively, she could prove that her insurance doesn't cover abortion. An earlier version of H.R. 3 proposed redefining rape as "forcible rape," but the language was dropped amid public outcry.

This is a bill that Speaker John Boehner has declared a top priority for the new Congress. The stereotype of the Tea Party is that it's a movement of small government libertarians who don't care about culture-war issues. If you crunch the numbers on H.R. 3, the absurdity of this narrative becomes evident. The House Tea Party Caucus wants the IRS up in your uterus. So much for small government and indifference to social issues.

The H.R. 3 has 221 co-sponsors, of whom 211 are Republicans. The Republicans hold 241 seats in Congress.

Of the 56 official members of the House Tea Party Caucus, 55 are co-sponsors of H.R. 3. That's right, 98 percent of House Tea Party Caucus members are not just supporting but co-sponsoring a bill that would empower the IRS to audit the uteruses of the nation. Only 87 percent of all Republican House members co-sponsored the bill.

So much for the comforting myth that the Tea Party represents some kind of libertarian antidote to Republican social conservatism. Tea Party Republicans like Michele Bachmann are just as enthusiastic about restricting women's freedom as "establishment" Republicans like John Boehner.

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