Top 5 Things You Need to Know About the ERA

How horrible would it be if HB 40, the massive taxpayer funding of abortion law under Medicaid throughout the full nine months of pregnancy, was forced on every state of the Union!

Pretty horrible. And the really scary thing is – this can happen.


If the so-called Equal Rights Amendment or ERA (the federal proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution) is ratified in Illinois.

That’s right. You may have heard about it. It’s already been proposed in the Illinois General Assembly, passed by the Senate, and now should be up for a vote in the House. Only two more states are needed to ratify the amendment into the U.S. Constitution.

Proponents of this amendment keep pushing the talking point that it’s entirely about greater equality for women. 

So why are we sounding the alarm?

Because nothing could be further from the truth.

We’ve broke it down for you. Here are the Top Five Things You Need to Know About the ERA.

  1. The ERA is an invitation to taxpayer funding of elective abortions – nationwide.

SJRCA 4 (Equal Rights Amendment) states:

Section 1. Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.

Section 2.  The Congress shall have the power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article.

So what does this have to do with abortion?

Since abortion is unique to women, any attempt to restrict a woman’s access to abortion would be seen, under the rules of the ERA, as a form of sex discrimination.   As a result, abortion restrictions would be overturned.

In addition, since medical procedures unique to men are funded by Medicaid (such as circumcision and prostatectomies), then abortion which is unique to women, must also receive Medicaid funding under ERA requirements.

This would force every state in the Union to have a House Bill 40 requirement and force the U.S. Congress to require abortions to be funded under the Medicaid program (thus, removing the Hyde Amendment language prohibition on federal funds paying for abortions).


  1. It’s no joke – we’ve seen it happen already in the states.

The concern over these potential dangers has already become a reality in two states.

In New Mexico, which has a state ERA with similar wording to the proposed federal ERA, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that under their ERA, it would be “sex discrimination” to not fund abortions for women with taxpayer dollars. (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998).  The decision was solely based on the state ERA.

Now, as a result, New Mexico taxpayers are forced to pay for elective abortions under Medicaid.

In Connecticut, the Superior Court also ruled that the state ERA requires Connecticut taxpayers to pay for abortions. The court stated:

“Since only women become pregnant, discrimination against pregnancy by not funding abortions…is sex-oriented discrimination…The court concludes that the regulation that restricts the funding for abortions…violates Connecticut’s Equal Rights Amendment.” (Doe v. Maher, April 9, 1986).

But how could this happen on the national scale?

Especially since we have the Hyde Amendment in place to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion federally?


  1. The national ERA could overturn the Hyde Amendment.

It’s shocking, but true.

The Honorable Henry Hyde himself, during a senate judiciary hearing on the ERA, testified against its passage. At one point he stated:

“Recent experience suggests that the ERA, if it is proposed and ratified without an explicit provision against its use as a pro-abortion device, will, in fact, be used to sweep away the minimal protection of unborn children that the courts currently allow, and also to mandate tax funding for abortions.”

Furthermore, in Harris v. McRae, the Supreme Court narrowly held by a vote of 5-4 that no constitutionally protected fundamental right would be abridged by the Hyde Amendment’s restriction on Medicaid funding for abortions.

Accordingly, the key language of the ERA claiming “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex” follows suit.

Therefore, if the Supreme Court had been held to the constitutional sex-discrimination restrictions of the ERA, the Hyde Amendment would be overturned.


  1. The ERA supports abortion rights – and the other side agrees.

Thomas Emerson, Yale Law Professor, and proponent of the ERA stated that the ERA would “have an important effect in strengthening abortion rights for women.”  (Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing regarding impact of ERA on abortion, Jan. 24, 1984).

Anne Freedman, Rutgers Law Professor, and proponent of the ERA, also reasoned that physical differences could not be used to justify different treatment between sexes under an ERA. She says:

“To treat people differently on account of characteristics unique to one sex is to treat them differently on account of their sex.”  (Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing regarding impact of ERA on abortion, Jan. 24, 1984)

Furthermore, pro-Abortion groups, including Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund have all submitted legal briefs stating that the ERA supports abortion rights (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998).


  1. The ERA opens the flood gates for abortion on demand.

We’ve seen what has happened in New Mexico and Connecticut.

Nationwide taxpayer funding of elective abortions is therefore a real danger.

But it doesn’t stop here.

Legal scholars also fear that the ERA could:

  • Eliminate all abortion restrictions including the partial birth abortion ban, third trimester abortions, and parental notification of minors seeking abortions.
  • End conscience protections 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.
  • Threaten tax exemptions for private/religious schools that are morally opposed to abortion.
  • Help solidify in the U.S. Constitution a “right” to abortion.  Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is based on weak reasoning, founded on an unwritten “right to privacy” assumption.  As public sentiment grows in opposition to abortion, there is hope that the Supreme Court could reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.  The ERA would destroy that hope by inserting a written, defined right based on sex discrimination into the Constitution.


The dangers of the ERA are very real and nothing the pro-life movement should be casting a blind eye too. It’s time to put a stop to this extreme and radical attempt by the abortion industry to force their agenda down our throats.