Arkansas ERA Finding Strong Pro-Life Opposition Again Because of Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
March 3, 2009
Little Rock, AR (LifeNews.com) — The effort to get the legislature in Arkansas to approve the ERA is drawing strong pro-life opposition again because it could be used to promote abortion. A state legislative panel defeated the measure last year after pro-life groups rallied in opposition to it.
The resolution would make Arkansas the next state to approve the federal Equal Rights Amendment (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 by National Right to Life and its state affiliate, Arkansas Right to Life.
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.
Sen. Sue Madison, a Fayetteville Democrat, is bringing back the measure this year, as Senate Joint Resolution 12, and she says she is running into fierce opposition.
"I just don’t have the votes," Madison told the Northwest Arkansas News.
She is hoping to get the bill through the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee that will hold a hearing today on the bill but not likely vote on it.
Madison says she considers Sen. Bobby Glover, a Carlisle Democrat, the swing vote on the panel, but he tells the News that he is opposing the measure.
"I have been bombarded all weekend [by calls against it]," Glover said. "A great majority of the people are apparently against it. They are scared of it. It is the same issues we have heard all these years [such as abortion]."
Meanwhile, House Joint Resolution 1014 by Rep. Lindsley Smith is pending in the House and House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Chairman Rep. Rick Saunders says he doesn’t think the bill will make it out of his committee.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, said in a statement given to LifeNews.com last year why the pro-life groups oppose the bill.
"Many ERA supporters were not candid with the legislators, and that came back to bite them," he said. "Some lawmakers changed their minds, once they learned how ERAs have been used to require tax funding of abortion."
"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."
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 such as HJR 1002, Congress would be forced to vote on whether to declare the 1972 ERA as ratified.
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