Three states filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the passage of the misleadingly named Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
When Democrats take control of the Virginia legislature in January, they are expected to become the 38th state to ratify it. Though the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) claims to ensure equality, pro-life leaders warn that it would be used to end all abortion restrictions and allow unborn babies to be aborted for any reason up to birth.
CNN reports Alabama, Louisiana and South Dakota filed the lawsuit last week, challenging Archivist of the United States David Ferriero’s handling of the amendment.
U.S. Congress set a seven-year deadline for the ratification of the amendment, but that deadline ended in 1982. The lawsuit argues Ferriero is “acting illegally” by continuing “to hold open the ratification process.” It also accuses him of not recognizing several states, including South Dakota, that rescinded their ratification of the amendment within the deadline, according to the report.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said their states are “firmly committed to equality,” but the ERA should not be ratified.
“The people had seven years to consider the ERA, and they rejected it. To sneak it into the Constitution through this illegal process would undermine the very basis for our constitutional order,” Marshall said in a statement.
He said the ERA “would not promote true equality, but rather a far-left agenda,” including abortion on demand up to birth.
Nevada ratified the amendment in 2017 and Illinois in 2018, long past the deadline for approval. If Virginia ratifies the amendment in 2020 and the government refuses to recognize the five states that have rescinded their ratification, it is possible that the ERA could become the 28th amendment to the Constitution.
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Kristen Waggoner, Alliance Defending Freedom senior vice president, said the ERA could hurt women and families.
“Women deserve to be treated with equality and fairness under the law,” Waggoner said. “But the ERA threatens equal opportunities for women, putting in jeopardy the many gains women have made in employment, education and sports. States have numerous reasons to challenge a bad idea that petered out forty years ago and we’re grateful that attorneys general are unifying to protect the rule of law and the progress women have made over the decades.”
Waggoner said the amendment could threaten women’s homeless shelters by forcing them to shelter both sexes, and it could force Americans to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.
“Women knew the ERA was a bad idea in the 1970s, and it’s an even worse idea today,” she said.
According to Outside the Beltway, the lawsuit asks the courts to block the archivist of the United States from accepting ratification documents from Virginia and any other state that approves the amendment past the deadline. It also asks the courts to ensure the states’ decisions to rescind their ratification are recognized because they did so within Congress’s deadline.
According to supporters, the ERA would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal rights for all citizens no matter what their sex is. However, pro-life advocates and conservatives long have warned that abortion activists would use the amendment to destroy the limited protections that America provides to unborn babies.
He said the sweeping language of the 1972 ERA would be used as a legal weapon against virtually all laws that regulate abortion.
“In other states, major national pro-ERA organizations have argued that laws limiting tax-funded abortions or requiring parental consent for minors’ abortions violate ERAs,” Johnson explained.
Should the ERA be adopted, it would invalidate the federal Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in Medicaid, and all state restrictions prohibiting tax-funded abortions. Likewise, it would nullify any federal or state restrictions on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions (since these are sought “only by women”).
Johnson said laws that allow government-supported medical facilities and personnel — including religiously affiliated hospitals — to refuse to participate in abortions likely would be in jeopardy as well.