Madam Speaker, I am a woman, so I obviously care and support equal rights for women. But I oppose this bill for three reasons.
First, the bill is not constitutional. When the ERA originally passed Congress, it explicitly set a deadline for ratification. The deadline was in 1979, almost 41 years ago. Only 35 States of the 38 needed had ratified it. Then five States unratified it. So the count is down to 30. Thus, the equal rights amendment was dead.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a legal opinion just last month, reiterating that the ERA’s ratification timeline is expired.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg said: “The deadline passed. I would like to see a new beginning. I would like it to start over.”
Secondly, the ERA is not necessary. Women’s equality of rights under the law is already recognized in our Constitution in the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The ACLU’s women’s rights director wrote: ‘‘It has been clearly understood that the 14th Amendment prohibits discrimination based on sex.’’ Plus, many Federal, State, and local laws already prohibit sex discrimination.
The third reason I oppose this bill: If ratified, the ERA would be used by proabortion groups to undo pro-life legislation and lead to more abortions and taxpayer funding of abortions. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what pro-abortion groups have done and what they say.
In 1998, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the State’s ERA required the State to fund abortions. NARAL Pro-Choice America, which supports abortions, asserted that the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion and would require judges to strike down antiabortion laws.
In a 2019 letter to the House Judiciary Committee, the ACLU stated: The equal rights amendment could provide an additional layer of protection against restrictions on abortion. In conclusion, this bill is unconstitutional. The ERA is unnecessary, since constitutional Federal, State, and local laws already guarantee equal protections. And the ERA, if ratified, would be used by pro-abortion groups to undo pro-life laws.
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Author: Rep. Debbie Lesko