Arkansas Legislator Will Bring Back ERA Bill That Would Promote Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
December 30, 2008
Little Rock, AR (LifeNews.com) — An Arkansas legislator plans to bring back the ERA bill that pro-life advocates narrowly defeated last year because it would promote abortion. Though pro-life advocates don’t oppose equal rights for women, Arkansas’ approving the federal Rights Amendment (ERA) would promote abortion.
A vote could also make it a federal right to force taxpayers across the nation to pay for abortions using public funds.
Last February, an Arkansas state legislative committee defeated a resolution to approve the ERA. A state House panel voted down a ratification resolution (HJR 1002) after 20 co-sponsors abandoned it following the concerted pro-life lobbying effort.
Rep. Lindsley Smith, a Democrat form Fayettville, says she plans to bring it back during the 2009 session of the legislature.
I’ve had legislators who’ve questioned it in the past say, Hey, I’m going to support it this time. I think everythings in line to pass it in the next session, Smith told the Arkansas News.
Jerry Cox, executive director of the Family Council, a statewide pro-family group, told the newspaper that his organization will oppose it again and that it should be easier to defeat with lawmakers knowing the pro-abortion problems.
I think it’ll be a little easier to stop that, since we’ve already talked about it during the recent session, Cox said.
National Right to Life and its state affiliate, Arkansas Right to Life, led the opposition to the bill in 2007.
They said the sweeping language of the 1972 ERA would be used as a legal weapon against virtually all laws that regulate abortion. It has been used for that purpose other states, including Connecticut and New Mexico, where it a court cited it as requiring the state to pay for abortions.
"Many ERA supporters were not candid with the legislators, and that came back to bite them," Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, said in a statement given to LifeNews.com.
"Some lawmakers changed their minds, once they learned how ERAs have been used to require tax funding of abortion," he added.
Johnson also said that the ERA is officially dead and having Arkansas lawmakers vote on it again is a waste of their time.
"Some legislators also learned for the first time that the 1972 ERA contained a seven-year deadline and cannot be revived by any number of states," Johnson explained. "In fact, 26 of the 35 states that ratified during the 1970s explicitly mentioned the seven-year deadline in their ratification resolutions, and in 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the ERA dead."
Nevertheless, if three states adopt resolutions such as Arkansas’, Congress would be forced to vote on whether to declare the 1972 ERA as ratified.
Gov. Mike Bebee, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel spoke to a pro-ERA rally at the state capitol before the pro-life lobbying effort began and more than 66 co-sponsors signed up to support the bill until pro-life advocates told them of the problems.
Ultimately, the State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee defeated HJR 1002 on a 10-10 vote, with two cosponsors voting against it.
Ratification resolutions have been introduced this year in a number of other states that never ratified the 1972 ERA, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi.
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