Medusa’s Pink Hat & the ERA
Medusa’s Pink Hat & the ERA
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   10.17.17

Like Medusa, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has reared its chthonic head again, and this time it’s wearing a silly pink hat over all those snakes.

Here’s what the ERA actually says:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Since the ERA says precisely nothing about women, why do feminists continue to claim that it’s all about women’s rights? In fact, the harm the ERA will cause will redound primarily to women.

What the ERA will do is prohibit the public recognition of sexual differentiation, and we all know who really wants to pretend that biological sex has no meaning.

Moreover, of which basic rights are women now deprived? The right to vote, assemble, associate, speak, petition their government, exercise their religion? Nope, we’ve got all those.

So, let’s peek under those pink hats and see what snakes are writhing about, restive and eager to emerge and strike:

  • The ERA would be used to nullify or invalidate laws that restrict tax-funded abortion. In Doe v. Maher, the Connecticut Supreme Court stated, “Since only women become pregnant, discrimination against pregnancy by not funding abortions…is sex-oriented discrimination…The Court concludes that the regulation that restricts the funding of abortions…violates Connecticut’s Equal Rights Amendment.”The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) explains that multiple legal experts, including state supreme courts, have argued that the language of the ERA “makes it unconstitutional for…Medicaid programs to refuse to fund ‘medically necessary’ abortions (which just means abortions performed by licensed medical professionals) if procedures sought by men (e.g., prostate surgery) are funded.”

A New Mexico Supreme Court judge wrote that “there is no comparable restriction on medically necessary services relating to physical characteristics or conditions that are unique to men. Indeed, we can find no provision in the Department’s regulations that disfavor any comparable, medically necessary procedure unique to the male anatomy… [the restriction on funding abortions] undoubtedly singles out for less favorable treatment a gender-linked condition that is unique to women.” This judge neglected to mention the inconvenient presence of preborn babies that render abortion wholly different from any “medical procedure unique to the male anatomy.” Treating different conditions differently does not violate any commitment to equality, fairness, or justice.

  • The ERA would be used to eliminate state laws that restrict abortion. The NRLC writes that “This same analysis—that limits on abortion are by definition a form of sex discrimination and therefore impermissible under ERA—will be used to invalidate laws requiring parental notification or consent for minors’ abortions; any federal or state restrictions even on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions; and federal and state ‘conscience laws,’ which allow government-supported medical facilities and personnel—including religiously affiliated hospitals—to refuse to participate in abortions.”The ACLU writes, “Hundreds of bills that place limitations and restrictions on vital reproductive health care services [i.e., abortion] have been passed by Congress and state legislatures. The Equal Rights Amendment would provide another important weapon in the battle to resist this legislative onslaught aimed at destroying women’s rights to make their own reproductive decisions.
  • It would be used to grant unrestricted access to opposite-sex spaces and activities to men and women who pretend to be the sex they are not. Single-sex restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, shelters, semi-private hospital rooms, nursing home rooms, dormitories, colleges, athletic teams, fraternities, sororities, clubs, and organizations would become co-ed or risk federal lawsuits. Even mother-daughter/father-son/father-daughter events at public schools would be eradicated.
  • It would be used to force women to register for the Selective Service and if the day should ever come when the draft is reinstated, to be drafted.
  • It would give enormous new powers to the federal government that now belong to the states. Section II of the ERA states that “The Congress shall have the power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article.” The ERA would give Congress the power to legislate on all those areas of law which include traditional differences of treatment on account of sex: marriage, property laws, divorce and alimony, child custody, adoptions, prison regulations, and insurance.For example, the Social Security System pays full-time homemaker “wives” 50 percent of their husband’s benefits over and above the check he receives. Upon their husbands’ deaths, widows receive the full benefits that their husbands had been receiving.  (The law also gives this benefit to a dependent husband, but nearly all dependent spouses are women.)

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her 1977 book “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code” that the concept of “dependent women, whose primary responsibility is to care for children and household … must be eliminated from the code if it is reflect the equality principle.”

Ratification history

To ratify this proposed amendment, “progressives” are attempting to circumvent deadlines that expired over three decades ago on the supposedly moribund ERA. The ERA, first introduced in 1972, had a seven-year deadline for ratification, which, by a congressional resolution was extended another three years.

The proposed Equal Rights Amendment needs 38 states for passage. By its final deadline in 1982, it had the approval of only 35 states, so supporters developed the “three-state strategy” which seeks to avoid returning the issue to all 50 states. In effect, Leftist lawmakers claim that since the ERA was extended once, deadlines can be extended in perpetuity. In other words, to Leftists legal deadlines, like other laws, can be ignored at their whim.

Leftist lawmakers defend their strategy to pass the ERA by comparing it to the passage of the Twenty-seventh amendment to the U.S. Constitution 203 years after it was proposed. They fail to mention, however, that the Twenty-seventh Amendment, unlike the ERA, did not have a ratification deadline.

Proponents of the ERA also argue that because the ERA ratification deadline was in the preamble rather than the body of the ERA, it’s essentially irrelevant and non-binding. But the Congressional Research Service explains the following:

In the case of the 18th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd Amendments, the “sunset” ratification provision was incorporated in the body of the amendment itself. For subsequent amendments, however, Congress determined that inclusion of the time limit within its body “cluttered up” the proposal. Consequently, all but one of the subsequently proposed amendments proposed later (the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th, and the ERA) placed the limit in the preamble, rather than in the body of the amendment itself.

It’s important to note that prior to the ratification deadline, five states had sought to rescind their approval of the ERA. The Supreme Court of the United States was poised to take up their cases when the deadline took effect at which point the Court held that their cases were moot. If the deadline is now rendered moot by liberal lawmakers, one would assume that those states that sought to rescind their approval would be able to proceed with their pursuit of “rescission of acts of ratification.” In other words, it would seem that those states that wished to rescind their approval of the ERA would be able to pursue that effort because their pursuit ended based on the legal legitimacy of the ratification deadline.

Leftists have yet another effective weapon in their arsenal to crush culture: Just add the word “rights” to any legislation they want and presto change-o, they’ve got themselves a go-to soundbite.

Anyone who opposes co-ed restrooms becomes “anti-‘trans’ rights.” Just ignore the fact that objectively immutably biologically male persons have no right to access women’s private facilities.

Anyone who believes marriage has a nature central to which is sexual differentiation becomes “anti-‘gay’ rights.” Just ignore the fact that those who are erotically attracted to persons of their same sex have no intrinsic right to unilaterally redefine marriage by stripping it of its central constituent and most enduring, cross-cultural feature.

And anyone who opposes a wholly unnecessary amendment to the Constitution becomes “anti-women’s rights.” Just ignore the facts that the amendment doesn’t mention women and that there is not a single right of which women are deprived. Oh, and please ignore those snakes writhing under Medusa’s silly pink hat.

Take ACTION:  Click HERE to email your state senator to urge him/her to oppose the ERA, SJRCA 4.

Listen to Laurie read this article in this podcast:

Read more herehere and here.

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Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins became the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High School’s writing center in Deerfield, Illinois. Her cultural commentaries have been carried on a number of pro-family websites nationally and internationally, and Laurie has appeared on numerous radio programs across the country. In addition, Laurie has spoken at the Council for National Policy and educational conferences sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition. She has been married to her husband for forty-four years, and they have four grown children and ten grandchildren....
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