HB 62, the bill to provide a sales tax exemption to anti-abortion pregnancy resource clinics like Brandi Swindell’s Stanton Healthcare in Boise, has passed the House on a 58-12 vote, with only Democrats opposing the bill. Rep. Kelly Packer, R-McCammon, said she opposes abortion in most cases, but feels that only a tiny number occur because of risk to the life of the mother or sexual assault. “To me, the choice should be made at or before conception, not at an abortion clinic door,” she said.
She said Stanton Healthcare had to pay $6,000 in back sales taxes and penalties because it mistakenly thought it was exempt from sales tax when it purchased an ultrasound machine. The organization is the one that sponsored live ultrasound demonstrations on pregnant women in the state Capitol last year, as part of an unsuccessful push for legislation to require any Idaho woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound.
Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, asked Packer, “I have a little bit of concern about the definition of a pregnancy care clinic, as somebody who’s pregnant presently. I don’t see a natural definition. Has there been anything about how that definition would apply to other clinics?” Woodings said by her reading, the bill also would extend the tax exemption to midwifery clinics and other facilities.
Packer said the bill would limit the exemption to clinics that are 501c3 nonprofits, whose services are supervised by a licensed physician, and “it would be limited to those facilities that do not terminate life at their clinics.” Woodings said she’d oppose the bill, because it could cost the state far more than the estimated $10,000 a year, due to the definitions used.
Rep. Grant Burgoyne, R-Boise, said he is pro-choice. “I do not feel that as a matter of tax policy we ought to essentially be making a decision on the abortion issue,” he told the House.
Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Just a comment back to the objections: There’s nothing that would stop them from bringing an RS (bill) and doing in that RS what they’re talking about. This is good legislation and they have the opportunity to do that.” The only House Democrat to vote for the bill was Rep. Carolyn Meline, D-Pocatello; every House Republican voted in favor of it. The bill now moves to the Senate side for consideration.