According to supporters, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal rights for all citizens no matter what their sex is. However, pro-life advocates and conservatives long have warned that abortion activists would use the amendment to destroy the limited protections that America provides to unborn babies.
Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA on Wednesday after a state House vote of 72-45, the AP reports. If just one more state passes the amendment, it could be added to the U.S. Constitution.
“The ERA as written, and as contained in SJRCA 4, would be the most pro-abortion legislation ever adopted by any American legislature,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “Cloaked in language of equality, it would, in fact, remove all state and federal regulations and safeguards regarding abortion. It is this indisputable fact that, once publicized, stopped ratification of the ERA in its tracks in the last century.”
Modest, common-sense laws such as parental consent for minors could be overturned if the amendment is added to the Constitution, as could the gruesome partial-birth abortion method, Pavone said.
“These restrictions, overwhelmingly supported by the American public, would be deemed discriminatory on the basis of sex under the ERA,” he continued. “It’s no coincidence that every organization that supports abortion in the United States also supports ratification of the ERA.”
There is a possibility the ERA would fail, even if a 38th state ratifies it.
As has been the case for decades, the legislative debate over the Equal Rights Amendment was fraught with controversy. Opponents largely contended the measure was aimed at ensuring an expansion of abortion rights for women. Supporters said it was needed to give women equal standing in the nation’s founding document.
Opponents also contended the measure may be moot, since its original 1982 ratification deadline has long since expired. Supporters argued, however, that the 1992 ratification of the 1789 “Madison Amendment,” preventing midterm changes in congressional pay, makes the ERA a legally viable change to the Constitution.
State Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, an abortion rights opponent, called the measure “an alleged constitutional amendment” and warned it would be adopting an “illegal act.” But Breen also contended supporters “have no other thing they want to do” than expand abortion rights.
Meanwhile, pro-abortion lawmakers rejoiced at the ratification Wednesday.
“I am appalled and embarrassed that the state of Illinois has not done this earlier,” said state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, a Democrat. “I am proud to be on this side of history and I am proud to support not only all the women that this will help, that this will send a message to, but I am also here to be a role model for my daughter.”
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Racism also came into the discussion. The AP reports:
… many Republicans remained quiet, instead yielding their time to their black colleagues on the other side of the aisle who expressed concerns that the fight for women’s rights has largely been championed by white women, many of whom did not consider black women their equal.
“When the women finally got their right to vote, black women did not get our rights,” said Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat. “You want to say something (the ERA language) written in 1923 is going to protect me?”
Other Democrats, many of whom are also black, stressed that ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is more important than ever in the era of President Donald Trump.
Former National Right to Life Legislative Director Douglas Johnson previously talked with LifeNews.com about the ERA when the Arkansas state legislature defeated an attempt to ratify it in 2007.
He said the sweeping language of the 1972 ERA would be used as a legal weapon against virtually all laws that regulate abortion.
“In other states, major national pro-ERA organizations have argued that laws limiting tax-funded abortions or requiring parental consent for minors’ abortions violate ERAs,” Johnson explained.
Should the ERA be adopted, it would invalidate the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in Medicaid, and all state restrictions prohibiting tax-funded abortions. Likewise, it would nullify any federal or state restrictions on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions (since these are sought “only by women”).
Johnson said laws that allow government-supported medical facilities and personnel — including religiously affiliated hospitals — to refuse to participate in abortions likely would be in jeopardy as well.