As we have commemorated the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week, and as thousands of pro-life Americans are March(ing) for Life in our nation’s capital today, one of the most anti-life proposals of a bygone era is having a second moment in the spotlight. The Equal Right Amendment (ERA), long thought to be defunct, is re-emerging with the support of activists who argue that now is the time to amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee “equal rights” for women.
While the ERA promises legal equality among the sexes, it does away with important sex distinctions that have been indispensable in protecting women. The amendment language is simple: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” But Family Policy Alliance and many other pro-life organizations believe it will enshrine abortion rights in the Constitution and have other disastrous consequences for women and girls.
Although approved by Congress and sent to the states in 1972, only 35 of the needed 38 states ratified the amendment before it expired in 1982.
But that isn’t stopping Democrats from trying to resurrect the ERA. Nevada and Illinois ratified the amendment in recent years, and Virginia followed suit last week. With these three additions, the number of states that have ratified the ERA has now increased to the requisite 38, notwithstanding the 1982 deadline.
What is the future of the ERA? Well, that will be decided by Congress—and you, the engaged biblical citizens of this nation. Use our Action Center to tell your U.S. Representatives and Senators to oppose the ERA. It’s easy and only takes a minute of your time.
We’ve provided some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the ERA. Read below to learn more, but don’t forget to use our Action Center to contact your Representative and Senators. You can make a difference!
Q: Is the ERA necessary to protect women’s rights?
No. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already prohibits government discrimination against women and guarantees equal rights for “all persons” regardless of sex. The ERA isn’t needed to protect women’s rights. In fact, if the amendment were ratified, it would endanger spaces designed to protect women’s privacy and dignity, such as restrooms, locker rooms and fitting rooms.
Looking back, the movement to adopt the ERA fell apart in the 1970s when Phyllis Schlafly, a constitutional lawyer and conservative activist, persuasively argued that women stood to lose far more than they would gain.
Think about the implications of prohibiting “discrimination” on the basis of sex. Sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, and women’s shelters could all be opened to men. After all, wouldn’t it be “discrimination” to stop a man from using the female bathroom? Women’s and girls’ sports, too, would be threatened.
Many states have already opened women’s bathrooms and girls’ sports to biological males. The ERA would effectively require these policies nationwide and with a far greater reach than many would imagine.
Q: How would ratification of the ERA affect the pro-life victories achieved over the last several decades?
A: The ERA would enshrine government-funded abortion-on-demand in the Constitution. Restrictions on abortion would likely be overturned under the guise of protecting women from reproductive “discrimination,” which is impermissible under the ERA.
Moreover, several state and federal courts have already interpreted state ERAs as requiring government (meaning your tax dollars!) funding for abortion. A federal ERA would bring about the same result across the entire nation. That’s why some policy leaders have taken to calling the ERA the “Everything Related to Abortion” Amendment.
Q: The deadline for states to ratify ERA expired in 1982. Is it legally possible for the ERA to be revived?
A: Probably not. But Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to retroactively extend the deadline imposed by Congress when the amendment was sent to the states for ratification in 1972.
Most legal authorities—including the U.S. Justice Department and the National Archivist—have concluded that original cutoff date was final. If that’s not enough, it’s also worth noting that five of the 35 states that had ratified the amendment in the 1970s have since rescinded their support.
Because House Democrats are trying to sweep aside the lapsed deadline and ignore the efforts of five states to withdraw their ratification votes, it’s important that you contact your congresspeople and tell them to oppose the ERA. Use our Action Center to send an email to your Representative and Senators now.
For the family of believers,
Director of Advocacy, Family Policy Alliance of Idaho