Congressional Equal Rights Amendment Would Promote Abortion, Funding
by Steven Ertelt
March 27, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Equal rights for women is a concept Americans would easily support. But, a constitutional amendment Congressional Democrats have reintroduced to enshrine it is nothing more than a phony attempt to promote abortion, pro-life groups say.
Leading abortion advocates, including Sens. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California as well as Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jarrold Nadler of New York, are joining with the Feminist Majority Foundation to reintroduce the Equal Rights Amendment today.
The ERA passed Congress in 1972 but lapsed in 1982 when it fell three states short of ratification.
The lawmakers will reintroduce the amendment on it and hold hearings in the House Judiciary Committee soon.
Without an amendment modifying the language of the ERA, pro-life groups say it will be used to promote abortion and require taxpayers to fund it.
Language similar to the federal ERA was enacted in New Mexico in 1973. In 1998, the New Mexico Supreme court ruled that the amendment prohibits the state from restricting abortion differently from "medically necessary procedures" sought by men, and the court ordered the state to pay for elective abortions under the state’s Medicaid program.
National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson recently talked with LifeNews.com about the ERA when the Arkansas state legislature defeated an attempt to ratify it earlier this year.
He says the sweeping language of the 1972 ERA would be used as a legal weapon against virtually all laws that regulate abortion.
"In other states, major national pro-ERA organizations have argued that laws limiting tax-funded abortions or requiring parental consent for minors’ abortions violate ERAs," Johnson explained.
Should the ERA be adopted, it would invalidate the federal Hyde Amendment and all state restrictions on tax-funded abortions. Likewise, it would nullify any federal or state restrictions even on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions (since these are sought "only by women").
Johnson says laws which allow government-supported medical facilities and personnel — including religiously affiliated hospitals — to refuse to participate in abortions would likely be in jeopardy as well.
During the initial debate over the ERA, pro-life Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who is still in the House, proposed an "abortion neutralization" amendment.
The text of the Sensenbrenner motion made it clear that the ERA could not be used to promote abortion or abortion funding. Pro-life lawmakers will likely try to attach similar language to the ERA if it comes up for a vote.
Johnson also explained how the ERA died years ago, which prompts the need for the pro-abortion lawmakers to reintroduce a new version.
The deadline for ratification of the 1972 ERA expired many years ago, and that the U.S. Supreme Court flatly declared it dead in 1982. Nevertheless, if three states adopt resolutions ratifying the old amendment, Congress would be forced to vote on whether to declare the 1972 ERA as ratified.