Written by Suffragist Alice Paul in 1921, the Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed by Congress in 1972. However, it was not ratified by the necessary number of 38 states, falling 3 states short on its 1982 deadline. The controversial amendment, which supporters are still striving to pass through Congress again, simply states that, "Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex."
The following quote is from Abzug's 1971 speech before Congress in support of the amendment:
"Equal rights for over one half of the population of the United States is unquestionably the most important business before this Congress. An amendment proposing equal rights for women under the law was first before Congress in 1923. Now, after almost 50 years of enduring repeated defeats, the women of the United States demand their due.... Equal treatment under the law, nothing more and nothing less.
"If there remains in your mind a doubt concerning the need for such an amendment to assure women in this country their rightful equality, I ask you this question...who, men or women, wield the power in this country?"
1. ERA information from National Organization for Women, "Chronology Of The Equal Rights Amendment 1923-1996," .
2. Quote from Bella Abzug, "The Equal Rights Amendment Statement of Congresswoman Abzug," 6 Oct. 1971, Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.