The Democrat-controlled U.S. House narrowly passed legislation Wednesday to erase the decades-old deadline for the pro-abortion Equal Rights Amendment.

Democrats asserted that the U.S. Constitutional amendment would guarantee equal rights for all citizens no matter what their sex is. But Republicans warned that the amendment would hurt women and unborn babies by removing all pro-life laws.

The House voted 222-204 to pass the bill largely along party lines, with just four Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.

Many Republican congresswomen spoke out loudly against the abortion advocacy that is driving the amendment.

“My colleagues across the aisle are hiding behind the rhetoric of equality for women to end any and all protections for unborn babies, half of which are unborn baby girls and would be women if given the chance to live,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, a pro-life Republican from Arizona, told lawmakers on the House floor.

The Susan B. Anthony List said the ERA should be called “the Abortion Rights Act,” and the Virginia Society for Human Life described it as “diabolical,” anti-woman and “a direct attack on pro-life laws.”

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“The Biden-Harris White House has emboldened the Pelosi-Schumer Congress, and together they have dropped all pretenses of ‘unity,’” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA List. “As they dole out favor after favor to the abortion industry, SBA List and the pro-life movement remain vigilant against their radical pro-abortion agenda, which the vast majority of Americans reject.”

Though the intent of the ERA seems good on the surface, pro-life leaders long have warned that abortion activists would use it to destroy the limited protections that America provides to unborn babies. Under the amendment, even widely-supported abortion regulations such as the partial-birth abortion ban and parental consent for minors could be overturned. It also could force taxpayers to pay for abortions, something polls consistently show most Americans oppose.

Congress approved the ERA in 1972 and sent it to the states for ratification. To amend the U.S. Constitution, two thirds of the state legislatures must vote to approve it, as well as Congress; and states did not meet the threshold by the 1979 deadline.

Within the past five years, several state legislatures voted to pass the ERA, but their votes happened long past the deadline. Several other states also voted to rescind their approval of the amendment.

But pro-abortion Democrat leaders want to erase the deadline and ignore the states that voted to rescind their approval of the amendment. They also are ignoring multiple court rulings confirming the ERA is dead. Their bill to erase the 1979 deadline for the ERA now moves to the U.S. Senate.

Prior to the final vote, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, celebrated the bill as a “glorious day for women in America,” adding, “There can be no expiration date on equality.”

But U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Georgia, said the ERA would be used to promote the killing of unborn babies in abortions, not equality.

“Have we not murdered enough people in the womb in this country? Over 62 million, and guaranteeing abortion on demand is completely wrong,” Green said. “… The person in the womb should have a personal right. This is not a ‘my body, my choice’ issue because the person in the womb is not the same body as the woman.”

When U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and leading pro-life advocate, pointed out how the ERA would be used to push an extreme pro-abortion agenda, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, a pro-abortion Democrat, responded by confirming that it would.

“There can be no equality of the sexes when one sex is denied the ability to control their own body,” Nadler said.

Republican Congresswomen, including Green and Lesko, also emphasized that the ERA is not necessary because the U.S. Constitution already protects women’s equality through the 14th Amendment, and the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has confirmed this.

National Right to Life Committee senior policy advisor Douglas D. Johnson said the new ERA legislation is just a pro-abortion “political pressure campaign, dressed up in legal terminology.”

“Pro-ERA and pro-abortion advocacy groups, Democratic congressional leaders, and Democratic attorneys general hope to intimidate the federal courts into permitting them to air-drop the long-expired ERA into the Constitution,” Johnson said. “We take seriously this well-resourced effort to evade constitutional requirements, but their scheme is unlikely to ultimately succeed.”

He said federal courts already have ruled against several other recent attempts to resurrect the ERA.

“Although ERA-is-alive advocates and politicians will continue to repeat that ’38 states have ratified ERA,’ it is well past time for journalists to treat such claims with much more skepticism,” Johnson said. “Before the deadline, 35 states ratified, but 5 rescinded. Since the deadline, as a matter of law there has been no ERA before any state to ratify. The resolutions adopted in Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia were political props, based on legal fictions, and the same is true of the ‘deadline removal’ measures now pending in Congress.”

Still, the on-going efforts to ratify the amendment are telling about Democrat leaders’ priorities. Backed by the billion-dollar abortion industry, they are fighting for a long-expired measure that would harm women as well as their unborn babies. It could remove parental involvement laws for underage girls, meaning sexual abusers could take young girls to abortion facilities and force them into abortions to cover up the abuse. It could remove informed consent laws that make sure women know details about their unborn baby’s development and the resources available to them if they choose life. It could force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions and remove conscience protections from pro-life medical workers who believe it’s wrong to kill an unborn child.

Dr. Warren Hern, a late-term abortionist in Colorado, recently confirmed this to Rewire: “I think that if the ERA does become an amendment, then, theoretically, all of the anti-abortion legislation would fall.”

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