Pro-lifers won a small victory Wednesday in Virginia when a state House committee rejected a constitutional amendment that could force taxpayers to fund abortions.
However, state pro-life leaders warned that the battle to defeat the so-called Equal Rights Amendment is not over.
The ERA would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal rights for all born citizens no matter what their sex is. Thirty-eight states need to ratify it, and Illinois became the 37th last year. Pro-life advocates long have warned that abortion activists would use the amendment to destroy the limited protections that America provides to unborn babies.
“The ERA, as currently written, would eliminate virtually every single regulation on abortion,” including the partial-birth abortion ban, according to the Virginia Society for Human Life. It also would force taxpayers to fund elective abortions.
The Virginia Senate passed the amendment last week, but its fate now is uncertain in the state House.
On Wednesday, the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee voted 4-2 against the amendment. Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, said abortion activists jeered and shouted at the committee members after the vote.
Turner was one of three speakers from each side who testified before the subcommittee. She said the ERA would pose serious dangers to the state and quoted from a new court challenge in Pennsylvania that relies on the state ERA to force taxpayers to fund elective abortions and make abortion a human right under the state constitution.
Though relieved at the vote, Turner said she knows abortion activists will not give up their aggressive lobbying.
“Pro-abortion advocates … are continuing to put pressure on pro-life members of the General Assembly,” she said. “It is still possible that the ERA may come up on the floor of the whole House of Delegates. It is absolutely critical that pro-lifers email or call their Delegate. Your voice counts so much!”
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In abortion activists’ minds, equality means women should be allowed to abort their unborn babies for any reason up to birth. If the amendment passes in Virginia, the ERA could be added to the U.S. Constitution and could force a radical pro-abortion agenda on all Americans. Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA in 2018.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recently warned that unborn babies’ rights could be completely erased if the amendment is approved.
“Whatever else passage of the currently-worded ERA would do, it would immediately and successfully be used to undermine protections for the unborn and their pregnant mothers,” Cuccinelli wrote in a recent letter to state lawmakers. “There is no reason any person for whom protection of the unborn and their pregnant mothers is a priority to support the currently-worded ERA.”
There is a possibility the ERA would fail even if Virginia ratifies it. When the amendment first was introduced, U.S. Congress set a deadline of 1982 for final passage, and that deadline has long passed. A legal battle would be very likely if the amendment passes.
Still, pro-abortion groups are lobbying heavily for the ERA in Virginia. They include Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU and the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.).
“Unborn girls and boys will be among the greatest victims if the Supreme Court were to allow this version of the ERA to be resurrected,” Turner said.