Equal Rights Amendment must pass to insure human rights for U.S. women

Posted on May 19, 2012

Women News Network, May 19, 2012 by Sandy Oestreich

St. Petersburg, FLORIDA, U.S.: “What war on Women?” some ask with a smirk.  It’s not as if it’s enough that there’s been a steady drumbeat of regulations and legislation that increasingly restrict and demoralize half the U.S. population, American women.

No, now they’ve come for the ultimate victory, women’s own lives. Men in the U.S. have attempted to conquer and control women with actions that have grown bolder since the 1970s. Right now, attempts are at a peak again. Women have lost almost all rights to the freedom of personhood and self-determination, one’s usually- assumed birthright.

The past’s battlegrounds in the United States are strewn with struggling women and girls:

  • The United States is the only industrialized nation without mandated paid parental leave.
  • Over thirty states still allow the shackling of pregnant women in prison during labor.
  • Abstinence-only sex “education” is still well-funded to teach girls that premarital sex makes them dirty, that boys can’t control themselves, so it’s up to girls “to control ‘the situation’”.
  • One in 7 elderly women winds up in poverty because she stayed underpaid and kept in her “place” all her life.  Despite conservatives’ pooh-poohing, fact is the pay gap stubbornly averages 23%  say statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of  Labor.
  • Military servicemen’s sexual harassment and rapes of  their female colleagues continues, and those are just the reported incidents, despite official declarations of zero tolerance.

During the 1970s there was a hiatus in the U.S. Gender-peace was made, tenuously.  America was on fire nearly everywhere for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  It stalled in 1982, just three states short of passing into the U.S. Constitution.

The still-unratified, unpassed ERA states, “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”/gender.  [The  “/gender” was added since “sex” was first intended as a noun, but now is commonly used as a verb, fracturing its original meaning here.]

Passing the ERA would make discrimination on the basis of sex/gender a violation of the U.S. Constitution, something missing from current law, state constitutions, or the 14th Amendment (corroborated last year by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia).

The ERA is badly needed – Now.

Speaking of right now, here is a short list of examples that characterize 916 anti-woman laws in the U.S. that were introduced in just three months:

1. Expanded the pre-abortion waiting period requirement in certain states.
2. Mandated pre-abortion ultrasounds.
3. Mandated that counseling be provided in-person by a physician.
4. Mandated that abortion counseling include all the risk factors related to abortion
complications, even if the data are scientifically flawed.
5. Required health departments to develop new regulations governing abortion clinics.
6. Revised abortion refusal clauses to allow any hospital employee to refuse to
“participate in any way” in an abortion;
7. Limited abortion coverage in private health plans, including plans that will be offered
in the state’s health exchange.
8. Revised sex education laws to require all school districts to provide abstinence-only
sex education while permitting discussion of contraception only with prior approval
from the state.
9. 120 bills have been approved by at least one chamber of the legislature relating to
women’s insurance coverage or abortion rights.
10. 23 states introduced 57 measures that would restrict coverage of abortions in all
insurance plans.  (Guttmacher Institute Report, 2011.)

Restrictions are coming – Restrictions are coming! More are on their way to Ohio, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Oklahoma. ‘War On Women’ in the U.S. is a blatant example of sex discrimination. The ERA must be in place to take it on. Unless women and men balk with unbridled toughness and fight for the ERA passage into the U.S. Constitution, misogyny will win. We all will lose.