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House votes to remove deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

  • The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove a deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, clearing the way for the progressive amendment to be added to the United States constitution.
  • Conservative leaders and pro-life activists have condemned the ERA for years, warning that the ERA would enshrine a right to abortion into the Constitution and remove gender specific protections for women.
  • Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly led strong opposition against the ERA in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Her daughter, Anne Schlafly Cori, said last week that “nothing in ERA would provide any additional rights for women.”

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove a deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, clearing the way for the progressive amendment to be added to the United States constitution.

The largely procedural ERA passed the House almost entirely along party lines, 222 to 204, the New York Times reported. It removes the deadline for the ERA’s ratification which had expired in the 1980’s when it was not ratified by 38 states, as was required by the constitution.

Conservative leaders and pro-life activists have condemned the ERA for years, warning that among other dangers, it would enshrine a right to abortion into the Constitution, remove gender-specific protections for women, and force women to participate in the draft.

Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment in 2020 after Nevada and Illinois ratified it, the Times reported, but the amendment will need more Republican senators to support it if it is to pass the Senate.

House Democrats dressed in white, the color of suffragists, as they voted on the amendment Wednesday.

“I wish that I could tell you that we had more Republican support,” Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said during a Wednesday news conference, according to the Times. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get some traction over here.”

“It is time for us to stop with the excuses, it is time to do what’s right and make sure that women are in the Constitution,” said Democratic California Rep. Jackie Speier. “Just make us equal under the law.”

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly was instrumental in defeating the ERA when it was first proposed, leading strong opposition against the amendment in the 1970s and 1980s. Her daughter, Anne Schlafly Cori, told The Federalist last week that “nothing in ERA would provide any additional rights for women.”

“It would actually harm women, particularly vulnerable and at-risk women, by eliminating single-sex correctional facilities and shelters, labor laws that favor women and pregnancy accommodations, school athletics and privacy, government set-asides and programs for women,” Cori wrote. “ERA would also require girls to register for the selective service and be subject to military combat. ERA lost in the 1970s because American women did not want to lose rights.”

Pro-life activists have long condemned the ERA. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a Wednesday statement that the ERA might as well be called “the Abortion Rights Act.” Dannenfelser emphasized that the ERA would enshrine the right to abortion in the U.S. constitution “alongside the foundational principles of our great nation.”

“Abortion is the greatest violation of human rights in our day — the clear antithesis of equality,” Dannenfelser said. “Its ratification would mean the indefinite blocking of state and federal policy to protect the rights of children in the womb. ”

Douglas D. Johnson, who direct’s the National Right to Life Committee’s ERA project, suggested that mainstream media has promulgated a narrative “promoted by ERA activists and associated Hollywood stars, backed by a bevy of ambitious politicians.”

This narrative, according to Johnson, is that “after a hundred-year struggle, the 1972 ERA is on the verge of becoming part of the Constitution.”

“But the ERA-is-alive drive is really a political pressure campaign, dressed up in legal terminology,” Johnson said. “Pro-ERA and pro-abortion advocacy groups, Democratic congressional leaders, and Democratic attorneys general hope to intimidate the federal courts into permitting them to air-drop the long-expired ERA into the Constitution. We take seriously this well-resourced effort to evade constitutional requirements, but their scheme is unlikely to ultimately succeed.”

The vote on the ERA occurred the same day that senators debated the Equality Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Equality Act, or H.R.5, would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the stated purpose of preventing “discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.” Should it pass, the legislation would touch a variety of hot button topics including abortion, marriage, family, gender, sexuality, biological males in women’s sports and locker rooms, and more.

Under the Equality Act, individuals who identify as another gender cannot be denied access to the locker room of their choice. It would also prevent Americans from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to challenge and defend against any provisions in the Equality Act that violated their religious freedoms.

The legislation passed the House of Representatives Feb. 25.

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