Catholic bishops praised lawmakers for defending life and religious freedom after the U.S. Senate rejected an effort Thursday to resurrect the pro-abortion Equal Rights Amendment.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasized that Catholics believe in equality for men and women, but warned that the amendment would have jeopardized religious freedom and laws that protect unborn babies from abortion, according to the Catholic News Agency.
“The Catholic faith teaches that women and men are created with equal dignity, and we support that being reflected in law,” said Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, the chair of the bishops’ pro-life committee. “The proposed ‘Equal Rights Amendment,’ however, would likely create a sweeping new nationwide right to abortion at any stage, at taxpayer expense, and eliminate even modest protections for women’s health and the lives of preborn children.”
Burbidge issued the statement after senators voted Thursday to reject a resolution declaring the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratified. The deadline to pass the ERA expired decades ago and several states recently rescinded their support. To pass, the U.S. Senate resolution needed 60 votes, but only 51 lawmakers supported it. The vote was 51-47.
Although the stated intent of 1972 amendment is to guarantee equal rights for all citizens no matter what their sex, pro-life and religious leaders warned – and abortion activists have confirmed – that it would be used to create a “right” to abortion on demand in the U.S.
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Burbidge expressed concerns about the amendment harming religious freedom as well.
“It could also pose grave problems for women’s privacy and athletic and other opportunities, and negatively impact religious freedom,” the bishop said. “I am grateful that the Senate did not advance this proposal that in fact expired decades ago, and I hope that Congress will focus on meaningful support for women and families in need.”
In 2020, Virginia became the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment. However, it did so more than 40 years after the deadline set by Congress. Similarly, Nevada and Illinois also voted to ratify the ERA decades after the deadline.
What’s more, six states later rescinded their votes to ratify the amendment after learning that it would be used to create a “right” to abortion on demand.
All this means that the ERA cannot be ratified. But pro-abortion groups have been trying desperately to resurrect it anyway.
Douglas Johnson, director of the ERA Project of the National Right to Life Committee, said the ERA is dead, and numerous federal judges have confirmed it. He pointed to a Feb. 28 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that rejected a case from Illinois and Nevada arguing that the amendment should be ratified.
To amend the U.S. Constitution, Congress and two thirds of the state legislatures must vote to approve the amendment.