The Sunday Telegraph

Phyllis Schlafly


Phyllis Schlafly, who has died aged 92, was an American conservati­ve activist, lawyer, author and strident anti-feminist who in the 1970s was instrument­al in halting the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and helped push the Republican Party further to the Right on such issues as the family, religion and abortion.

The Equal Rights Amendment (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex”) was a guarantee of equal rights for women and had already been passed by Congress in 1972 when she began her campaign to stop its ratificati­on, which at the time seemed very likely.

Thirty of the 38 state legislatur­es required to pass the amendment had already ratified it. It was widely supported by women’s groups and by both major political parties. But Phyllis Schlafly was undaunted. American women, she said, were already “extremely well treated”.

Focusing her campaign on the threat the amendment would pose to traditiona­l family values, she travelled across the country, speaking to clubs and religious groups, as well as 30 state legislatur­es. By the late 1970s the Amendment was stalled and, despite an extension to its sevenyear deadline, by 1982 15 states had rejected it and five others had withdrawn their ratificati­on.

It fell three states short of passage and in celebratio­n Phyllis Schlafly held a “burial” party in Washington. The ERA, she told journalist­s, “is dead for now and forever in this century”. Born August 15 1924, died September 5 2016

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