We’re One State From Ratifying the ERA, But Do We Still Need It?

The year was 1972, and the women’s rights movement was arguably at its peak when Congress first passed the Equal Rights Amendment. Now, nearly a half a century later, we almost have enough states to ratify the ERA. But do we even need it anymore?

The answer is yes — and maybe more than ever.

The ERA was written in order to provide extra protections against gender discrimination, which at the time was a†fairly new concept to the American public. Women had only recently joined the workforce,†and they still lagged far behind men in obtaining their degrees. Additionally, women often lacked resources like the ability to enter into contracts on their own or have their own credit cards for expenses.

Obviously, much has changed in the decades since then. Now women as a whole hold more higher degrees than men, are making headway into traditionally “male” industries like science, tech and manufacturing — and†they’re even slowly closing the wage gap.

Sadly, women†also remain the victims of pay discrimination and advancement in jobs. They’re restricted and penalized during pregnancy, and — until Obamacare — they were forced to pay more for their their health insurance coverage simply because they may at some point need maternity coverage. And with the Trump administration announcing it will no longer defend the ACA in court, that “woman tax” is very likely†to return soon.

The ERA could†federally prohibit†this sort of discrimination, rather than relying on the patchwork of state-based rules that are in place now. And now that†Illinois has ratified the amendment, only one more state needs to get on board to provide the 38 needed to officially add it to the constitution. The end could almost be in sight.

Or maybe not. The deadline for ratifying the amendment passed decades ago, although ERA supporters argue that there never should have been a deadline in the first place. Also, of the states remaining to ratify, well, things don’t look that friendly.

Virginia is probably the best bet for a potential pickup, especially as the state has moved blue after the last series of elections. But ERA opponents will try to argue that it has been far too long, and that the entirety of the country would need to start the ratification process all over again.

If that happens, well, you can expect hard campaigning against ratification — maybe even harder than when conservatives, following the lead of Phyllis Schlafly, did it the first time. We’ve seen during the 2016 presidential election that on-the-ground organization in red states is off the charts, and it’s that same network that they’ll use to block the amendment from permanently becoming part of the Constitution.

The conservative argument against the ERA will be two pronged — claiming that sexual discrimination doesn’t exist anymore so the amendment is unnecessary, and presenting it as opening the door for undoing all of the abortion restrictions in the country.

After the Illinois ratification, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life,†told†LifeNews:

The ERA as written…would be the most pro-abortion legislation ever adopted by any American legislature.†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…These restrictions, overwhelmingly supported by the American public, would be deemed discriminatory on the basis of sex under the ERA. Itís no coincidence that every organization that supports abortion in the United States also supports ratification of the ERA.

Then again, if that were true, perhaps that is the surest sign that abortion restrictions are an unconstitutional form of gender discrimination — just as we’ve been arguing from the start.

Photo Credit: Charles Edward Miller/Flickr


Joan E
Joan Eyesterday

Thanks, silja. Hang in there, sister.

Amanda M
Amanda Myesterday

Debbie W, my younger daughter and I attended a local Women's March this year, and I saw a fellow marcher with a sign that read "I can't believe I'm 72 and I STILL have to fight against this BS!" Thanks to Twitler's regime, the fight for women's rights is more vital than ever!

silja s
silja salonenyesterday

I just read the comments of Joan E ... and I agree with her. It truly was a time filled with hope. there was an energy of doing the right thing. being of service to others. we women were banning together and working for the positive interest of ALL people. here we are fighting for the same rights; with my fist in the air once again "yes sister we can do this"

Janis K
Janis K2 days ago

It's way past time, lets get this done!

Sue H
Sue H2 days ago

I'd love to know Why we have to Fight for equality.... endlessly :(

Joan E
Joan E2 days ago

We were on the upswing in 1972. It was a time of excitement and hope. Now we are facing the same enemies all over again.

Linda L
Linda L3 days ago

Now I understand the opposition better- thanks

Winn A
Winnie A3 days ago


pam w
pam w3 days ago

I know you were just making a point, Robin. OF COURSE WE DO! Now more than ever!

Dave fleming
Dave fleming3 days ago

Keep going strong