Maloney: No Need for Equality of Health Care Treatment Under Obamacare If 1972 Equal Rights Amendment Had Succeeded

By Penny Starr | March 22, 2012 | 6:22 PM EDT

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), center, speaking outside the Capitol on March 22, 2012 about efforts to revive the Equal Rights Amendment. ( Starr)

( – If the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) were added to the U.S.
Constitution, the Obama health care law would not be needed to help ensure equality of health care between men and women, including contraceptive costs, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday.

Following a press conference held by Maloney and other lawmakers and women’s rights activists on efforts to revive the ERA, asked the congresswoman what the amendment would do in terms of contraception and birth control, a topic that was repeatedly brought up by speakers.

“Maybe change some attitudes in the country,” Maloney told “One things for sure, it’s well documented that the cost of women’s health is much more than for men.

“And so the insurance companies charge more to women for their health care,” Maloney said. “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] changes that and that is part of what is covered in the Affordable Care Act is preventive medicines, of which [contraceptives] is one of them.”

“We wouldn’t even need the Affordable Care Act for equality of treatment in health care if we had the Equal Rights Amendment,” Maloney said.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said at the press conference that women are “far from” equal to men.

“We have not achieved equality,” Woolsey (D-Calif.) said at the press conference. “Far from it -- not by a long shot.

“Not when women have to work on the weekends to earn what a man earns Monday through Friday,” Woolsey said. “Not when the professions that primarily employ women – teachers, nurses, federal employees and others – are under siege by the Republican budget.

“Not when reproductive freedom and the right to affordable birth control is under withering assault right here in the United States Congress,” Woolsey said.

The ERA passed Congress in 1972 but was not ratified by the three-fourths (38 of 50) of the states needed before its June 30, 1982 deadline expired.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden react to cheers as they arrive in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, for the signing ceremony for the health care bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The ERA has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982; Maloney has introduced it repeatedly since 2005.

Other lawmakers and feminist organizations joined Maloney at the press conference, including the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Last year, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) introduced legislation to remove the deadline for state ratification of the ERA.

“I can tell you for sure we will keep this up until it is ratified and we are gaining strength daily,” Eleanor Smeal, founder and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said at the press conference.

Maloney told that women’s rights are like “a glass of water in the morning.”

“As was said so beautifully by so many people, it should be like having a glass of water in the morning,” Maloney said. “If you ask any American, 'Should men and women have equality of opportunity?' and they would say, ‘Yes, of course we should,’ and it would emblazon in the Constitution this basic value.”