By Dave Andrusko
Be sure to read National Right to Life’s analysis of today’s vote by the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee to attempt to resurrect the ERA whose deadline for passage expired 40 years ago by retroactively “erasing the seven-year deadline that Congress attached to the ERA when it sent it to the state legislatures in 1972.”
It’s rarer than hen’s teeth when NRLC and the likes of NARAL Pro-Choice America agree on anything. But on the possible impact of a federal Equal Rights Amendment, we are in accord. The difference is we lament the potential impact, NARAL celebrates it.
Here’s part of what NRLC wrote in a letter to members of the House in opposing H.J.Res. 79:
There is now essential agreement between key pro-life and pro-abortion groups that the language of the 1972 ERA is likely to result in powerful reinforcement and expansion of “abortion rights.” For example, NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a March 13, 2019 national alert, asserted that “the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion . . . [it] would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws . . .” A National Organization for Women factsheet on the ERA states that “…an ERA — properly interpreted — could negate the hundreds of laws that have been passed restricting access to abortion care…”
Once a court adopts the understanding that a law limiting abortion is by definition a form of discrimination based on sex, and therefore impermissible under an ERA, the same doctrine would invalidate virtually any limitation on abortion. For example, under this doctrine, the proposed federal ERA 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 too are sought only by women). Also vulnerable would be federal and state “conscience laws,” which allow government-supported medical facilities and personnel — including religiously affiliated hospitals — to refuse to participate in abortions.
But, of course, that is the whole purpose of the pro-abortion offensive: to attempt to erase any and all limitations on abortion—at the state or federal level—and to require that abortions be paid for by taxpayers.
NARAL and other groups such as the Women’s Law Project, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund envision a federal ERA that would expunge pro-life gains made over the last 40+ years.
National Right to Life has long made clear that NRLC would go neutral on an ERA if it contained a simple “abortion-neutralization” clause. It would read, “Nothing in this Article [the ERA] shall be construed to grant, secure, or deny any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.” ERA proponents have refused to accept this revision, which makes its real agenda—on abortion, at least—crystal-clear.
National Right to Life will keep you up to date as proceedings continue.
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