Elections, West Virginia Legislature

Barbara Fleischauer takes job with Feminist Majority, won’t seek House of Delegates seat

MORGANTOWN – Former Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer has taken a job with the Feminist Majority, a national women’s rights organization.

She informed the Monongalia County Democratic Executive Committee and announced her new job publicly on Tuesday. With the new commitment, she said she will not be seeking election to House of Delegates 82nd District seat; she announced her campaign for that seat in October.

The Feminist Majority is a sister organization to the Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. Magazine.

Fleischauer said she will be working with Feminist Majority’s National President Eleanor Smeal on its national 2024 campus campaign, organizing young women on college campuses on two main issues: adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and abortion rights.

Fleischauer talked with The Dominion Post on Tuesday while she was on a train to Washington, D.C., to meet with the organization and begin discussing the parameters of her new job.

The details have to be worked out she said, and they will map out their priorities; but it will involve travel to battleground states – whether they be for U.S. president, or congressional races or states with abortion laws on the ballot.

“I’m going to go where I’m needed,” she said. “I am excited about this. It feels like a real opportunity.”

The ERA was proposed in 1972. The amendment’s preamble set a seven-year deadline – March 22, 1979 – for it to be ratified by 38 states. West Virginia ratified it on April 22, 1972. But the national deadline wasn’t met. The 1979 deadline then was pushed to 1982, but only 35 states had ratified it by then, and five of those withdrew their ratifications.

After a 40-year pause, three other states signed on: Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia on Jan. 27, 2020, finally putting the number at 38. Now Congress must eliminate the original deadline before the ERA can become part of the U.S. Constitution.

On the topic of abortion, Fleischauer said she is troubled by what has happened since the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs case ruling, in which the court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, returning authority on abortion law to the states.

Speaking of her overall mission, she said, “It’s just very frightening what some of the people that are making rules are saying. … Do guns have more rights than women? … I really think it’s very important for young women, especially, to realize that their rights to self-determination are in jeopardy. Every person should be able to determine their future.”

Fleischauer talked about how she learned of the new job. She was concerned about these issues she was reading in the news, she said, and received a letter from the Feminist Majority talking about the campus campaign. She’d known Smeal since her high school days, when Smeal was active in the National Organization for Women in Pittsburgh.

In a press announcement about her job, Fleischauer said the Feminist Majority launched successful campus organizing campaigns in 2020 and 2022 that contributed to achieving Democratic majorities in the Virginia state House and Senate and securing state constitutional abortion rights in Ohio.

She said many young women are not aware that the ERA is not officially part of the federal constitution.

And while Fleischauer is no longer seeking the House of Delegates seat – currently held by Republican Debbie Warner, who announced in September she’s not seeking reelection – she said in her announcement she’s not ending her political career in West Virginia.

“At this historic time,” she said, “working on women’s issues nationally to protect our democracy feels like the best way to honor my core value of public service.”

Email: dbeard@dominionpost.com