- Last week the US House of Representatives voted to enshrine abortion in the Constitution with a revival of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
- The Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted in 1923.
- Since Roe vs. Wade was decided in the early ’70s, the reality of the situation has been that most of the legislative action intending to undermine abortion rights at the state and national level has been shot down by the Supreme Court.
Last week the US House of Representatives voted to enshrine abortion in the Constitution with a revival of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Not much seems to change as far as the legality of abortion at the federal level, which means most of the legislative action is at the state level.
Ratifying the ERA would indefinitely block any action proposed by pro-life advocates to protect children’s rights in the womb. Simultaneously, this would stand as a victory for those who believe that the right to have an abortion on demand is part of a woman’s sovereignty.
What is the ERA?
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “The Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted in 1923 by two leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. For women’s rights advocates, the ERA was the next logical step following the successful campaign to win access to the ballot by adopting the 19th Amendment. They believed that enshrining the principle of gender equality in the Constitution would help overcome many of the obstacles that kept women as second-class citizens.”
For the Amendment to become part of the Constitution, 38 states needed to vote for ratification. Thirty of them did within the first year.
However, the momentum quickly slowed as conservative activists teamed up with members of the religious right to stand against certain aspects of the ERA campaign they deemed immoral. One of the more egregious aspects on the conservative hit list was abortion.
Abortion is a hot topic
Abortion is an issue that’s still a big deal. In every election cycle, we see the issue of abortion used as a political football on both sides of the aisle. Many conservatives usually make big promises to their base to protect the unborn, while the left commits to standing up for a woman’s right to choose.
It’s a hot-button issue, and it has been for decades. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the discussion exists in the form of pandering to their constituents who’ve already made up their minds where they stand.
There appears to be little activity in a meaningful debate that could lead to progress for either side. The left holds the line, while the right promises to continue their pursuit of overturning Roe vs. Wade. If recent history indicates what’s likely to happen, it doesn’t seem plausible that this landmark decision will be overturned anytime soon.
Why is there a revived interest in the ERA right now?
Since Roe vs. Wade was decided in the early ’70s, the reality of the situation has been that most of the legislative action intending to undermine abortion rights at the state and national level has been shot down by the Supreme Court.
Conservatives have been soundly trounced in every attempt to overturn this legislation at the highest level. Consequently, the ERA ratification would solidify victory by the left in this area and send a strong message to pro-life advocates at the grassroots. The pro-lifers might be able to move toward their goals locally, but their victories will be short-lived without support from the federal government.
With President Biden’s support for abortion rights, many on the left feel it’s a prime time for them to make a push for ratification of the ERA once again.
Times are changing
In an interesting turn of events in the wake of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, the legality of abortion may not be as much of a factor moving forward as it has been thus far. According to POLITICO, at-home abortions using prescription medication obtained online and delivered discreetly to a person’s home could soon render Roe vs. Wade obsolete.
The world we live in is constantly changing, and the medical industry is often at the cutting edge of this kind of change. Last year’s lockdowns and social distancing precautions led to a rapid increase in telemedicine in the form of online and over-the-phone consultations between doctors and patients.
It’s not surprising that this same practice would spread into the area of doctors overseeing and administering prescription medication for at-home abortions. It’s conceivable that women who desire to have an abortion early on in their pregnancy might soon be able to do so without ever leaving the privacy of their homes.
A different kind of fight
At-home abortions would change the conversation and the legal battle concerning abortion dramatically. POLITICO pointed out, “lawmakers and medical groups are pushing Biden’s FDA to lift restrictions on a 20-year-old drug for terminating early pregnancies. Such a decision would dramatically remake the abortion landscape by making the pills available online and by mail even if the Supreme Court overturns or cuts back Roe vs. Wade.”
The political and legislative target is constantly moving for those on both sides of this issue. Ratifying the ERA would have silenced the pro-life movement in recent years, but now it appears the battle lines are being redrawn entirely.
Is the end near?
The fact is, no one knows precisely how this will all work out. Even if the left is successful in the ERA’s ratification, that might not be where the story ends. In a world where technology keeps people in a constant state of transition, ratification could be the end of one chapter that gives way to the beginning of a brand new one in the story of abortion rights in the United States.
Josh is a faith and culture writer with ThinkCivics. He attended seminary through Rock of Ages Baptist Bible Institute out of Cleveland, TN. He has held about every position one could hold in a local church: Sunday school teacher, Children’s Church Preacher, Bus Ministry Director/Worker, Missions Director, Choir Director, Song Leader, Janitor, etc. In October of 2005, he was ordained as an Assistant Pastor at Rest Haven Baptist Church, and that’s where he served until God called him into the Pastorate at Enon Baptist Church in Alto, GA at the age of 32. He stepped out by faith in obedience to God’s instructions and quickly received a call from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Free Home, GA where he now serves as Pastor. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife (who is his high school sweetheart) and three children: Zoey, Ava, and Jack, as well as reading, writing, hunting, cooking, weight lifting, and martial arts.