Kansas Hearing Held on ERA Bill, Pro-Life Groups Say it Promotes Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
February 25, 2009
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — The Kansas legislature held a hearing on Tuesday on a bill that would make Kansas the next state to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment. If state legislators ultimately pass the bill, the amendment would appear on the ballot before voters in the next statewide election.
However, pro-life groups oppose the bill because they say it could be used to promote abortion and the point to court decisions forcing states to fund abortions with tax money because of it.
The proposed amendment says: "Quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state or any of its political or taxing subdivisions on account of sex."
Beatrice Swoopes, representing the Kansas Catholic Conference, was one of the pro-life advocates attending the hearing to share her concerns.
"If we allow it to pass, Kansans will wake up one day wondering how a right to unrestricted and taxpayer-funded abortion was smuggled into our Constitution," she warned, according to the Wichita Eagle.
Judy Smith, of the Kansas chapter of Concerned Women of America, also questioned the bill and its potential pro-abortion effects.
In order for the ERA to make it to the ballot, the bill needs the support of two-thirds of the members of the state House and Senate, which will be difficult to accomplish with pro-life opposition.
The measure may not even make it out of the Senate committee as Sen. Pete Brungardt, the chairman of the panel, told the Eagle newspaper he isn’t sure if it will come to a vote in time.
Pro-life advocates were able to defeat a similar bill in Arkansas and officials with National Right to Life and its state affiliate, Arkansas Right to Life, opposed the ERA bill.
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.
There are also logistical concerns with bringing back the ERA debate.
"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 this bill, Congress would be forced to vote on whether to declare the 1972 ERA as ratified.
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