Louisiana Pro-Life Advocates Stop ERA Bill, Could Force Tax-Funded Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
June 4, 2009
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — In Louisiana, pro-life advocates were successful in persuading a legislative committee to vote against ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Although the pro-life community is strongly pro-women, they’re concerned the bill could be used to force state residents to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.
Louisiana Right to Life opposed SCR 7, an ERA bill to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment.
"The ERA, since it has no abortion neutral language, can be used to invalidate pro-life laws and expand abortion," Right to Life director Ben Clapper tells LifeNews.com.
A legislative panel defeated the Senate bill on a 3-2 vote, which Clapper appreciated.
"Thanks to Senators Donahue, Amedee, Walsworth, and Kostelka for standing against this subtle pro-abortion measure," Clapper said.
Concerns about the ERA used as a tool to force state funding of abortions isn’t an unfounded worry. 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.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, confirmed that "ERAs have been used to require tax funding of 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.
He has also cited 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.
Other states have also looked at ratifying the amendment, with the Kansas legislature holding a hearing on in earlier this year.
Arkansas has also rejected the bill and a second attempt was made this session to move it ahead.
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