Pro-life, pro-family activists sound alarm on ‘anti-woman’ Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia
VIRGINIA, January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion activists are pushing the Virginia legislature to ratify the decades-old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the national constitutional amendment conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly famously stopped. And pro-life and pro-family leaders are sounding the alarm over the push.
“Virginia is what the proponents of the ERA are claiming [is] the 38th state, which would be the final state needed to ratify in their minds,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, told LifeSiteNews.
In order for an amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution, at least 38 states need to approve it. However, “there are several states that have rescinded [their ratification votes] and many would argue that the deadline to ratify was in 1982 and there is no legal path” forward.
“If the Equal Rights Amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution, the courts have to begin to give strict scrutiny to the issue of gender,” said Cobb. “And where they’ve done that at the state levels already, we’ve seen them interpret it to mean that we have to have taxpayer-funded abortion.”
“Most people believed that [the ERA] was long-dead,” she continued, but are horrified to learn this may be used as a path to enshrine abortion as a “right” in the U.S. Constitution. “Once they learn that this is not actually a joke, that it is in fact in front of our legislature and could in fact attempt some kind of manipulated legal pathway, they’re very alarmed.”
Virginia law and federal law are “replete” with laws that ensure the equality of women, and there have been plenty of court cases to clarify that the 5th and 14th amendments apply fully to women, Cobb added.
ERA would destroy legal protections for women
The ERA has cleared a Virginia Senate committee and may have the votes to pass the full Senate. If it passes the House, it won’t need a signature from the governor, even though pro-abortion Gov. Ralph Northam supports it.
“We are aiming to ensure that the members of the House Privileges and Elections Committee understand its consequences enough to block the bill there,” said Cobb.
In addition to creating a legal foundation for abortion in the U.S. Constitution, the ERA would eliminate all distinctions between the sexes in law, opening the door for co-ed prisons, locker rooms, hospital rooms, domestic abuse shelters, and more.
“In order to ensure ‘equality’ for women, this language creates sameness between men and women. And in the 21st century, we don’t embrace sameness. We embrace womanhood in all of its unique and wonderful ways” as equal to men “but not the same as” being a man, said Cobb.
“And so that’s…women having to be drafted – not choosing to serve in the military, but actually having to because they have to be treated the same,” she explained. “This comes into play in all the areas where our law or our society allows there to be any kind of separate or differentness” between men and women. That means “sports teams, scholarships, privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms and shower rooms – these are all areas society has said it’s okay to acknowledge that we are not all the same. But this could radically change under an Equal Rights Amendment.”
The Family Foundation also warns on its website that the ERA would threaten the tax-exempt status of churches with doctrines, policies, or practices for male-only clergy. It would mean women would have to pay more for auto and life insurance “regardless of the statistical evidence showing that women live longer than men and have better driving records.” Sex-segregated sports would be eliminated.
“Male and female prisons will likely become integrated, resulting in dangerous conditions and harsher discipline for women since they would be required to be treated in the same way as men.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in Sex Bias in the U.S. Code that the ERA will change 800 federal laws, including the elimination of social security benefits for wives and widows.
Abortion, LGBT activists take aim at commonsense state laws
“The Equal Rights Amendment is a Trojan horse for taxpayer-funded abortion, sneaking it into the Constitution, and would enshrine an unlimited right to abortion. In fact, it would actually undermine women's rights and is patently anti-woman,” said Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America and a signatory of a recent anti-ERA letter to the Virginia legislature. “For example, it could affect issues such as Social Security benefits and childcare, all while ensuring that millions more babies are senselessly killed under the banner of equality.”
Two Republicans, Sen. Jill Vogel of Warrenton and Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, voted to send the ERA to the Senate floor for a vote.
Despite having introduced pro-life legislation in the past, Vogel indicated in August 2017 she wouldn’t support “further restrictions on abortion,” according to the Washington Post.
This legislative session, NARAL is also backing an amendment to list abortion as a right in the Virginia state constitution, said Cobb. “There is also an effort to repeal all commonsense restrictions on abortion that have been put into place over a period of several decades. That’s everything from informed consent and making sure that women have time and information as they make a very difficult decision with great impact on their lives, to whether they are able and allowed to view the ultrasound that is done at the point of their abortion.”
“It even includes removing our requirement that it be a doctor who does an abortion in Virginia,” she warned.
An LGBT effort to repeal Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman – which pro-family advocates want to keep on the books should Obergefell v. Hodges be overturned – has already failed, but “they are seeking to de-gender our entire [legal] code…last year this even included a bill that removed the word ‘woman’ after the word ‘pregnant’ as if either gender could get pregnant.”