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Where Are the Voices for the E.R.A.?
January 22, 2013
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A lot of breath has been expended today on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.

I wonder why no one bothered to mention that we are 90 years since the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment, and how passage of the ERA would provide constitutional guarantee to women that our rights cannot be abridged on the basis of sex.

Roe v Wade, and the Baird cases before and after, established that sexual conduct and reproductive choice are protected by virtue of our right to privacy - these personal matters are not the government's business. The Constitution also grants us the right to worship, speak, publish and gather without interference from the government, and further specifies that the government cannot establish a state religion. Given that objections to abortion and contraception spring from religious positions that we do not all share, and which the government is not permitted to impose on us, we should not even be having an argument about abortion, let alone tolerating state restrictions on any aspect of health care for women.

Why don't women enjoy the same right to privacy and autonomy of our persons as men? (Imagine the States trying to legislate what men may and may not do about their reproductive health? Guys can't even abide having their phallic symbols restricted.)

When will women (and men - of every sexual orientation and gender identity) be able to turn to a Constitutional Amendment for recourse against misogynists and moralizers, just as people of color are able to challenge racism under the the 15th Amendment?

The ERA simply forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, meaning that it expands everyone's rights and protections under the Constitution. A number of groups are working very hard to finally make the ERA the law of the land. Why aren't we hearing about it?

I am genuinely shocked and disappointed that in the entire raft of liberal talkers, not a one has had the gumption, or maybe even the notion, that we can do more than wring our hands over denial of access to abortion and contraception. In the big picture, those attacks on women's rights are unconstitutional. That should be the context of the discussion; and the ERA should be the remedy put forward and discussed.

Update, 2/3/13: Voices for the ERA: Thank you, Katha Pollitt

Yes, Katha, Once More Unto the Breach we go, and this time we are determined to get our guarantee of equal rights for women "in writing"! Here in New Mexico, where we have already ratified the ERA and passed our own state ERA, we are mobilizing, networking, finding our voices, finding many allies and finding empowerment and inspiration in our feminist community.

Here are some photos from the Roe v Wade anniversary rally and pro-ERA demonstration at the statehouse in Santa Fe on 1/25.

Bob, Jack, Joanne, Judy and Leland HSNM FC Friends
Above: Humanists and feminists gather at NM statehouse to raise awareness about the ERA. Below: A couple of hundred people crowded into the Santa Fe rotunda to celebrate Roe v Wade and show their commitment to guaranteeing women's equality.

Santa Fe rotunda
ERA Memorial-Sylvia Ramos,Senator Candelaria
Above: Dr. Sylvia M. Ramos, Chair of the Feminist Caucus HSNM with Senator Jacob Candelaria in the NM Senate Chamber on 1/25/13. Sylvia holds the Memorial that Sen. Candelaria has introduced; it requests that our congressional delegation in Washington support legislation to remove the deadline for ratifying the ERA. Below: Bonnie, Sylvia, Cynthianne and Zelda pose with signs at Roe v Wade reception.

Roe v Wade reception

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Copyright © 2013 Zelda Gatuskin

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