Rougher waters ahead for pro-abortion ERA

By Dave Andrusko

On Thursday, National Right to Life offered a keen summary of what happened to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives’ attempt to “resuscitate” the pro-abortion ERA. It naturally passed—with the rarest of exceptions, to be a congressional Democrat is to be pro-abortion—so that was inevitable. 

However (as the headline apt summarized), “U.S. House of Representatives attempts time-travel rescue of long-dead 1972 Equal Rights Amendment – but resuscitation campaign likely to encounter cool receptions in the U.S. Senate and the federal courts.”

Please read the story in its entirety. It provides important background to a battle that goes back to the early 1970s.

For our purposes today, there are two very important components. First, many (although not all) pro-abortionists no longer shy away from boldly stating  that the ERA will be used to attack pro-life legislation. As NRLC wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives

There is now broad agreement between key pro-life and pro-abortion groups that the language of the 1972 ERA could be employed by liberal federal judges to reinforce and expand “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…” The general counsel of the National Women’s Law Center told AP that the ERA would allow courts to rule that limits on abortion “perpetuate gender inequality.” We could cite many other examples.

Second, there is the Ginsburg factor. The headline over the story written by David Savage of the Los Angeles Times reads, “Ratification of Equal Rights Amendment runs into opposition — from Trump, sure, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Justice Ginsburg is an ardent supporter of the ERA but thinks supporters need to start afresh. Referring to a public interview that Ginsburg gave Monday at the Georgetown University Law Center  Savage reported

“There is too much controversy about latecomers,” she said in response to a question. The votes by Virginia, Illinois and Nevada came “long after the deadline passed…. I would like to see a new beginning. I’d like it to start over.”

Savage noted that Ginsburg was repeating a conclusion she had voiced last year. 

“Noting in September that the ERA “fell three states short of ratification,” she said, “I hope someday it will be put back in the political hopper, starting over again, collecting the necessary number of states to ratify it.”

A final comment about the abortion connection, from yesterday’s NRLC story:

During today’s House debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca. made the remarkable statement, “This [ERA] has nothing to do with the abortion issue.” NRLC’s Johnson commented, “Pelosi says the ERA has nothing to do with abortion, but her friends at Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, and the National Women’s Law Center have been shouting from the rooftops that it has a great deal to do with abortion.” As the Associated Press (David Crary) accurately reported on Jan. 21, “… Abortion-rights supporters are eager to nullify the [ERA ratification] deadline and get the amendment ratified so it could be used to overturn state laws restricting abortion.”