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So why hasn’t Illinois ratified the ERA?



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SPRINGFIELD – The Equal Rights Amendment has been the effort of radical feminists since the early 1970s – an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution that the Illinois legislature refused to sign onto time and time again. Illinois was key in keeping the effort from passing in the needed three-fifths of the 50 states – and it is now a prize that the most radical Democrat Leftists are focused upon once again this session. 

The ERA Illinois Coalition is crudely using the photo of a little girl with a birthday cake raising the question "WTF?" about why Illinois hasn't jumped on board with the effort. 

STOP-ERA's president Elise Bouc gives 10 reasons why Illinois has consistently refused the effort. Those reasons include that the so-called Equal Rights Amendment's agenda isn't simply to treat men and women equally, The amendment will erase distinctions between men and women, protect abortion rights for any reason, ban any laws that give women preferential treatment – including during pregnancy, and, among others, remove stay at home moms' ability to tap into spousal Social Security benefits. 

Here's the 10 Reasons Bouc presents as why Illinois hasn't ratified the ERA, which could soon be voted on in the Illinois Senate:

10 Reasons to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA-SJRCA4):

  1. The vague, poorly written language of the ERA does not allow any distinction to be made between men and women – even when it makes sense to do so based on their biological differences.

As a result, the ERA will harm women AND their unborn children by overturning laws and programs that benefit them.

Harm to unborn children:

  1. The ERA would be used to overturn all restrictions on abortion (including the partial birth abortion ban, 3rdtrimester abortion ban and parental notice of minors seeking abortion).
  2. The ERA would be used to mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions.

In both New Mexico and Connecticut, their state ERAs were used in the courts to overturn restrictions on abortions and mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions with the rationale that since abortion is unique to women, restricting abortions is a form of sex discrimination. ” (N.M. Right to Choose/NARAL v. Johnson, 975 P.2d 841, 1998; and Doe v. Maher, 515 A.2d 134 [Conn Super. Ct. 1986])

Harm to women

  1. The ERA would overturn laws and practices that benefit women because they would be viewed as showing preferential treatment to women.  The laws and practices that would be overturned include:
  • Work place laws that provide special accommodations for pregnant women
  • State labor laws and guidelines which benefit and protect women (i.e. female prison guards)
  • Government programs that support women as mothers such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutritional program (WIC)
  • Social Security benefits for stay-at-home mothers based on their spouse’s income.  Justice Ginsberg claims that the current gender neutral benefit language is still a violation of the equality principle because it encourages women to stay out of the work force, and as such she would overturn the benefit.
  • Exemption of women from the military draft and front-line combat.   Currently women who feel they are physically able can choose to enlist in the military.  The ERA, however, would require that all women be drafted and placed on front-line combat in equal ratios to men.
  • Laws and presumptions that support women in the areas of alimony, child support,and requirements of husbands to pay for their dependent wives’ medical bills.  The ERA will also wipe out state laws that exempt a wife from having to pay her husband’s debts even if he deserts her with children to support.
  • All other laws that provide preferential treatment for women
  1. ERA would impact theprivacy and safety of women and girls by removing gender designations for bathrooms, locker rooms, jails and hospital rooms.
  2. The ERA will not give women any more rights than they currently have.  Women already have claim to equal rights through the 14thAmendment (section1) as well as numerous other laws in virtually all areas of American life – employment (including equal pay), education, credit eligibility, housing, public accommodations, etc.     The US Supreme Court has already applied the 14th Amendment to women’s issues (United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996)).                                                                                                               
  3. ERA won’t erase the gender wage gap. Women are already guaranteed equal pay through the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 and can seek remediation through the EEOC.  The currently quoted wage gap between men and women is a misunderstood statistic in which the average wages of all full-time working men and women are compared in one lump sum of men to women across all occupations and education levels.  This doesn’t allow for an equal pay comparison.  When we compare the wages of men and women within the same career, in similar positions, at the same age, the wage gap narrows to 98 cents for women compared to a dollar for men.  Even when we compare within career fields, key factors such as years worked, level of education, and time flexibility of job, etc. are not factored into the comparison (see “An Analysis of the Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women” U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2009).   
  4. The ERA would also transfer large amounts of legislative power from the states to Congress creating a greater imbalance of power and placing sensitive issues under the less responsive federal government.

Section 2 of the ERA requires that Congress be given the power to enact the provisions of the ERA.  As a result, states would lose their legislative abilities in regards to family law (marriage, divorce, alimony, custody, adoption, and property), sex crime laws, public and private schools, insurance, prison regulations and any other areas of law impacted by gender. 

  1. The history of the ERA shows the extreme intent of the supporters of the amendment.

Efforts to soften the extreme nature of the ERA via amendments were rejected by the supporters of the ERA when the ERA was being drafted in Congress.  Courts will look to this legislative history for legislative intent as they interpret the ERA.  The sample amendment below that was rejected shows that the supporters intended the applications of the ERA to be extreme and without any protection for women or their unborn children:

This amending language for the ERA was rejected by the supporters: “The provisions of this article shall not impair the validity, however, of any laws of the United States or any State which exempt women from compulsory military service, or from service in combat units of the Armed Forces; or extend protections or exemptions to wives, mothers, or widows; or impose upon fathers responsibility for the support of children; or secure privacy to men or women, or boys or girls; or make punishable as crimes rape, seduction, or other sexual offenses” (Cong. Rec., pp. S9538–S9540).

The following amendment was also proposed to make the ERA abortion neutral, but it was repeatedly rejected by ERA supporters:  "Nothing in this Article shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof."  It’s clear they intended for the ERA to overturn all restrictions on abortion.

  1. We should demand that the supporters of the ERA bring us an ERA with better language.  When the ERA failed to receive enough states’ ratifications by 1979, it wasn’t because we didn’t believe in equal rights for women.   The ERA failed because it was poorly worded, and wise legislators realized that this poorly worded amendment would harm women, their children and our society.  Those who believe women need an equal rights amendment should write a better amendment that won’t harm women.
Illinois Review
Illinois Review
Founded in 2005, Illinois Review is the leading perspective and source of conservative news, opinion and information in Illinois. Follow Illinois Review on X at @IllinoisReview.


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  1. If women are “persons,” then we already have equal protection under the Constitution. We don’t need to risk the potentially wild consequences of adding vague language to the Constitution for no benefit and plenty of potential cost. We should all be thankful that Elise Bouc is working so hard to inform legislators, but Illinoisans should also be adding their own voices to their own state senators and representatives asking them to maintain the decades-long position of the Illinois General Assembly: No on ERA!

  2. This is an excellent article, Elise. It is still a question as to whom on the outside is pushing ERA here in Illinois, thinking the time is right to pass ERA here in Illinois. Since Rauner isn’t in control of Illinois (as he said so himself), I fear that his progressive wife will certainly give her husband, the governor, his marching orders to sign ERA. This would be disastrous for Illinois.
    Are you working individually with the legislators in Illinois, Elsie? A few strong legislators in each House who know the issue must get the word out about ERA to all House and Senate members.
    Let me know if I can be of help, Elsie. It is a must that we call and inform our own legislators.

  3. Rauner’s wife is the family and now the state boss, there’s no doubt. But Rauner will not be signing the ERA. All that needs to be done is a 3/5 vote in both the Illinois Senate and House. It could happen in the IL Senate. Our only hope – believe it or not – is the House Republicans standing firm on the principles Elise Bouc lists. If they do, the ERA won’t pass, and Illinois will remain on the correct side of this issue.

  4. The purpose of ERA is to make women a special group with more rights.
    For example ,if there were a draft and the ERA had beenpassed does anyone really believe that women would be treated as men in a military call-up and deployment.
    No, this is about special rights. And since so many courts have a liberal bias that is how they will, in effect, interpret it.
    I think most of us want women to be treated fairly. I have a wife and I want her to be. I might someday have a granddaughter and the same goes.
    But again, this is not about ‘equal’ rights’ it is about special rights.

  5. Frank – Be careful not to confuse what you hope will happen with what the language of the ERA will actually do. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote a book detailing the impact of the ERA on our code of law. In her book she clearly states that the ERA will require women to be drafted into the military when men are drafted, and women must be included in military combat. The ERA doesn’t provide for special favor to be given to women, It requires that no distinction be made based on sex; so you can’t treat one sex more favorably than the other even when it makes sense not to force our women into war. She also stated that the ERA would require our prisons to be sex integrated. That would be a terrible thing to do to our female prison inmates. The ERA, as it is currently written, does not benefit women.