A Closer Look at State Abortion Referendums on the Ballot Across the United States
In the next 48 hours, Americans in five states will be voting on state constitutional amendments dealing with abortion.
In Vermont, California and Michigan, the Democrat party put forward the euphemistically named Reproductive Rights Amendments.
Although the language varies slightly from state to state, the legal effect of the three amendments is the same, namely it elevates the act of killing children in the womb to the highest level of state constitutional protection.
In California this means establishing an unassailable constitutional right to “privacy” and “equal protection” which prevent the state from limiting abortion. In legal practice, what this means is that any law seeking to limit the killing of unborn children for any reason would be deemed unconstitutional under state court.
In Vermont and Michigan, the amendment creates a right to “personal reproductive autonomy” or “reproductive freedom” that cannot be infringed unless the state proves a “compelling state interest”. Using those specific words is a reference to the “strict scrutiny” standard in constitutional law, which is a standard used to protect fundamental rights from infringement. Assigning strict scrutiny to a right means the courts will give the highest priority to defending this right. Traditionally, this type of standard has been used for the First Amendment free exercise of religion. In practice, what it means is that any legislation that seeks to restrict such a fundamental right will be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.
The three amendments share many things in common.
Completely Dehumanize the Child in Constitutional Law
The amendments completely dehumanize the child in the womb, leaving the unborn child less protected than a cat or a dog in all of the three states.
None of the “reproductive freedom amendments” contemplate or even acknowledges the fact that abortion ends the life of a developing human being.
No Real Limits on Abortion Until After Birth
Nor do any of the amendments include any limits on abortion whatsoever. Michigan’s amendment mentions viability, but quickly makes the reference meaningless by guaranteeing the right to abortion throughout all 9 months of pregnancy for health or psychological reasons. As the last 50 years of history under Doe v. Bolton (Roe v. Wade’s companion case that dealt with the “health” exception) has shown, these broad exceptions have always been interpreted to negate any restriction on the “right” to kill the developing child.
Overwhelming Campaign Funding Disparity
In Vermont, the abortion advocates have spent over half a million dollars, while the pro-lifers have spent around twenty thousand. That’s a healthy 25 to 1 ratio of pro-abortion to pro-life spending.
In California the funding disparity is even more extreme, with the abortion advocates spending close to 15 Million to around three hundred thousand dollars for the pro-lifers. That’s a whopping 50 to 1 ratio of pro-abortion to pro-life spending.
Lastly, in Michigan, pro-lifers have put up the stiffest fundraising competition – raising and spending $17 Million, but even with that significant amount of cash, they have been outspent by a 3 to 1 ratio as the pro-abortion side raised over $45 Million.
Adding to the crushing funding disparity is the fact that the media is overwhelmingly biased in favor of abortion, which means that in addition to all of the campaign advertising, every news report carries with it a healthy dose of pro-abortion propaganda.
Clearly, the playing field is anything but level, and it would require an electoral miracle for any of these amendments to lose on Tuesday.
The Pro-Life Amendments
Kentucky and Montana have pro-life amendments, but that description may in fact be too generous, as the amendments are more anti-abortion or abortion neutral than pro-life.
The Montana Amendment is what is commonly referred to as a born-alive infant protection act. The law would establish the obvious legal fact an infant born alive “is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the state and is entitled to the protections of the laws, including the right to appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment.” The law would therefore require infants born alive after an induced labor, a cesarean section, an attempted abortion, or another method to receive medical care.
Clearly, Montana’s LR-131 Amendment is not a pro-life law at all since it only applies to babies that are fully born. Even so, Montana’s pro-abortion medical establishment is opposing the law, falsely alleging that the law would criminalize doctors who are merely attempting to care for children born with terminal illnesses. This claim is, of course, false and has not been shown to be the case in any of the jurisdictions where similar laws have been passed. As in the case of the pro-abortion amendments, funding has been a one sided affair, with abortion advocates raising around $1 Million to oppose the amendment and pro-lifers spending nothing at all.
The Kentucky Amendment is more relevant to abortion than Montana’s amendment, but is also, at best, an abortion neutral amendment. The text of the amendment reads that in order “to protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” It is important to note that this amendment is not prohibiting abortion in Kentucky or enshrining the right to life of the unborn child in the constitution, it is merely preventing a state judge from single-handedly declaring a made-up constitutional right to abortion. The legislature could still choose to pass laws legalizing abortion, but judges couldn’t.
In keeping with all the other campaigns where abortion is on the ballot, pro-abortion advocates have far out-raised and outspent pro-lifers. Abortion advocates have spent around $5.5 Million to pro-lifers’ $1 Million.