Even if you’re pro-choice, you should support closing this abortion loophole

Planned Parenthood used tax-exempt bonds to renovate its New York headquarters. This is a clinic in Houston.
Planned Parenthood used tax-exempt bonds to renovate its New York headquarters. This is a clinic in Houston. 2015 AP file photo

Should your tax dollars subsidize the construction of abortion clinics?

In 2012, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, renovated its national headquarters using a $15 million municipal bond subsidized and backed by taxpayers. Federal taxpayers have also subsidized the construction of abortion clinics in Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts through a special federal tax exemption on municipal bonds.

The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion and abortion-related services. However, a loophole in federal law has allowed this taxpayer-funded abortion subsidy to continue.

State and local governments are suitably permitted to finance construction of schools, roads and hospitals with special bonds exempt from federal tax. This lowers the cost of the bond and makes it a more attractive investment.

The federal tax code allows the use of these federally tax-exempt, taxpayer-backed bonds to finance abortion clinics. Because of the tax advantages, the abortion clinic receives a lower interest rate, subsidized by the tax break. When the bond is issued, the taxpayer becomes ultimately responsible in case of default.

Yet few Americans would consider an abortion clinic to be infrastructure. A 2016 Knights of Columbus-Marist poll found 62 percent of Americans, including those who consider themselves pro-choice, are opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion.

The federal government loses billions in revenue on tax-exempt bonds. This loss can be justified when the bond supports community infrastructure, but it is not justified and is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars when used to subsidize abortion facilities.

This week, I introduced bipartisan legislation to ban the use of “abortion bonds.” My legislation removes the tax-exempt status of any bond used to support abortion providers or abortion clinics. There are exemptions for facilities that only perform abortions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother, and a common sense exemption for hospitals.

The “No Abortion Bonds Act” is supported by North Carolina Right to Life, North Carolina Family Policy Council, National Right to Life, March for Life, Eagle Forum and other pro-life organizations.

Even if you don’t agree with my longstanding commitment to the “right to life” for those who cannot speak for themselves, the majority of Americans concur that using federal tax-exempt bonds to subsidize abortion clinics is improper. Closing this loophole is in line with 40 years of bipartisan agreement on the Hyde Amendment.

Pittenger, a Republican, represents North Carolina’s 9th District in the U.S. House.