ERA: A Failed Idea Even Before It Gets to Court

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Before I was even born, the Equal Rights Amendment failed twice to win the hearts and minds of voters across the country. But that’s not the end of the story. Over the last few years, the abortion lobby has tried to resurrect a 100-year-old bad idea, to force a change into the Constitution with far reaching implications. This week, Democratic lawmakers in Virginia used their new-found majority to push through a vote for ratification of the ERA, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice recently determined that the ERA’s ratification time limit, which long ago expired, is lawful and final.  

So why push something that can’t be ratified? 

It’s abortion, plain and simple, as the ERA should really stand for the Everything Related to Abortion act. The goal is not women’s equality under the law but taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, finally to be located in our Constitution.  

This isn’t idle speculation. In state courts where state-based ERA legislation has been debated, judges have found that full funding of abortion is required.  

And the abortion lobby knows this.  

In March 2019, NARAL admitted in an e-mail to supporters that ERA is about abortion. Their chief lobbyist wrote, "In order to protect our reproductive freedom today it’s essential we pass the newly re-introduced bill to ratify the ERA. With its ratification, the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion by clarifying that the sexes have equal rights, which would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws because they violate both the constitutional right to privacy and sexual equality." 

When the ERA was first proposed, the framework of laws in place today that protect women’s interests didn’t exist.  

ERA specifically states that a person’s sex may not be considered in making a legal preference. But consider the many protections designed for women since the ERA was conceived that would be impacted and harmed, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972; the Federal Minimum Wage Act of 1974, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.  

Writing in her book “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code,” even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has admitted that the ERA would hurt the more than 800 laws that have been created to ensure women’s equality and for protection in education and the workplace. 

Ironically, she might get to weigh in on the ERA should it advance that far, as the one thing we know about the ERA is that this is headed to court where the abortion lobby has used and abused the judiciary to force its public policy on the American people without their input for years. But that is changing.   

With up to 187 federal judges that the Trump administration has appointed and the Mitch McConnell-led Senate has confirmed, as well as the two Supreme Court justices, it’s pretty safe to say the American judiciary is being reformed. 

No longer would Planned Parenthood be able to rely on judges like Judge William Orrick who, despite helping to found a Planned Parenthood clinic, is now overseeing the trial in California against my friend, David Daleiden. An American hero, he showed in video recordings that Planned Parenthood and other abortionists were and continue to sell the body parts of children they abort, violating the human conscience and possibly federal laws. 

In other words, this attempt by the Democratic-controlled Virginia legislature to “ratify” the ERA, ignoring the 1982 expired time limit, is about Abortion Inc. getting desperate. 

Recently, Michelle Williams’ Golden Globe speech featured the tired mantra about women needing abortion to succeed, which put the abortion industries’ recycled playbook on full display: convince women that they can’t handle family and career; sell those women abortions; use the courts, no matter who gets hurt.  

But a new strategy is needed for this new generation. 

A society that cares about equal rights must work to help families succeed and to equip pregnant and parenting students get the skills they need. As part of our efforts to help women achieve economic equality, Students for Life of America recently developed a ratings systems for schools, looking at students’ five major needs to stay in school while pregnant and parenting. We then partner with schools to make needed changes.  

Equality for women must be advanced through better family and medical leave policies as well as encouraging flexible work arrangements for parents. Other common-sense reforms can be applied to help children in foster care and to facilitate adoption, like one of our current efforts in Virginia

While this isn’t a definitive list, it illustrates the reality that there are modern, creative solutions available to help women and families succeed without enshrining abortion into the Constitution or destroying a framework of laws designed to help women reach their potential.  

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, “Explicitly Pro-Life.” 



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