National Leaders Denounce Democrats’ War on Women ‘One-Two Punch’: Equality Act and Equal Rights Amendment

Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment carry a banner down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. on Friday, August 26, 1977. The march followed a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden during which U.S. President Carter signed a Women's Equality Day proclamation. (AP Photo)
AP Photo

National leaders are voicing strong opposition to the Equality Act and the Equal Rights Amendment, both of which, they say, are the epitome of the Democrats’ “war on women” and faith.

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Equality Act, legislation that would end the federal legal recognition of male and female sex, as the House voted to remove the decades-old deadline for the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which Democrats claim will formalize the protection of women’s rights.

National faith and pro-life leaders, as well as feminists, however, are denouncing both measures as representative of the Democrats’ “war on women.”

A coalition of pro-life leaders sent a letter to congressional leaders, urging them not to resurrect the ERA, while another wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging opposition to the Equality Act.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action said:

Today, the Democrats in the House and Senate engaged in a one-two punch against the Constitution and people of faith in the U.S. In the vote on the ERA, abortion activists seek to get abortion into the Constitution with a now vaguely worded call for protections based on ‘sex,’ but in the ‘Equality Act’ we learn that they define sex so broadly that women can be left behind.

Hawkins explained the Equality Act is “falsely named,” because it “makes people of faith unequal under the law, attacking the conscience rights protections of all who disagree with this radical restructuring of our society.”

A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the father of two young girls, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said plainly in his comments during the hearing the Equality Act “reflects the radical Democrats’ war on women,” and explained:

The Democrats have made the decision that women are not high enough on the hierarchy of victims, and so this bill would, in effect, repeal Title IX, which created an incredible revolution of girls’ sports and women’s sports in colleges and universities, and in high schools and junior highs throughout this country, and it would repeal much of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Cruz asserted the Equality Act “is not a discrimination bill,” though Democrats want to portray themselves as champions of anti-discrimination.

“They don’t want to own the radical aspects of this bill,” the senator explained further, elaborating:

It is none of government’s business what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms. It is none of government’s business the sexual orientation or gender identity of adults in their own lives – this bill is not about that. This bill is about mandating that biological males should be allowed to compete in girl sports and women’s sports, effectively repealing Title IX. This bill is about suing pastors and churches, if they teach biblical teachings on sexuality and morality. This bill is about suing you, an individual citizen, if you dare speak and disagree with their mandated orthodoxy. This bill is about power, and this bill is dangerous.

As a pro-life leader, Hawkins explained the impact the Equality Act would have on unborn babies and Americans of faith:

The Equality Act will allow discrimination against pre-born babies and people of faith, as it strips First Amendment protections from those horrified by the loss of life from abortion, and forces taxpayers to fund abortions through all nine-months of pregnancy. Our focus should be on helping women succeed at home and work, not in forcing taxpayer-funded abortion to keep them on the job without families.

Feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) supports abortion rights, but has condemned both the Equality Act and the ERA.

WoLF states it opposes the ERA, in part, because the amendment has already been shown to be unnecessary as a vehicle to advance women’s equality since it was first proposed in 1921. Women have clearly made great strides without the ERA since the post-suffragist era, WoLF says, describing the amendment today as largely an appeal to emotion:

We are not persuaded by emotive appeals to symbolism, and we believe that the underlying assumption that the ERA would benefit women and girls is simply wrong. The ERA would weaken the ability to make provisions for women and girls separately from men and boys and we cannot support increasing the government’s power to remove sex-based protections. (To those who would argue these protections could be maintained even with the ERA, this article on the history of the ERA discusses how efforts to preserve these protections within the amendment itself have been repeatedly rejected.)

WoLF explains the ERA, if ratified, would “make it unconstitutional in almost all circumstances for the government to treat people differently on the basis of sex.”

“However, not all discrimination based on sex is illegal or harmful,” the feminists continue:

For example, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education generally, but the regulations permit discrimination based on sex in facilities and athletics because such discrimination is necessary to ensure equal opportunity for women and girls. Without the law recognizing the difference between men and women, sex-separated locker rooms and sports teams would be a violation of federal law. In fact, legal sex discrimination has also given us things like women’s shelters, sex-segregated prison housing, and the right to request a same-sex health care provider for intimate exams and procedures.

Pro-life leaders assert the ERA would enshrine a right to abortion in the Constitution.

Students for Life Action observed last year the chief lobbyist for abortion political advocacy group NARAL admitted in an email to supporters:

In order to protect our reproductive freedom today it’s essential we pass the newly re-introduced bill to ratify the ERA. With its ratification, the ERA would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion by clarifying that the sexes have equal rights, which would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws because they violate both the constitutional right to privacy and sexual equality.

In January 2020, however, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of the U.S. Justice Department delivered an opinion that asserted the ERA is dead and cannot be revived by Congress.

The ruling stated the deadline for ratification of the ERA set by Congress in 1972 is still valid:

Congress may not revive a proposed amendment after a deadline for its ratification has expired. Should Congress wish to propose the amendment anew, it may do so through the same procedures required to propose an amendment in the first instance, consistent with Article V of the Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had also affirmed the deadline to ratify the ERA had expired.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the ERA “may as well be called the Abortion Rights Act, as it would usher in extreme policy implications by enshrining a ‘right’ to abortion in the U.S. Constitution alongside the foundational principles of our great nation.”

“Abortion is the greatest violation of human rights in our day – the clear antithesis of equality,” Dannenfelser said. “Its ratification would mean the indefinite blocking of state and federal policy to protect the rights of children in the womb.”

Hawkins added much has changed in the last century since the ERA was first proposed.

“But today, abortion advocates have hijacked pleasant sounding words to create a legal hook for abortion in the U.S. Constitution and are refusing to acknowledge that their plan failed – again,” she said. “The ERA would create a foothold for abortion in our founding document, which would be one of many ways that the ERA would hurt women.”

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