Democrats seek to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

By Senator James Inhofe and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith

When President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn into office, there was a grand celebration by pro-abortion groups. They see the Biden-Harris administration as their chance to dramatically expand access to abortion on demand.

How? In multiple ways, not the least of which is through the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Recently, House Democrats pushed through a resolution to remove the deadline Congress gave states in 1972 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Clearly, they didn’t care that it is the view of the Department of Justice that such action isn’t permissible and that a district court ruled earlier this month that the deadline has firmly expired.

They claim that they are trying to resurrect the ERA – even if their actions are unconstitutional – to promote women’s empowerment, to fight discrimination and to create greater protections for women against assault, harassment and gender-based violence. These are noble causes, but we don’t need the ERA to complete them.

Women are protected from discrimination under the law through the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says no state shall deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protection under the law. That’s pretty strong – and pretty clear as well.

But just in case, women’s rights are also protected by the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and more.

The original advocates for the ERA believed it was also necessary so women could have greater access to higher education, access to banking and lending resources to start their own businesses, and to provide greater protections against domestic violence and gender-based violence.

Yet, without the ERA, women today are attending college at higher rates than men and nearly 40% of U.S. businesses are women-owned. There are 114% more female entrepreneurs today than there were just 20 years ago.

Furthermore, while we can always do more to protect women from domestic violence or other gender-based violence, enacting the ERA could actually harm the protections that celebrate the differences between men and women in law – threatening women-only prisons, locker rooms, and Title IX protections for women’s sports, just to name a few.  

So, acknowledging all that, why do the Democrats still want to ratify the ERA? The National Organization for Women (NOW) revealed its true goal when it announced: "an ERA – properly interpreted – could negate the hundreds of laws that have been passed restricting access to abortion care and contraception."

Ah. There it is. Lest you think this is a single position, NARAL wrote in a national alert that, "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…"

What they are really saying is enacting the ERA as a constitutional amendment would kill the numerous pro-life policies that each year continue to give a voice to the voiceless and protect the millions of unborn children – including women, the very population this amendment deceptively purports to protect.

They know they have to do this because they are losing the fight on abortion on demand through science. Remember: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were clear that access to abortion was not an absolute right – and is based on a standard of fetal viability, on which science has made great strides since 1973.

Science has progressed so far in advancing the viability of tiny unborn lives that Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, vice president of the Brennan Center for Justice said, "…even the technical, technological underpinnings of [Roe] always seemed likely to expire… Technology was always going to move us to a place where the trimester framework didn’t make sense…"

Furthermore, this does not address the fact that, regardless of technological advances, an individual’s level of development should have nothing to do with whether that individual is deemed worthy to live – every person has inherent worth and value, no matter how young or how old.

Clearly, Democrats need a new reason to defend their radical efforts to destroy innocent lives – and they are hiding that cause under the guise of women’s rights. Let’s stop using spin and acknowledge the three key truths.

First – that men and women are equal under the law in our Constitution.

Second – we can always do more to promote equality and end discrimination for all Americans, but the way to do that isn’t through divisive constitutional amendments.

And, finally, we must stop pretending that the right for all unborn children to live is in opposition to women’s equality. Otherwise, we are doing a huge disservice to our society and killing generations yet to be born.

U.S. Senator James “Jim” Inhofe (R-Olka.) and U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).