April 23, 2018

The ERA and Abortion - Congressman Henry Hyde saw the Connection

Congressman Henry J. Hyde appeared before the House Judiciary Committee as a witness to provide testimony on the relationship between abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  He referred to the relationship as the “abortion connection”. 
The following are excerpts from his testimony.

“And recent experience suggests that the ERA, if it is proposed and ratified without an explicit provision against its use as a proabortion device, will, in fact, be used to sweep away the minimal protection of unborn children that the courts currently allow, and also to mandate tax funding for abortions.”

“The Court’s holdings have denied the constitutional right to a Government-financed abortion on the ground that poor women who desire abortions are not within any of the so-called suspects classes against whom no law can discriminate without triggering strict scrutiny by the courts.”
“Strict scrutiny almost always results in the law being struck down as unconstitutional.  If either sex or poverty had been designated by the Court as a suspect classification, then the Court would almost certainly have found a right to abortion funding.”
“Since 1970 the ERA advocates have emphasized that the amendment’s principal legal effect would be to make sex a suspect classification under the Constitution. The most important suspect classification at present is race.  If sex discrimination were treated like race discrimination, Government refusal to fund abortions would be treated like a refusal to fund medical procedures that effect members of minority races.”

“Other laws regulating abortion would be treated similarly. Conscience clauses, for instance, which give doctors and nurses in State-supported institutions the right to refuse to participate in abortions, would be treated like laws giving State officials the right to deny services to blacks but not to whites.”

“Unless abortion-related cases are clearly and explicitly excluded from the scope of the ERA, this constitutional amendment making sex a suspect classification would provide the ACLU and other proabortion litigants with the argument they need to persuade the crucial Justice.”

“If the Federal ERA were ratified there would be no need for silence or evasion, so we would see all laws regulating abortion challenged vigorously on the argument that they are unconstitutional discriminations against women.”

“In the meantime, many of those that are committed both to abortion and the ERA will continue to avoid discussing the connection.”

“I can only explain the resistance to the insertion of clarifying language in the ERA as additional evidence that many of the proponents do intend to use it as a tool in the abortion struggle.”

“It would be especially tragic if legislators who do wish to minimize the killing of pre-born children were to give pro-abortion lawyers and pro-abortion judges a new and powerful tool with which to enhance and extend the abortion right, especially by mandating the use of tax funds to pay for abortions.”  

(See Hon. Henry Hyde Statement in The Impact of the Equal Rights Amendment: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary U.S. Senate, 98th Congress, May 26, 1983 pp 82-90; Emphasis added).



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