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ERA argument heavy on hyperbole, light on facts


Beware of promises claiming to solve all of society’s ills with one controversial piece of legislation. Activists would have you believe passing the Equal Rights Amendment is the key to “reaching full human potential.” All we need to do is pass the ERA in Arizona, amending the U.S, Constitution, and women would finally be equal to men − is what they claim.

Sue Marceau laments women “still lack constitutional equality” because the ERA hasn’t been ratified by the requisite 38 states since its inception in 1972.

The notion that women are not equal, but mere victims trapped in the 1970s because we don’t have our own constitutional amendment is insulting as much as it is nonsense. For decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment protect women from unequal treatment under the law.

Cathi Herrod

Cathi Herrod

In United States v. Virginia (1996), the Court affirmed, “Since Reed [1971], the Court has repeatedly recognized that neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with equal protection when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature-equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.”

Even The American Civil Liberties Union acknowledges the Court’s protection of women citing more than 40 years of legal precedent to that fact. The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project Director, Lenora Lapidus, was adamant even back in 2011, “Since the 1971 case, Reed v. Reed, it has been clearly understood that the 14th Amendment prohibits discrimination based on sex. In decision after decision, many authored by conservative Supreme Court justices, this principle has been reaffirmed.”

So much for the argument that women “lack constitutional equality.” But wait. That was in 2011, now the ACLU ignores Reed and all 40 years of precedent, claiming we need the ERA. The reason is found at the bottom of their ACLU/ERA website. The ERA would pave the way to “reproductive freedom,” AKA near unrestricted abortion.

When Marceau denies the ERA is about abortion, she contradicts the ACLU, the National Organization for Women, which writes, “the ERA properly interpreted could negate the hundreds of laws that have been passed restricting access to abortion,” and NARAL Pro Choice America, which fundraised on the link between the ERA and abortion writing, “The ERA would…require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws.”

Pro-abortion activists have found that the ERA can be used to roll back commonsense abortion restrictions and force taxpayers to fund abortions. They’ve done it in New Mexico and Connecticut and they’re attempting it in Pennsylvania  They argue restrictions on abortion violate the state’s ERA because there are no such restrictions on medical procedures for men. Never mind the fact that there are no male procedures that compare to abortion.

Marceau also goes into a lengthy description of how the ERA is all about families, making claims that rely on half-truths. Nothing gets women motivated more than telling them they don’t get paid as much as men for the same work. Except, it’s not true.

In order to come up with the “unfair wage gap” activists claim, one has to ignore some critical facts: Women usually don’t do the exact same job, working the exact same hours, with the exact same background as men.Women typically work fewer hours than men; they choose different education and training; they choose different career paths, and they take time out of the work force or choose working from home over higher wages.

Secondly, when the work is comparable and women are denied equal pay, the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, and myriad similar laws ensure equal pay under the threat of penalty. Just ask the female professors at the University of Arizona who are using those laws to sue the school for allegedly violating standing equal pay protections.

It’s clear women are considered equal under the U.S. Constitution.

It’s also clear the ERA is not about equality for women. Rather, it could strip away reasonable restrictions on abortion and force taxpayers to pay for i

What’s not clear is why those in power who support the ERA continue to sell it based on false claims − while denying it has anything to do with abortion. ERA proponents ought to make their case to the public based on fact: The ERA is not necessary for women’s equality or reaching one’s “full human potential,” but it could set the stage for virtually unrestricted, taxpayer funded abortion.

Cathi Herrod is president of Center for Arizona Policy.

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