10 Reasons to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment

10 Reasons to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment:

  1. The vague, poorly written language of the ERA does not allow any distinction to be made between men and women – even when it makes sense to do so based on their biological differences.

As a result, the ERA will harm women AND their unborn children by overturning laws and programs that benefit them.

Harm to unborn children:

  1. The ERA would be used to overturn all restrictions on abortion (including the partial birth abortion ban, 3rd-trimester abortion ban and parental notice of minors seeking an abortion).  
  2. The ERA would be used to mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions.

Stop ERAIn both New Mexico and Connecticut, their state ERAs were used in the courts to overturn restrictions on abortions and mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions with the rationale that since abortion is unique to women, restricting abortions is a form of sex discrimination. ” (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998; and Doe v. Maher, 515 A.2d 134 [Conn Super. Ct. 1986])

Harm to women

  1. The ERA would overturn laws and practices that benefit women because they would be viewed as showing preferential treatment to women.  The laws and practices that would be overturned include:
    • Workplace laws that provide special accommodations for pregnant women
    • State labor laws and guidelines which benefit women who do heavy, manual work
    • Government programs that support women as mothers such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutritional program (WIC)
    • Social Security benefits for stay-at-home mothers based on their spouse’s income.  Justice Ginsberg claims that the current gender neutral benefit language is still a violation of the equality principle because it encourages women to stay out of the workforce, and as such she would overturn the benefit.
    • Exemption of women from the military draft and front-line combat. Currently, women who feel they are physically able can choose to enlist in the military. The ERA, however, would require that all women be drafted and placed on front-line combat in equal ratios to men.
    • Laws and presumptions that support women in the areas of alimony, child support, and requirements of husbands to pay for their dependent wives’ medical bills.  The ERA will also wipe out state laws that exempt a wife from having to pay her husband’s debts even if he deserts her with children to support.
    • All other laws that provide preferential treatment for women 
  1. ERA would impact the privacy and safety of women and girls by removing gender designations for bathrooms, locker rooms, jails and hospital rooms. 
  2. The ERA will not give women any more rights than they currently have. Women already have claim to equal rights through the 14th Amendment (section 1) as well as numerous other laws in virtually all areas of American life – employment (including equal pay), education, credit eligibility, housing, public accommodations, etc. The US Supreme Court has already applied the 14th Amendment to women’s issues (United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996)).
  3. ERA won’t erase the gender wage gap. Women are already guaranteed equal pay through the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and can seek remediation through the EEOC.  The currently quoted wage gap between men and women is a misunderstood statistic in which the average wages of all full-time working men and women are compared in one lump sum of men to women across all occupations and education levels.  This doesn’t allow for an equal pay comparison.  When we compare the wages of men and women within the same career, in similar positions, at the same age, the wage gap narrows to 98 cents for women compared to a dollar for men. Even when we compare within career fields, key factors such as years worked, the level of education, and time flexibility of job, etc. are not factored into the comparison (see “An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women” U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2009).
  4. The ERA would also transfer large amounts of legislative power from the states to Congress creating a greater imbalance of power and placing sensitive issues under the less responsive federal government.

Section 2 of the ERA requires that Congress be given the power to enact the provisions of the ERA.As a result, states would lose their legislative abilities in regards to family law (marriage, divorce, alimony, custody, adoption, and property), sex crime laws, public and private schools, insurance, prison regulations and any other areas of law impacted by gender.

  1. It’s clear that ERA sponsors intended for the ERA to overturn all restrictions on abortion.

Efforts to soften the extreme nature of the ERA via amendments were rejected by the supporters of the ERA when the ERA was being drafted in Congress. Courts will look to this legislative history for legislative intent as they interpret the ERA. The sample amendment below that was rejected shows that the supporters intended the applications of the ERA to be extreme and without any protection for women or their unborn children:

This amending language for the ERA was rejected by the supporters: “The provisions of this article shall not impair the validity, however, of any laws of the United States or any State which exempt women from compulsory military service, or from service in combat units of the Armed Forces; or extend protections or exemptions for wives, mothers, or widows; or impose upon fathers responsibility for the support of children; or secure privacy to men or women, or boys or girls; or make punishable as crimes rape, seduction, or other sexual offenses” (Cong. Rec., pp. S9538–S9540).

The following amendment was also proposed to make the ERA-abortion neutral, but it was repeatedly rejected by ERA supporters: “Nothing in this Article shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.”  It’s clear they intended for the ERA to overturn all restrictions on abortion.

  1. The accepted time limit for ratification of Constitutional amendments is 7 years. ERA failed in 1979. Five states voted to rescind their earlier approval of ERA. Any vote for ERA today is null and void and would be an embarrassment to the state.

For more information, please contact Stop-ERA Illinois State Chairman, Elise Bouc at ebouc7@gmail.com or 847.707.1217