RICHMOND, January 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-lifers breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday as a campaign to resurrect the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by Virginia Democrats was halted in a state House subcommittee.
Virginia has taken up the cause of ratifying the ERA, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was defeated decades ago. It’s unclear what success would actually mean for the proposal, as several states have since rescinded their support and many argue passage is moot so long after the original 1982 deadline, but left-wing activists argue Virginia would be the long-awaited 38th state to ratify it.
Ostensibly, the ERA simply states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” But conservatives argue that if implemented, this redundant language would be interpreted as codifying into law non-rights such as abortion and have broad ramifications on everything from the military draft and sex-segregated prisons to women-only restrooms and male-only clergy.
Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins called the amendment a “Trojan horse for taxpayer-funded abortion,” adding that it was attempting to enshrine in the Constitution an “unlimited right to abortion.”
Last week, the state Senate voted 26-14 to pass the ERA and send it to the state House of Delegates, with five Republicans joining every Democrat in the chamber. If passed it would not require a governor’s signature (though pro-abortion Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has already expressed his support).
But a subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections committee voted 4-2 to kill the ERA, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The vote fell along party lines with Republicans voting against the ERA and Democrats for it.
“I completely respect all the women here today,” said subcommittee chair Margaret Ransone. “I don’t need words on a piece of paper. God made us all equal.” After groans of disapproval from the audience she singled out Eileen Davis, a pro-ERA activist and the mother of U.S. Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger, for “disrespect[ing] me year after year” and bringing “young women to my office and [telling] them that they’re not worthy. They are worthy.”
Davis claimed afterward it was “completely inappropriate” for Ransone to address her by name from the dais. “I go to her office year after year after year and I have never had a face-to-face conversation,” she complained.
“The Delegates who voted against this dangerous, unnecessary, and out-of-date legislation demonstrated a depth of understanding of the legal consequences of the ERA and resisted the urge to vote on soundbites,” Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb told LifeSiteNews. “We are particularly grateful for Delegate Margaret Ransone, who represented so many women across Virginia, standing up to the claims that women need to bend the rules and force the ERA into the Constitution in order to be equal to men.”
“The so-called ERA is a dead resolution that, if shoehorned into the US Constitution despite being legally invalid, harms women,” Cobb continued. “Polling shows that a majority of Virginians oppose this resolution when they are informed about the impact it will have on taxpayer funding of abortion. Women deserve better than this patently political proposal.” The Family Foundation was highly involved in marshaling opposition to the ERA.
While conservatives are celebrating the ERA’s defeat, supporters hold out hope it could be revived for a vote by the full Privileges and Elections Committee, after which they claim it could pass the full House.
“With this type of attention that it’s getting, I think there’s an expectation that it be brought before the full committee Friday morning,” Del. Mark Sickles, a Democrat, told the Times-Dispatch.