Pro-abortion ERA passes the General Assembly amid legal controversy

Today, the Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates took up the ERA and passed it on mostly party lines, Democrats voting for it and Republicans against. The ERA was deliberately fast tracked in the opening days of this 2020 session. 

Pro-life advocates anticipated this outcome when a new pro-abortion majority won in the November elections. 

“This is a sad day not only for Virginia, but also for the entire country. The pro-abortion 1972 Equal Rights Amendment, if ratified, will lead to radical pro-abortion promoters finally having the perfect weapon to use against sensible protective pro-life laws, and also to force all taxpayers to pay for every abortion and to prevent passage of new laws that could protect women and babies from unscrupulous abortionists,” said Olivia Gans Turner, President of Virginia Society for Human Life.

The 2019 session saw radical supporters of the ERA demonstrating every day in the halls of the Capital building. Extremist proponents have intentionally downplayed the solid evidence that the ERA is being used around the United States to force taxpayers to pay for abortions, and that it could be used to dismantle other rational pro-life laws if ratified. A 1998 Court decision in New Mexico cited the ERA in that state as the reason the New Mexico ban on taxpayer funded abortions was unconstitutional. Similar decisions in Connecticut and Idaho followed the suit. A case based on the same issue is going through the courts in Pennsylvania now. 

Last week, on January 8th, an announcement was made by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel in response to a request for clarification on the status of the ERA. The opinion concludes: 

“… the ERA Resolution has expired and is no longer pending before the States. Even if one or more state legislatures were to ratify the 1972 proposal, that action would not complete the ratification of the amendment, and the ERA’s adoption could not be certified under 1 U.S.C. § 106b. In addition, we conclude that when Congress uses a proposing clause to impose a deadline on the States’ ratification of a proposed constitutional amendment, that deadline is binding and Congress may not revive the proposal after the deadline’s expiration.”

In response, the Archivist’s office sent a reply:

In its January 6, 2020 opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has concluded “that Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States.” (OLC Opinion, at p.2.) Accordingly, the OLC opinion goes on to state that “the ERA’s adoption could not be certified under 1 U.S.C. § 106b.” (OLC Opinion, at p.37.) NARA defers to DOJ on this issue and will abide by the OLC opinion, unless otherwise directed by a final court order. 

VSHL will work with national opponents of the ERA to prevent any new efforts to promote the ERA as written. VSHL supports a Congressional amendment to the ERA that would make the ERA abortion-neutral and protect pro-life laws.

Virginia Society for Human Life is the oldest state-wide pro-life organization in the nation with chapters throughout the Commonwealth supporting life issues and the Virginia affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee.

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