Democratic lawmakers and equality advocates in Virginia are once again gearing up for a push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would amend the U.S. Constitution to guarantee equal rights regardless of sex.
The resolution cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday when it was approved by a Virginia State Senate committee. Later that evening, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam called on state legislators to pass the ERA and become the 38th state to ratify it. The ERA would make illegal all sex-based discrimination in the United States.
The measure still needs to clear the state house and senate. According to the Associated Press, it remains “unclear if there are enough votes in the GOP-controlled General Assembly for the measure to pass.” Virginia’s approval would push the ERA over the threshold needed for ratification. The U.S. Congress passed the ERA in 1972, and while the last deadline for ratification was in 1982, many believe there are viable avenues to pursue in hopes of reviving it.
Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (Warrenton) joined Democrats in voting to advance the ERA during Wednesday’s committee vote. Vogel introduced a notorious abortion restriction in 2012 that could have forced many seeking abortion care to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.
Anti-choice activists are now mobilizing to block the ERA. In a letter to Virginia legislators, a coalition of abortion rights opponents claimed the push for equal rights was “a Trojan horse for taxpayer-funded abortion.” The letter—whose signatories included Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins, March For Life President Jeanne Mancini, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance, and Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb—suggested that changing the Constitution to give equal rights to women “strips away from