The Reproductive Rights Constitutional Amendment

By Hannah Miyamoto, founder of National Progressive Review

Reproduction RightsEarlier this month, the Iowa Senate debated a bill restricting the provision of late-term abortions to stop a doctor from providing services to women across the state line from where former Nebraska Dr. George Tiller, murdered in 2009, used to practice. Iowa currently has an unemployment rate of 6%, and over 100,000 Iowans are unemployed.

On 26 May, Kansas Republican Gov. Brownback signed into law a bill that prohibits insurance companies from paying for abortions (regardless of what the insurance policy says) unless it is necessary to save the life of the insured woman. Kansas currently has an unemployment rate of 6.7%, and over 100,000 Kansas residents are unemployed.

On 19 May, Texas Gov. Perry signed into law a bill that forces women to get (and pay for) medically-unnecessary sonograms, during which they must be sadistically racked with guilt by receiving a detailed description of the fetus within them. The unemployment rate in Texas is 8%, and almost 1 MILLION Texans are unemployed.

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans voted unanimously, joined by 16 anti-choice Democrats, to pass H.R. 3, which condones rape, raises taxes on women whose insurance covers women (note the steady attack on the contractual rights of women and insurers), and destroys the power of Washington, D.C. residents to decide their own government’s abortion policies. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 9%, and nearly 14 MILLION Americans are unemployed.

Republican leaders either don’t care about unemployment or they are ideologically opposed to all options that would reduce unemployment, like a major income tax withholding cut to stimulate spending, or a new stimulus bill to fund more “shovel-ready” projects.

However, rather than just admitting they want to kill the American economy to try to prevent Obama’s reelection, or taking a long recess to tell voters how much they want to help American workers, both Congressional and state Republican legislators are as busy as Satan’s demons attacking and persecuting women. Of course, since abortion opponents are one of the few groups that still support them. Like junkies on meth, Republicans are addicted to attacking women and children.

The surest and quickest way to end this symbiotic cycle of addiction is to deprive the Republican power addicts their fix by denying them their power to deny women and men their reproductive freedoms. The Margaret Sanger Reproductive Rights Amendment (see below) would achieve that by getting Congress, the states, territories, commonwealths, and Indian tribes (although most tribal governments are pro-choice) out of regulating reproductive rights, and access to contraception information.

The amendment is drafted to follow the phrasing of the 1st, 9th, 13th, and 14th amendments. Section 7 almost repeats the 9th amendment (in effect since 1791) except for expressly enumerating that “human reproduction” is a civil right beyond the power of government to freely regulate. Section 3 uses language similar to the Supremacy Clause of Article VI, section 2, to make clear that women control their bodies, and not even men can use the law to control women, whether the sex they had was consensual or rape.

Effectively, the RRA would help make clear that the power of government to regulate rises in direct relation to the impact of private decisions on other citizens and residents, as Justice William O. Douglas in the companion case to Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton.

While passage of the Reproductive Rights Amendment may seem impossible, 2013 is the best chance for guaranteeing reproductive rights in all 50 states since the Roe v. Wade (abortion) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (contraceptive devices) decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. This is because the upcoming 2012 elections are likely to turn over control of the U.S. House to the Democratic Party, putting immense pressure on the Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Passage of the Reproductive Rights Amendment will require a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate, followed by the approval of 38 states. Governors and President Obama have no direct role.

Pushing for the Reproductive Rights Amendment would also give abortion rights supporters a reason to care enough about the 2012 elections to help get sweeping pro-choice majorities elected to the House, Senate, and state legislatures. In addition, activists in pro-choice states can achieve a great deal by persuading their legislatures to pass “Little RRA’s” to put the protections in their state constitutions, much as women won the vote in most Western and Midwestern states between 1890 and 1913 before the 1917 victory in populous New York pushed Congress to pass the federal constitutional woman suffrage amendment.

While the RRA is ambitious, it will unify reproductive rights activists around one major shared goal, rather than dividing them up into different groups trying to influence 50 state legislatures and Congress. In the process, it will spotlight how anti-abortion rights activists are waging a myriad of attacks against reproductive rights, especially those of women, exposing their preferred method of scurrying in the darker corners of state capitols.

A major RRA campaign will also force libertarians and conservatives to either support it, or expose themselves as hypocritically opposing all government regulation except where it enslaves women. In contrast, the RRA campaign will establishes that progressives and liberals are the real protectors of freedom.

One major advantage of a federal constitutional amendment is that it will guarantee reproductive rights in states where such rights are unlikely to ever be respected otherwise, particularly Southern states. In this way, the RRA will work like the 19th Amendment, which was never ratified by any former Confederate state besides Tennessee and Arkansas, nor any Middle Atlantic or New England state. Passage of the RRA will also influence judges to stop permitting states to whittle away at women’s rights, because all abortion restrictions will be presumptively invalid.

Finally, the Margaret Sanger Reproductive Rights Amendment evokes the memory of the Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Amendment (passed as the 19th Amendment in 1920) and the Lucretia Mott Equal Rights Amendment (ultimately defeated in 1982), thus taking up the mantle of those golden struggles for women.The RRA also invokes the movement to win voting rights for African-Americans in Southern states during the 1960s, which ultimately led to passage of the 24th Amendment (1964) against requiring voters to pay a “poll tax” to vote.

As a first step toward making the Reproductive Rights Amendment a reality, please sign the petition for the Amendment that has been created to urge U.S. Representatives and Senators to pass the RRA. For more information about the Reproductive Rights Amendment, please see www.reproductiverightsamendment.com, currently a rapidly-growing Facebook group, and the “National Progressive Review” at www.nationalprogressive.com.

MARGARET SANGER REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AMENDMENT 

Section 1. Congress shall make no law denying or abridging the reproductive rights of the People, nor any state or combination of states, territories, and Indian tribes.

Section 2. The right of persons in the United States to control their reproduction shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, any State, or combination of states, territories, and Indian tribes.

Section 3. The right of females to decide the disposition of their reproductive organs and biological processes within and without their bodies shall be supreme and inviolable, and no one may interfere with that right for any reason, under color of law or otherwise.

Section 4. No person shall be denied the right to learn about reproduction, control over reproduction, or sexuality, regardless of age or topic.

Section 5. No person shall be denied the right to receive information, devices,  medications, and other substances and access to methods for reproductive control through purchase, gift, or lending.

Section 6. No tax, fee, levy, license, differential tax treatment, or other charge or restriction shall be levied upon information, devices, medications, substances, insurance, and services for reproductive control and the exercise of sexuality, other than one levied by a jurisdiction upon the sale or use of merchandise and services generally.

Section 7. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights over human reproduction, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People, male, female, and others alike.

Section 8. While this article is self-executing and inviolable, Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation consistent with this article.

 

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