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Research Guides

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

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.

Reproductive Rights

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

Access to Abortion

In the United States, access to abortion procedures was protected by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision from 1973-2022. In June 2022, the Court passed Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, overturning Roe and enabling states to set their own abortion laws.

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.

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."

The Right to Vote

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

A black and white cartoon drawing. Four women -- two wearing sashes that say "equal suffrage," one wearing a sombrero-style hat and a sash that says "the West," and one indistinct behind the other three--pilot a steamroller labeled "Progress" crushing rocks labeled "Oppression". Beneath the drawing are the words "The Steam Roller"


 Illustration in "Judge," v. 72 (1917 March 17), via Wikimedia Commons.

Quantitative Data

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