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The ERA is a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would end legal distinctions between men and women on a variety of matters. Supporters of the ERA note that the Constitution lacks a specific guarantee for equal rights protections on the basis of sex. Opposition to the amendment comes from two fronts: some posit that women do need special protections especially in areas of labor law while others base their opposition on a defense of traditional gender roles.
Can Congress extend the deadline?
House Joint Resolution No. 638 extended the deadline for ratification to Jan. 30, 1982, but Congress may not have the authority to do so. There was vigorous discussion in the popular press and among legal scholars, but the conversation stalled as even with the extension there were not enough votes to ratify. The question was revived in 2018 when Illinois voted to ratify, but the question has never been fully settled.
Can states rescind ratification?
For an introduction to this issue, see this short piece from the American Bar Association. This article from the Indiana Law Journal lays out the arguments and sources of ambiguity around the question of reversing ratification. For another discussion of the issue, check out this article from the Louisiana Law Review.
The ability, or lack thereof, to access the full range of choice about family planning options doesn't just affect cisgender women, but it does usually get grouped under "women's issues." It's important to remember that not every person with a uterus is a woman, despite the cisnormative language prevalent in these discussions.
Access to Contraception
Wikipedia provides an excellent aggregation of different Comstock Laws. Comstock Laws were a series of state and federal laws passed under the Grant Administration inspired by the lobbying efforts of Anthony Comstock. The act criminalized the use of the Postal Service for the purpose of sending obscenity, contraceptives, abortifacients, sex toys, personal letters with any sexual content or information, or any information regarding the aforementioned.
Microform: The Margaret Sanger Papers
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
C. Lee Buxton (a gynocologist) and Estelle Griswold (head of Connecticut Planned Parenthood) were prosecuted under Connecticut's 1879 Comstock Law for opening a Planned Parenthood in New Haven. The Law banned the use of any drug, device, or instrument for contraception. The challenge was based on the fourteenth amendment, while the victory centered more on Justice Douglas' interpretation of a right to privacy in the "penumbras" of the first and fifth amendments.
Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)
Based on Griswold and the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment, this case decided in favor of unmarried people having the same access to contraception as married people.
Access to Abortion
In the United States, the access to abortion procedures is currently protected by the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade (1971)
Roe wanted to terminate her pregnancy by abortion, which was prohibited by Texas law except in situations to save the life of the pregnant person. The court held 7-2 that the right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold) protected by the fourteenth amendment and that this right gave the pregnant person total autonomy in the first trimester and defined levels of interest and intervention for the second and third trimesters.
In 2017, "Roe" of Roe v. Wade passed away at the age of 69. You can read her obituary and a little more about her life in her obituary.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF ROE V. WADE AND DOE V. BOLTON
Contains the statements from committee members and witnesses, submissions for the record, and question and answer period from a hearing before the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2005.
In Washington State
Legal Voice provides a thorough overview of abortion rights in WA.
The Hyde Amendment & Access Restrictions
The Hyde Amendment restricts abortion coverage for patients receiving federally funded healthcare assistance except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the pregnant person is in danger. It does not restrict those people from paying out of pocket, but it does prevent the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. This is one of many types of legal restrictions on abortion access.
H.R.7 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017
Though the language of the Hyde amendment has changed over time, the most recent iteration is HB 7 from the 115th Congress. According to speaker Paul Ryan, HB7 would "make Hyde Amendment permanent" [press release].
Harris v. McRae (1980)
In this case the question was whether the Hyde Amendment violated the to privacy, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, or the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the court found that the right to choose did not carry "a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices."
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
The question of this case was whether PA could require people who want an abortion to obtain informed consent, wait 24 hours, if married, notify their spouse, and, if minors, obtain parental consent, without violating their right to abortion guaranteed by Roe. The court reaffirmed Roe in a bitter 5-4 opinion but upheld most of PA's provisions, thereby creating the "undue burden" test. Only the spousal-notification provision failed this test.
Gonzales v. Carhart (2006/2007)
The question before the court was whether the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (2003) violated the personal liberty protection of the fifth amendment because the act lacked a provision to allow the procedure when the health of the pregnant person is in danger. It was decided 5-4 that the Act did not impose an undue burden.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016)
The question of Whole Woman's Health was whether Texas H.B. 2 placed an undue burden on the person seeking an abortion and if it did whether the vested interest of the state in protecting the health and welfare of its citizens might outweigh that burden. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion for the 5-3 majority which stated that H.B. 2 did not confer any medical benefit that was sufficient to justify the burden imposed.
Access to Abortion Internationally
Access to abortion varies by country. Focusing on North America, in Mexico the legality of abortion is a states rights issue and access varies and in Canada it is legal at all stages of pregnancy, a right governed by the Canada Health Act. A good starting place for more international research is the Wikipedia Category "Abortion by Country."
Canada Health Act/Loi canadienne sur la santé
The Canada Health Act manages how the Canadian publicly funded healthcare system is financed. It specifies which services must be covered for a province to be eligible for transfer payments. It also requires the production of a full report for each fiscal year which can be found at Health Canada's Reports and Publications page.
R v Morgentaler (1988)
This case before the Supreme Court of Canada held that the Criminal Code abortion provision violated the right to security of person under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Since this ruling, there have been no criminal laws regulating abortion in Canada.
Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE)
GIRE was initially founded to disseminate scientific information about abortion and reproductive rights in Mexico. Increasing access to safe and legal abortion has been a crucial issue for GIRE since its foundation.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. -- the Nineteenth Amendment
One Hundred Years toward Suffrage: An Overview
A timeline of suffrage from the library of congress.
Topic Guide: Women's Suffrage in the US
Put together for History Day research, this page offers a good introduction to the suffrage movement and links to primary source holdings in the UW Libraries.
Minor v. Happersett (1875)
In this case argued before the Waite Court, it was held that the 14th amendment did not confer on women the right to vote. The court thought "so important a change in the condition of citizenship [i.e. sufferage] as it actually existed, if intended, would have been expressly declared [in the Constitution]."
A Ballot for the Ladies
Exhibit outlining the suffrage movement (1850-1910) in Washington State. Western states were often at the forefront of voting rights battles because more voters meant attaining statehood sooner.
Library of Congress: Women's Suffrage in Sheet Music
"For as long as socially and politically aware citizens have gathered to voice dissent, music has served a paramount role; the women's suffrage movement proves no exception. From local community suffrage meetings, to large-scale city-wide marches, to prison cells -- suffragists consistently unified, rallied, and asserted their unbreakable spirit in song."
Legal Voice pursues justice for all women and girls in the Northwest, through ground-breaking litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal rights education.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
The mission of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is: To develop and sustain a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.
Radical Women, Seattle Chapter
"Radical Women (RW) is a socialist feminist, grassroots activist organization that provides a radical voice within the feminist movement, a feminist voice within the Left, and trains women to be leaders in the movements for social and economic justice."
Seatle Chapter, National Organization for Women
"Seattle NOW’s goal is to take action to bring about equality and justice for women. We work to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, justice system and all sectors of our society. We work to secure reproductive justice for women, including access to abortion and birth control. We work to end all forms of violence against women. We work to eradicate racism, sexism, and homophobia. We work to promote equality and justice for all."
Looking for quantitative resources? Try these: