March 28, 2019
Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee
Testimony in Support of HCR 3037
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Linda Thorson, the State Director of Concerned Women for America (CWA) of North Dakota. We are the state’s largest public policy women’s organization and country’s largest public policy women’s organization with hundreds of thousands of members across the country.
On behalf of our North Dakota members, we submit testimony in support of HCR 3037, a House Concurrent Resolution clarifying that the 1975 ratification, by the North Dakota 44th Legislative Assembly, of the proposed 1972 Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was valid only through March 22, 1979.
Originally the ERA was given a deadline of seven years for ratification, beginning March 22, 1972, and expiring March 221979. When it became clear that three-fourths of the states (38 states) would not ratify ERA, Congress passed an ERA Time Extension resolution to extend the time limit for ratification to June 30, 1982. Even with this extension the ERA proponents failed to deliver on the 38 states necessary for ratification.
This poorly worded amendment to the U.S. Constitution states in Section 1, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” If ratified again, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would restrict all laws and practices that make any distinctions based on gender.
The ERA is not about equal rights; it is about the promotion of a genderless agenda through the suppression of natural differences between men and women. The ERA is not about equal rights for women. If that was the case, it would duplicate the 14th Amendment, the equal amendment clause of our Constitution that covers gender or sexual distinction and gives all equal protection under the law. In the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Reed v Reed in 1971, the court decided the 14th Amendment did prohibit unequal treatment on the bases of sex and declared sex discrimination a violation of the Amendment. REED V. REED, 404 U.S. 71 (1971).
Men and women are biologically different, and we must retain the ability to legally provide for these differences.
- Despite claims of protecting women’s interests, the ERA actually hurts women.
The ERA would eliminate the exemption of women from the military draft and compulsory front-line combat.
In Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book, Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, she writes that the ERA would require that all women be drafted into the military when men are drafted and placed on the front-line in equal ratios to men. “Women must not be exempted from military combat.”
Women who feel they are physically able can choose to enlist in the military. Ms. Toni DeLancey, Concerned Women for America State Director of Virginia, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the U. S. Army and led other men and women in a Tactical Intelligence Unit. DeLancey states, “I didn’t need the ERA to accomplish this.” Like her fellow female graduates, Ret. Officer DeLancey volunteered to serve our country and was able to contribute based upon her individual strengths and abilities.
- The ERA will be used to mandate Medicaid funding for elective abortions.
Any attempt to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, under the ERA, would be a form of sex discrimination. Women could not be singled out for a characteristic that is unique to them and be treated differently based on that physical characteristic, such as a pregnancy. Abortion proponents (including the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood) have long argued in court filing that state-level ERAs guarantee a right to abort children with public funding. State courts in Connecticut and New Mexico have agreed with this interpretation.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that under their state ERA since only women undergo abortions, the denial of taxpayer funding for abortions is “sex discrimination” (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998) . As a result, New Mexico now provides Medicaid funding for elective abortions.
By adopting the ERA, Connecticut’s state superior court ruled that the state should no longer be permitted to disadvantage women because of the sex including their reproductive capabilities. “It is therefore clear, under the Connecticut ERA, that the regulation (prohibiting Medicaid funding) discriminates against women, and, indeed, poor women.” (Doe v. Maher, 515 A. 2d 134)
- The ERA could end conscience clauses for nurses, doctors and hospitals who do not want to participate in performing abortions.
Courts do not allow conscience clauses in race discrimination, and they would not be able to allow it under the ERA.
Be aware, the ERA empowers courts, not women. Because the language is so vague, courts would be called upon to interpret its application to innumerable situations – some of which were not even contemplated in the 1970s, such as the meaning of “sex.” Thus, citizens’ right to govern themselves on contentious present-day issues would be usurped by unaccountable federal courts.
- Women will continue to use established law to make progress
Through established law such as Amendment 14, Title IX, Equal Opportunity Act of 1963, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Equal Pay Act, women have made huge strides against institutional discrimination against women in education, employment, sports, politics, and many other aspects of society. Where other inequalities may exist, women will continue to use established law.
Women do not need the ERA to flourish in America. Women are thriving and succeeding as in no other time in history. They have done this without the assistance of ERA. Since 2008, women have earned more doctoral and bachelor’s degrees than men. They have outnumbered men in graduate school, as well.
There is one thing women can agree on – women want to advance their careers because of hard work and achievement, not because of pity handouts, or a government equality scheme. Even Hillary Clinton recognized this fact when she said in 2015, “There has never been a better time in history to be born female.” We are doctors, lawyers, and governors. We are CEOs and astronauts.
As far as wages are concerned, the ERA would add nothing. For more than a half a century, existing Federal law has made it illegal for an employer to pay a female worker a lower salary than a male employee preforming equal work. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law on June 10of that year. If a woman feels that her salary is lower due to her sex, she may avail herself of the 56-year-old Equal Pay Act of 1963 and seek to redress in court today, without the ERA. The proposed 1972 ERA to the Constitution of the United States, a poorly worded Amendment, should not be counted by lawmakers in any state, any court of law, or any other person, as a live ratification to the Constitution of the United States. Just as rules are rules, deadlines are deadlines – and the ERA’s deadline came and went literally 40 years ago this month.
We, again, urge your “Do Pass” vote on HCR 3037.
 Ginsburg, Ruth Bader, “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code”, 1977, University of Maryland, p 26, 218, https://www2.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/documents/cr12se9.pdf
Schow, Ashe, “Women Earning More Doctoral and Master’s Degrees than Men”, Washington Examiner, September 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/women-earning-more-doctoral-and-masters-degrees-than-men