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Louisiana Senate Rejects Ratifying Equal Rights Amendment

Wallis Watkins
Senator JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) presents his resolution supporting the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendments on the Senate floor Wednesday, May 8.

Louisiana will not be the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. 

Senator Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday in opposition to the resolution, which would have renewed the national conversation around adding the ERA to the U.S. Constitution.

“I find the trade off of what this ERA amendment would allow to come into Louisiana does not match the bargain,” said Senator Mizell.

Opponents, like Mizell, worry the amendment would reinforce a woman’s right to an abortion.

“There is a connection to abortion and the ERA,” she said.

Louisiana Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, praised the vote, saying the ERA could give judges the legal basis to overturn existing abortion restrictions.

Others argue that advancements in women’s rights over the past century have made the amendment unnecessary, a position Mizell echoed.

“I’m standing here as a woman in Louisiana that 100 years [ago] could not have voted, and I’m a state senator. I believe that I have the right to accomplish what I set out for.”

Senator JP Morrell (D-New Orleans), who carried the resolution, argued including abortion in the debate pulled the discussion away from the core issue: equality.

“Just the gesture of showing that as a state, we believe everyone should be treated equal would be a tremendous message in itself,” Morrell told members of the Senate.

The resolution failed, 9-26.

The ERA was passed by Congress in the 1970s. After a 40-year gap, Nevada and Illinois approved the amendment recently, sparking efforts to reach the 38-state threshold for ratification.