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Oppose ERA, Nat. Right to Life Urges Arkansas Legislature

National attention focuses on impending fight in Arkansas legislature on resolution to "ratify" 1972 federal ERA

 

Contact: National Right to Life, Washington, DC Legislative Office, 202-626-8820, Legfederal@aol.com

 

MEDIA ADVISORY, Feb. 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- Within the weeks immediately ahead, the Arkansas General Assembly will consider a resolution (HJR 1002) that purports to add Arkansas to the list of states supporting ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  According to the national pro-ERA newsletter "The ERA Campaigner" (Jan. 31), "The hopes of ERA supporters all over the country are now high that the Arkansas legislature will ratify the ERA within the next few weeks."

 

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee will conduct a hearing on HJR 1002 on February 7.  Already, 66 out of 100 House members have cosponsored the resolution, along with 11 senators.  ERA supporters have claimed to have commitments from 14 senators.  Under Senate rules, it would require the votes of 18 of the 35 senators for HJR 1002 to pass. 

 

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and its state affiliate, Arkansas Right to Life, oppose HJR 1002 because the sweeping language of the 1972 ERA would be used as a legal weapon against virtually all laws that regulate abortion -- indeed, ERAs with similar language have already been used for this purpose in other states, including New Mexico.

 

Moreover, 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.

 

NRLC and Arkansas Right to Life have prepared a two-page memo summarizing the case against HJR 1002, both on grounds that it seeks to evade the amendment process required by the U.S. Constitution itself, and because the 1972 language does not contain safeguard language necessary to prevent its use as a powerful pro-abortion legal weapon.  The memo can be viewed in a web browser here, or downloaded in PDF format here.

 

Douglas Johnson, director of the National Right to Life legislative office in Washington, D.C., is available for interviews regarding the national effort to "resurrect" the long-expired 1972 ERA, and regarding the way in which ERAs and the abortion issue intersect.  For over 20 years, Mr. Johnson has been a nationally recognized authority on the relationship between ERAs and abortion-related laws.  He has authored such articles as "Aborting the ERA" (American Politics magazine), "E.R.A. and Abortion:  Really Separate Issues?"  (America magazine), and "New Mexico Supreme Court Says State ERA Requires State to Pay for Elective Abortions" (National Right to Life News, Dec. 10, 1998).  Mr. Johnson, who has participated in debates on numerous nationally broadcast radio programs, including NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show" and "To the Point," welcomes opportunities to debate both the process and substance of the proposed Arkansas ERA resolution with pro-ERA spokespersons.

 

"We'd like to see more candor by the pro-ERA side in Arkansas," Johnson commented.  "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 -- so they should stop telling Arkansas legislators that there is no connection.  Arkansas lawmakers also need to know that the U.S. Supreme Court declared the 1972 ERA dead decades ago, so the current effort is an attempt to evade the proper constitutional amendment process."

 

To request an interview or to schedule a broadcast appearance by Mr. Johnson, please call the NRLC Federal Legislation Department at 202-626-8820, or send e-mail to Legfederal@aol.com.

 

For additional documentation on the ERA-abortion connection, and on the expiration of the 1972 ERA, visit the NRLC website at www.nrlc.org/Federal/era/Index.html