With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and as residents in the first state to officially ban abortion, sexually active Missourians are f*cked or, rather, will be literally unf*cked in the near future once state legislators succumb to a targeted pressure campaign to criminalize contraceptives. Historically and politically, all roads lead to Missouri’s small, but powerful, evangelical lobby winning the war it has, and continues, to wage against sex, beginning with Roe and ending when Griswold v. Connecticut is overturned by the Supreme Court, which will allow state lawmakers to outlaw birth control. The only remaining variable is when … and whether a nationwide ban will follow.
In Samuel Alito’s draft opinion of Roe, later found on Page 66 of the Court’s final ruling, the justice writes, “We [the Court] emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right” before blowing the dog whistle even louder by adding, “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Alito essentially tells lawmakers, “Don’t look in that direction,” knowing they will do the exact opposite.
Why does he do this? He likely knew what his fellow conservative justice, Clarence Thomas, was planning to announce.
On Page 3 of his Concurrence, Thomas says the quiet part of Alito’s false assurance out loud: “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.”
In laymen’s terms, a “substantive due process” right is one which is not codified, meaning not explicitly enumerated or granted by law but, rather, implied through deductive reasoning. Obviously, since such rights are not explicitly protected by law, they can be more easily banned.
Thomas specifically cites Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell by name. What are these cases?
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) establishes the right to contraceptives. Lawrence v. Texas (2003) allows gay people to have sex without it being a crime of sodomy, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) makes same-sex marriage legal.
By Alito priming the public and Thomas expressly requesting to reconsider such cases, both justices are signaling to conservative lawmakers the Supreme Court would likely uphold the banning of these due process rights should they be made illegal at the state level.
“Oh, they wouldn’t do that,” the Missouri MAGA mom on the pill reassures herself, adding, “There’s a difference between not getting pregnant in the first place and being pregnant and killing the baby.” Despite this being the majority conservative opinion in the red state, it is not the loudest or the most powerful voice forcing Republican lawmakers’ hands.
For those unfamiliar with Bible Belt politics, the pro-life Right is not unified on the issue of birth control. What is aligned is the two sides’ disparate stances are rooted—not in morality—but self-interest. While one is largely politically benign, the other helmed a relentless pressure campaign to overturn Roe, the same faction which will invariably use similar tactics to see to it contraceptives are banned even though their availability and use is favored by an overwhelming portion of Americans.
The group that hopes all forms of birth control are made illegal is a small, but very fervent, minority within the Republican Party: evangelicals. Whereas all but the most moderate Republicans paid lip service to the pro-life agenda, it was evangelicals who consistently put their money where their mouth was by steadfastly donating to anti-abortion campaigns, as well as time and energy to protests, rallies, and fundraisers. Clearly their effort paid off.
In contrast are the evangelicals’ less zealous Party peers, the aforementioned MAGA moms—America’s 21st century rendition of Ward Cleaver. Less reactionary, yet just as steadfastly conservative, this group is content to be cheerleaders for the cause, liking (but never themselves posting) anti-abortion memes on Facebook, and criticizing the right to choose in hand-shielded hushed tones over potluck after the Sunday sermon, but fear how it might appear should they be seen on the evening news at a pro-life rally. These individuals, if they voted (I have been informed by numerous married Missouri WASP mothers, “Politics is a man’s business; I let my husband vote for the family”), they did so with their conscience, believing terminating a pregnancy to be wrong, yet not looking too closely into whether preventing pregnancy is also morally objectionable, this being evident by her 3-child household as opposed to the inevitable family franchise she would be hosting if the matter had been left solely in God’s hands.
Reproductive ethics end at abortion for the MAGA mom simply because she wants to feel as if she is on the side of good; i.e., “Stopping the killing of innocent lives is what Jesus would want,” but dreading—should she continue to follow that line of reasoning—she might be obligated to surrender something she views as vital to her femininity: sex.
(To be clear, although the sexual mores of some MAGA moms may resemble those of her more conservative evangelical brethren, these individuals are obvious outliers for reasons which will be explained shortly; likewise, and as will also be discussed, there are rare exceptions wherein randy evangelicals willfully stray from socio-religious custom.)
Sex—for the MAGA mom and her ilk—is an enjoyment but, more so, an essential tool in attracting, retaining, and controlling a male … the universally-recognized sign of a desirable woman being the presence of a man who was willing to commit to her and only her.
As an unmarried, childless conservative in a dating landscape wherein the average female becomes sexually active at 17, it was due, in part, to birth control that the MAGA mom was able to capture a mate: Low-risk sex was used to incite loyalty since her partner was not (yet) legally bound to her; i.e., could readily leave. (This is why exceedingly desperate and lonely women will attempt to entrap men by deliberately getting pregnant without the male’s prior knowledge or consent.) Moreover, single women with marital aspirations value contraceptives because they are well aware it is much easier to date without “baggage,” a.k.a. children.
After nuptials, MAGA moms know continuing to provide “her man” with sex without a high risk of pregnancy is crucial in sustaining the relationship. She is poignantly aware the familial and economic stress of having too many mouths to feed is a death knoll for a marriage, financial hardship being one of the leading causes of divorce, just as she acknowledges a sex routine which excludes penile-vaginal intercourse to completion is not a viable birth control option since sexual dissatisfaction is an RSVP for infidelity.
All of these motivators factor into why, when pressed, the MAGA mom adamantly informs anyone who asks, “There’s a difference between not getting pregnant in the first place and being pregnant and killing the baby”: She is anxiously reassuring herself, as much as she is her audience, contraceptives will remain freely available because, in her mind, her identity as a woman, largely defined by her capability to create and sustain a family, depends upon their continued availability.
The MAGA mom had no issues supporting the overturning of Roe since she does not foresee a need for an abortion because she is clearly using birth control. She does not care about others’ capacity to have sex because, simply put, she believes she has all her sexual ducks in a row. As is all-too-often the case, happiness stops at her doorstep. Conversely, evangelicals’ motive in seeing that abortion was banned was, unlike the MAGA mom, less a preoccupation with the plight of the unborn and, instead, a bridge connecting the byproduct—a child—to what the group views as the primary concern—sex.
Evangelicals are not comfortable with sex. It is easy to understand why.
Devotees adhere to a strict code of conduct regarding intercourse: They practice abstinence prior to matrimony and, once married, observe monogamy. Thus, their experiential base is limited to a singular individual who (presumably) suffers from a similar lack of knowledge, all the while religious institutions offer little in the way of practical sex education. Why is this a problem?
It is a counterproductive Möbius Strip of self-perpetuating sexual ignorance, the blind leading the blind as both parties mirror each other’s naiveté, without—in the novices’ eyes—a reliable outlet for guidance (the Internet and books on the topic automatically being suspect due to their secular nature). Consequently, this lack of familiarity, thus comfort, combined with an intellectual deficit, manifests in doubt that—for the evangelical whom, from his or her pious standpoint, is forced to exist in a Bacchanalian society rampant with hedonistic promiscuity wherein polygamists are freely satiating every carnal desire—inexorably transforms into jealousy, which, as history has shown, unfalteringly takes the form of a (political) vendetta.
Sex, like sports, is a physical activity, and as with any physical activity, the more one practices and exposes him or herself to a larger array of people who possess greater degrees of experience; i.e., coaches and fellow players—thus permitting the individual to witness and learn of the different attitudes, approaches, perspectives, and techniques—the better, and more self-assured, a person becomes at that craft.
In a world where it is not atypical to have multiple sex partners over the course of one’s life, those who refrain might, might assume they are missing out.
Granted, numerous studies have shown willful ignorance of potentiality results in a myopic sense of satisfaction regarding sex, meaning the fewer sex partners one has, the less likely the person is to be discontent with his or her sex life; put simply, the individual houses little basis for comparison because, proverbially, “You can’t miss what you never had.” Still, the foundation for disappointment needn’t be solely empirical, meaning it is not necessary for a person to have physically experienced better sex in order to be sexually dissatisfied.
Voluntarily or no, if one is confined to eating only vanilla ice cream, it is easy to see how, looking around and witnessing everyone collapsing in orgasmic delight while scarfing down double fudge with chocolate chips, the person—regardless whether, moments before, he or she was merrily content eating vanilla—now finds vanilla bland.
Ergo, if a person simply believes he or she could be having better sex, the individual will inevitably become sexually frustrated and, in a world which appears as if everyone is constantly having more rewarding sex, confirmation bias has done its job.
Not only do evangelicals deliberately restrict their physical exposure to sex, the church and its leaders limit adherents’ intellectual understanding of intercourse by all but blacklisting the topic from conversation: Due to its Puritanical foundations, American Protestantism stigmatizes sex as it directs only in the broadest, most obtuse terms, cf. a person should only engage in coitus to procreate (have children), not merely copulate (have fun), because the latter is the willful surrender to Lust, a Sin of the Flesh, as outlined in Colossians 3:5 and hammered home in Matthew 5:28, 1 John 2:16, and 1 Thessalonians 4:5. This is why sex is a taboo facet of Christian culture. As such, it is never discussed in polite company, therefore the only people with whom an evangelical is allowed to inquire about sexual matters is—again—a person who has a comparable lack of knowledge: his or her spouse.
Moreover, logic dictates church leaders can lend congregants little in the way of useful sexual advice since, being devotees themselves, they are confined by the same experiential parameters. This is why “preacher” and “sex god” are not synonyms.
It follows if sexual naiveté and inexperience is virtuous, being apt at—or even having more than the most rudimentary knowledge of—sex is indicative of being a bad Christian. In this respect, ignorance and inability are honorable traits as opposed to easily remedied shortcomings but, then again, Christianity’s foundation rests on the precept that knowledge is the first; i.e., Original, and foremost wrong; i.e., Sin.
As previously mentioned, no doubt sexual outliers exist even within the evangelical community—votaries innately intellectually curious about sex; those perhaps intrigued and aroused because sex that does not aim to “beget” is forbidden; or people who are simply athletically gifted, thus find physical movement such as intercourse natural and easy, and avail themselves to exploring sex in varying capacities with little reluctance or hesitation. However, these individuals are cultural unicorns since, for most, indoctrination begins before pubescence and, through routine reinforcement of dogma, they are reminded throughout their lives of the dire, eternal consequences of corporeal sin.
With little to no practice before the season opener; games played alongside a rookie teammate whom, likewise, arrived with no training; spearheaded by a lackadaisical coaching staff—all the while living in a society populated with seasoned, informed, veteran players—it is understandable how evangelicals might presume they are missing out on all the fun because, from their perspective, they will never have the experience, knowledge, or confidence to make varsity since they are not permitted to do anything other than play catch with their best friend as their trainer sits on the sidelines, talking about everything except the game being played.
It is human nature to want what one does not have and, as is all-too-often the case, people—especially when they identify with a group that believes itself to be disenfranchised—act upon their disgruntlement by fashioning a vendetta with the goal of vindication; in this instance, keeping others from enjoying what they cannot, or will not, allow themselves to enjoy. The platform of politics offers evangelicals the perfect avenue to, not only vent, but avenge their life-long sexual frustration.
Using the power of the voting booth, pulpit, as well as their campaign-contributing wallets—with Scripture as their justification—evangelicals seek retribution from those who are able to copulate with a clear conscience. Knowing an overt anti-sex agenda would be wildly unpopular even within Far Right ranks, evangelicals wisely bided their time by aiding the more socially-acceptable anti-abortion cause knowing, if successful, it would necessitate substantive due process rights being called into question, thereby forging a more viable, defensible, shorter path to criminalizing contraceptives.
That time has arrived. Their strategy is undeniably effective.
In a sound bite, meme-saturated, auto-refresh social media landscape, a general audience does not possess the attention span (or desire) to mentally chew on the various debates for and against substantive due process. Besides, logical consistency and fairness make poor political strategies. In their place, campaigns busy themselves presenting, not what is true but, rather, what is believable. The result? Multifaceted, ethically gray scenarios are repackaged as easily digestible false dichotomies: Oversimplified predicaments sold as obvious black-or-white choices. The goal is a marketable idea which can gain popular support. The topic of birth control is no exception.
However seemingly politically and socially detrimental anti-contraceptive legislation might appear, it is being championed by the same interest group that slowly, patiently, and methodically chinked away at publicly-favored abortion rights for half a century until, in some red states, they were all-but-nonexistent before the landmark 1973 case was overturned. It is with the same zeal evangelicals sally forth, a piecemeal raison d’état to end contraceptive use in one hand and a very acute understanding of pressure politics in the other.
Where the MAGA mom stops her deductive reasoning on the issue of reproductive rights, evangelicals plow forward, stating there is no difference between ending a pregnancy and preventing one. Their rationale is simple: If a person prevents someone from going to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for a pie, the net result is the same should a pastry chef drop dead midway through making a pie: There is no pie. Viewed under this light, there is no distinction between crustum prohibeo and crustum interruptus.
Far from being a newfangled perspective, Catholicism shares much the same opinion, hence its unwavering stance against birth control.
This conflation of pregnancy prevention with abortion is not dissimilar to the advocates of faith healing who refuse to take medicine when ill, claiming, “If He wants me to be sick, He’ll make me sick; if He wants me to get well, He’ll make me well. Who am I to question God’s will?” The complementary theological, anti-contraceptive argument is as follows: If God doesn’t want a couple to become pregnant, He won’t allow it, regardless whether she is taking an epic quantity of fertility drugs and he has a handful of gym bros tag in for good measure. Likewise, God is stronger than a condom, so despite all precautions, if He wants a couple to be fruitful, He will make it so. This is the Divine Intervention Defense.
Under this code of conduct, it is presumptuous—and therefore insulting to God—to preemptively act to either promote or prevent pregnancy because it presumes to know God’s intention in lieu of the paradoxical Biblical edict that the Almighty’s omnipotence ends where mortal free will begins.
Interestingly, whereas the evangelical might complain the MAGA mom conveniently stops short before arriving at the argument’s inherent conclusion, the same criticism can be leveled at the Divine Interventionist: If there is no point in wearing a condom since God will decide whether pregnancy occurs, does the individual buckle his or her seat belt? Brush one’s teeth? Even bother eating since, clearly, if the Almighty wants one to die horribly in an automotive collision, get cavities, or not starve to death, He will.
It goes without saying, the last thing a God-fearing Christian wants to do is piss off the Creator.
How does all of this end up making the sale and use of contraceptives illegal in Missouri?
Show-Me State Republicans fear losing the evangelical vote during primary season and for this reason, and this reason alone, it will force Missouri legislators to ban birth control and, in Johnny-come-lately fashion, other red states will follow.
Despite the calendar date for general elections being November, most political contests are decided months prior during primaries because a very large portion of states ( … counties, local municipalities, etc.) lean Left or Right, meaning the electorate in those states are less likely to vote based upon a candidate’s perceived qualifications than they are by party affiliation. In these areas, once the primary nominee is chosen, November’s winner is a foregone conclusion.
This is because there are two types of voters, swing and core.
Swing—sometimes labeled “undecided”—voters typically cast their ballot as the result of a candidate’s likeability and/or advertised credentials or a political issue they find important. Not only is their party loyalty unreliable, if a politician or ballot initiative does not move them, they are apt not to vote. Conversely, core—sometimes labeled “base”—voters avidly line up each and every time polls open in order to vote straight ticket; i.e., for all candidates of their preferred party and on all issues in accordance with their party’s policies and platforms.
There are many more ballots cast during a general election. Why? Swing voters are less inclined to take part in smaller, less advertised elections, such as primaries. The consequences are predictable: Only in battleground states—where conservative and liberal core voters are statistically evenly divided—do swing ballots determine general election outcomes; in leaning or solid states, whoever won the primary of the state’s predominate political party will almost assuredly assume office.
Needless to say, evangelicals are a noted core voting demographic within the Republican Party and it is their steadfast loyalty that grants them lobby power over elected officials. The only time their vote is up for grabs is during primaries when they select which conservative they will be rallying behind come November.
Politicians in leaning states know they must pass a partisan litmus test with core voters. In red states, political qualification becomes less a question about potential or past job performance and more a game of “Who’s the Most Conservative?” Legislative missteps, deviations from constituent expectation, and documented slips of the tongue are all political sins which must be atoned for when primary season rolls around because voters with agendas have long memories, as do aspiring Republican politicos collecting opposition research.
In Missouri, where conservatives hold a super-majority in both the House and Senate and most every GOP congressman is a church deacon, it is not enough to be rank and file at every turn. To maintain a public persona, whereby fundraising is made easier due to a strong brand, incumbents strive to be seen as legislative trailblazers. This is why the Show-Me State’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt—who is currently running for U.S. Senate—made sure Missouri was the first state in the Union to officially ban abortion once Roe had been overturned. A little over a month later, he won his primary against a sitting member of Congress and a former governor by 2:1 margins.
With Schmitt’s appeasement of conservative voters on the issue of reproductive rights paying political dividends almost instantly, other state lawmakers will undoubtedly view the Attorney General’s arrival upon the national stage as a roadmap by which to expand their political profile. This is why it is only a matter of time before a Missouri congressman proposes a bill banning contraceptives: Sponsoring such low-hanging legislation will undoubtedly garner state—and national—attention, as well as conceive career-long evangelical support.
How prevalent is Missouri’s copycat politicking? Although there are only a set number of partisan issues one can choose from as the central focus of a political campaign, opting to rinse-and-repeat with established policies is a Show-Me State tradition: The state’s previous Attorney General is now one of its sitting U.S. senators—Josh Hawley—who arrived on Capitol Hill after running on a human rights agenda. During his time as Missouri’s top cop, Hawley conflated basic solicitation with procured prostitution in Asian massage parlors.
What’s the difference? With the former, a misdemeanor, the perpetrator makes the personal decision to offer her wares. The latter, a felony, is the definition of human trafficking because a masseuse’s employer forces her to sell sexual favors to clients.
Despite not one felony charge being filed by Hawley’s office due to lack of evidence, thus not a single conviction by which to prove Missouri tax payers’ money hadn’t been wasted, Schmitt—assuming the same office and hoping to follow in Hawley’s footsteps—instead of ending the failed program, rebranded it the “Hope Initiative” and, in lieu of the fact he too has yet to procure a single felony conviction of an Asian massage parlor operator, nevertheless touts it as one of his signature accomplishments when stumping on the campaign trail.
Why does Schmitt persist? The program is a marketable idea Missouri voters have previously shown they are willing to buy.
Schmitt is ahead of his Democratic opponent by double digits.
As should be obvious, a state lawmaker simply mimicking the Attorney General’s post-Roe codification should hardly be considered original, nonetheless trailblazing, yet in flyover country, an S.S.D.D. approach to politics is often perceived as revolutionary and guarantees column inches in the few remaining rural newspapers throughout the state.
(Make no mistake, even though the GOP runs on a pro-freedom platform, in Bible Belt politics it is understood the Constitution plays second fiddle to God: There exists a strong sentiment that, if given a choice, most faith-based voters in the Midwest would elect to live in a theocracy, whereby laws are founded upon Scripture, rather than in America’s secular democracy, where Church and State have been separated so as to allow for Freedom of [All] Religion. How common is this belief? When polled, 89% of self-identified white evangelicals responded the Bible should have a great deal of influence on U.S. laws. Of that number, when asked which should supersede when the Bible and the Will of the People are in political conflict, 68% stated the Bible. This is why, once anti-contraceptive legislation is put forth, no Republican will dare vote against it for fear of being strapped with the label of baby-killing RINO—“Republican In Name Only”—during the next primary. A textbook campaign tactic, convincing conservative voters a rival is a fake Republican, code for “undercover liberal,” has proven a fatal blow to many would-be Right Wing lawmakers.)
It is this electoral dynamic, an undesired side effect of representative democracy, that permits a statistical minority to determine a disproportionate amount of legislation at the state and, through the domino effect of partisan peer pressure, national level. This is the mechanism by which the evangelical subfaction within one of the two major political parties in America is able to hold elected officials hostage and freely manipulate public policy.
Core voters are aware—as are the politicians who must pander to them in order to remain in power—money, persistence, and volume determines which individual or group merits space on a lawmaker’s calendar. Evangelicals have proven themselves to not only be unwaveringly faithful Republican supporters but, as witnessed in their 50-year crusade to see Roe overturned, they have also shown they are willing to devote more time, energy, as well as contribute greater sums of money to see their political will be done than any other conservative interest group (with the arguable exception of heavily-financed Second Amendment advocates). Thus, albeit smaller in number, evangelicals hold inordinate sway over the State’s Republican Party in relation to other much larger, but less influential, lobbying coalitions. This includes MAGA moms.
As an illustration, despite their notable numbers, MAGA moms are readily ignored by conservative politicians for three reasons: One, they are sparse donors. Two, due to their propensity to allow their husbands to vote on their behalf, they are statistically swing voters. Three, the women’s subdued pro-contraceptive whispers do not command nearly as much attention as the less numerous, yet much more socially visible, full-throated, campaign-contributing anti-birth control demands of their evangelical counterparts. A surefire gambit, Campaigning 101 outlines retaining the favor of a single, modest campaign patron at the cost of losing three—albeit voting—non-donors will net six ballots after the candidate spends the campaign contributor’s $100 to purchase more ads. (In Missouri’s 2016 U.S. Senate race, combined monies spent between general election candidates divided by total ballots cast equaled an average of $10.80 per vote.) Politicians are whip-smart when it comes to campaign math, as are their symbiotic partners, interest groups.
Placating the few at the expense (and popular vote) of the many might appear to be the recipe for political suicide but, in leaning states, officials are granted a certain degree of partisan leniency by their electorate, meaning voters will accept legislation they do not entirely agree with if, and only if, they are convinced withdrawing support would strengthen the opposition. In their mind, they are willfully picking the lesser of two evils. This is why, even though the right to choose is well-received by the masses, politicians nonetheless seated justices who would overturn Roe.
Although counterintuitive, the method is irrefutably efficacious, which is why evangelicals will turn the same political thumbscrews, forcing state lawmakers to ban birth control despite such a measure being wildly unpopular amongst a majority of their supporters, say nothing of Missouri voters in general. They will succeed because the concept of criminalizing contraceptives is only disliked by Missouri’s perennially powerless minority party, Democrats; the state’s one-million-plus Democrat voters; and various Republican coalitions which do not flex nearly as much political muscle in Jefferson City.
As previously mentioned, by biding their time and supporting the anti-abortion movement, evangelicals knew, if Roe was overturned, the verdict would call into question other substantive due process cases. Whereas any serious suggestion of banning abortion once Roe had become precedent was fodder for fanciful dystopian plotlines, now that the reproductive rights needle has drastically shifted, what was unthinkable yesterday lays within the very real realm of political possibility today—the banning of birth control.
A single state trigger law, just one, is all that separates unfettered access to birth control from Griswold being brought before the highest court in the land, which Justice Thomas made clear he and his colleagues in the Conservative Majority would be more than happy to reconsider. Given there is no want of lowly political opportunists at the state level—each and every one ready to showcase their devotion to the Republican cause as they perpetually scan for a marquee moment so as to finally stand out amid a Midwest ocean of red tie-wearing executive haircuts with crowbarred parts of respectability, all aspiring to one day become D.C. comb-overs—the only remaining questions are “Who?” and “When?”
Missouri will undoubtedly be one of the first and, given it has a reputation to uphold after setting anti-abortion precedent, is a likely candidate to win the nationwide reproductive restriction race. (Based on a similar penchant for passing Far Right legislation, other contenders include Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia, although Arkansas, Idaho, and Michigan have recently announced their intention to toss their hats in the ring.) Regardless which red state wins, others will nevertheless cross the finish line: All histo-political indicators point to most—if not all—Bible Belt states outlawing birth control just as they have abortion.
Yet, because federal trumps state law, the issue will not end at the state level. The final chapter regarding Americans’ right to contraceptives will not be written by the Supreme Court, but by the first party to monopolize the Legislative and Executive Branches because doing so will enable its members to either ban or codify the right to birth control.
Why is there suddenly a reproductive rights race whereas, before Roe was overturned, the battle largely consisted of conservatives continuously campaigning on right to life? Until the controversial Supreme Court decision in June 2022, justices had a history of respecting the opinions and rulings of their predecessors by observing precedent. They did so for good reason: Upending precedent, especially if it is long-standing, is presumptuous and negligent in it ignores the proven functionality of a decision; had it been undeniably detrimental to American society, the ruling would have been reversed sooner, politics be damned.
When Roe was overturned, politicians understood substantive due process would no longer be recognized and unless a right was expressly granted or forbidden by law, the rebel Court may well rule on it. If there was any uncertainty as to the Court’s willingness to not simply interpret law, but create it, Alito and Co. removed that doubt.
This is why there is a mad scamper at the federal level to pass formal legislation on due process precedents as they now stand on abortion, birth control, and gay marriage.
To be clear, Democrats can codify the right to birth control at any point, but in order for Republicans to ban contraceptives, they must first wait for the Supreme Court to overturn Griswold. When this occurs, as witnessed after Roe was reversed and—as mentioned—irrespective of popular opinion (even within the Party), conservatives will undoubtedly cite the Court’s ruling as a mandate by which to formally outlaw birth control, despite a minority of states (by definition, the opposite of a mandate) having passed similar laws by that time.
Why is this so predictable? Only 21 out of 50 states currently have legislation restricting abortion access, yet Roe was nonetheless overturned months ago.
(Addressing the elephant in the room of conservatives simply leaving the matter to the states: Using the pro-freedom platform of States’ rights/small government to justify the overturning of Roe, meaning Republicans argued individual states—and their voting populaces—be permitted to determine what should or should not be allowed within their borders, GOP leadership has since backpedaled PDQ on Party philosophy by repeatedly stating they intend to institute a federal ban on abortion when Republicans win back Congress and the White House.)
Which party will ultimately get to determine whether Americans have a right to birth control?
Given federal government is more often divided than unified, meaning the same party simultaneously controls the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, odds of the contraceptive race being won by either party in the immediate future is slim yet, by decade’s end, dramatically increase.
Incumbent presidents’ chances of reelection are favorable because, historically, Americans are inclined to permit the Commander in Chief to serve two terms. Afterward, it is habit to hand the presidential reins over to the opposing party. Also, when selecting a new president, voters typically carry their consent down ballot, meaning a newly-minted leader is extremely likely to be working with a friendly Congress. Yet this window is customarily small, lasting only until midterms, when Congressional power almost always flips to the party not inhabiting the West Wing.
How consistent is this pattern? Over the past 50 years, this rule has been broken once as Democrats kept both chambers when Carter held office. This is not to say reunification cannot, or has not, taken place; it is simply exceedingly rare: During the past 100 years, the President’s party reclaimed Congressional control in 1949 under Truman.
(The caveat to both exceptions is George W. Bush assumed office with an evenly divided upper chamber. Four months into his presidency, a Republican senator renounced his party membership and began caucusing with Democrats. The GOP gained Senate seats during Midterms, granting his party irrefutable control. Therefore, it can be argued he, like Carter, was voted in alongside a friendly Legislative Branch and retained Congressional power two years into his tenure or, like Truman, took control at Midterms.)
The moral of the D.C. story is once the White House loses party control of Capitol Hill, which is all but guaranteed, it is seldom regained.
Although either party’s chance of having unilateral lawmaking privileges at any one time is small and—with midterms always around the corner—its subsequent time to pass birth control legislation fleeting, the probability of a major policy- and society-shifting bill getting signed into law astronomically dwindles once the filibuster is taken into account.
The filibuster was designed to issue the Senate’s Minority Party a voice and encourage extended debate, whereby legislators would be afforded the opportunity to change their minds. As a result, laws which might have otherwise stalled make it onto the books. However, since its inception, the filibuster has been routinely abused by being implemented as a stillborn strategy, meaning Minority Party leaders need only mumble the term and, more often than not, the Majority saves itself the time, energy, and money by not even proposing legislation that is DOA.
In order to override the filibuster, 60 votes are needed. Rarely will the Minority cross the aisle when heavily partisan legislation is under consideration. Occasionally a few votes can be gleaned from senators who have announced their impending retirement and, since they no longer have to earn campaign contributions or humor their constituency, act with impunity. Yet this rogue method is unreliable. Most often a party gets the necessary votes the hard way: winning an overwhelming number of Senate seats. How often has this occurred?
Congressional elections take place every two years. On each occasion, a new Congress is sworn into office. Of the 50 Congresses which have existed over the past century, nine have had a 60-seat Senate majority. (When this occurs, the Majority’s party has also controlled the House.)
With all of this in mind, even if Democrats somehow stave off an Election Day defeat during the 2022 Midterms, wherein Republicans are—at this time and on historical cue—slated to retake the House, should the Left retain the Senate, they will do so by the smallest of margins and, thus, be nowhere near surmounting the Republican filibuster.
History as a guide, Republicans should maintain control of the lower chamber through Biden’s probable second term. After this, beginning in 2029, the Right’s ability to ban contraceptives (and abortion) becomes very favorable.
Statistically, the planets may well align for the GOP after Biden’s lame duck session. Republicans’ likelihood of controlling the White House, Senate, and House is great, yet the question remains whether the Party will have enough momentum to take 60 Senate seats. Should this occur, it will be groundbreaking because all nine unified, filibuster-proof Congresses to date have been Democratic: the 74–77th Congresses under Franklin Roosevelt, 87–90th Congresses under Kennedy/Johnson, and 95th Congress under Carter.
(This begs the question why Democrats didn’t codify contraceptive rights under any of their four unified, filibuster-proof Congresses since the 1965 ruling, just as the consolidated government under Carter could have officially legalized abortion. As previously mentioned, aside from the political posture of the Supreme Court oscillating throughout the decades, it was believed there was little need to protect a right which was already being acknowledged through precedent.)
Projection models, historical trends, and polling data in stride, election outcome predictions are nevertheless educated guesses. It is much easier to anticipate what direction the political tide will take once an official is in office or a party seizes power. Given the Supreme Court’s lopsided composition and the deep red hue of Midwest politics, all that can be stated with any degree of certainty is a Bible Belt state, very likely Missouri, will ratify anti-contraception legislation very soon, thereby inviting the Supreme Court to pass judgment upon Griswold, which will return the decision to the States, where it will remain for an indefinite period of time.
Equally important to “Who?” and “When?” is the question few lawmakers consider when drafting or voting on legislation: “How?”—How, if at all, does a potential law improve people’s lives? As such, it is vital to examine the possible psychological, sociological, and economic fallout from banning birth control, each element being inherently intertwined with the next.
Of the three groups discussed—evangelicals, liberals, and MAGA moms—the lifestyle of the latter will be impacted the most once contraceptives are outlawed. Evangelicals will continue to have minimal sex for the exclusive purpose of producing offspring. Liberals, having accepted the reality of living in a post-Griswold world, will resort to using many of the same preventive methods as MAGA moms, yet—unlike their conservative counterparts—will do so with responsible consistency. Conversely, the MAGA mom, out of desperation, will naively try to have her sexual cake and eat it too, which will manifest in chaos for herself and her family.
Much like timid high schoolers not quite mentally ready for what sex entails yet compulsively driven by rampant hormones and insatiable curiosity, heterosexual adults will have little choice but to return to doing “everything but,” reverting back to the old standard non-penile-vaginal sex acts of frottage, mutual masturbation, and oral sex. Incorporation of sex toys and anal intercourse (except for self-respecting MAGA moms, who would never consider doing “butt stuff”) will transition from being periodic, entertaining deviations to mundane, yet reliably safe, routine. For the foolish, the withdrawal and rhythm methods will inevitably result in another child.
Equal parts ironic and sad, post-Griswold couples will anxiously await the ticking of her biological clock to become deafeningly audible, yearning for the end of the female’s reproductive life, the stress of fretting over a late period, once again, no longer a perpetual preoccupation, as menopause permits them to finally return to unbridled, uninhibited sex. (Granted, if he is of comparable age, thus 20 years removed from optimal testosterone levels, his performance capabilities—both penile and athletically—will have noticeably waned.)
Assuredly, in a post-Griswold landscape, the full gamut of sexually-active women, 17 to 51 years of age (51 being the average age for menopause), will spend over half their adult lives marking days off the calendar.
Meanwhile, bearing the brunt of her husband’s post-Griswold sexual dissatisfaction, the MAGA mom routinely confronts the Catch-22 of allowing him to periodically satiate his desire “just this once” because, despite her attempts to pirouette through the pregnancy minefield by diverting his attention in the bedroom with “everything but,” he habitually complains they no longer have “real sex.” She is torn between guilt of being a bad wife—resulting in fear of him becoming unfaithful (and possibly leaving her for a woman willing to provide consistent penile-vaginal intercourse)—versus the financial and familial mayhem an unplanned newborn would reap. In the end, the crippling terror of being alone supersedes all other concerns and she relents, all the while reassuring herself that she will “cross that bridge when the time comes” should she face having to welcome Child No. 4 ( … 5 or 6).
Still, accidents happen.
The MAGA mom, duped into contributing to a cause that went against her own self-interest, now finds her lot alongside the 20-year-old who is forced to drop out of college to support her child because Roe was overturned. However, unlike the expectant young mother, the 40-year-old MAGA mom of three faces greater health complications giving birth so late in life.
Although adoption is an option for both, they must first bear the physical, economic, and psychological burdens of pregnancy. Despite having been through this before, the MAGA mom is shocked to discover, although insured, having a child is vastly more expensive than she remembers. To retain Roe era profit margins, carriers have increased rates for all clients in an attempt to offset the cost of being inundated by high risk pregnancies (women over the age of 35) and forced to issue individual policies for the unborn, a post-Roe mandate, because embryos are now recognized as people upon conception.
The young woman who was attending college was doing so in order to improve her earning potential. Unexpectedly pregnant, she is not only confronted by the unforeseen expense of a child, but her debt-to-income ratio is further skewed by early college loan repayment and a diminished ability to broaden her revenue stream, the byproduct of not having an established career. This is why heightened debt and poverty is often seen in those who, as young adults, have children. Moreover, it is no secret poverty begets crime.
Cliché for good reason, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies frequently become latchkey kids. By their trademark nature, latchkeys are less likely to attend college and more predisposed to crime. This, in turn, results in higher taxes since social programs are funded with the aim of preempting the need to hire additional law enforcement in the ensuing years.
It goes without saying, the largest social program for children is education, and with more children comes the need for more teachers, and teachers’ salaries are subsidized by the taxpayer.
Increased birth rates will determine exactly how much tax revenue will need to be generated, but given the fact “mistakes” happened when abortion was a right, and more mistakes were forced to come to fruition after Roe was overturned—when Griswold is repealed and there is no legal, easy recourse to prevent pregnancy—mistakes will multiply by orders of magnitude: There will be a massive population explosion, and it will fall upon taxpayers to address the issue.
Their individual plights aside, the ripple effect of these women’s unforeseen pregnancies will be felt throughout society: Realizing it is more cost effective and/or less effort to stay at home and raise children than maintain a job and pay for childcare, more and more females—from wage workers to ambitious college grads to wives of made men, the well-to-dos’ careers being little more than “play money” and a way to pass the time while their spouses are at the office—will leave the workforce en masse.
As witnessed with covid, labor market shortages will morph into supply chain issues which, in turn, cause heightened demand on goods, thereby increasing cost and feeding inflation. Recognizing labor pools are deeper in regions where women have not evacuated the workforce, businesses will refocus recruitment efforts, leaving emaciated (red) states with even fewer taxable jobs in their wake, priming such areas to be epicenters for recession.
Banning abortion and birth control creates a scenario where Dick, who has never met Jane, cannot find a job to support his family because the company that would have hired Dick left the state due to people like Jane, who were forced to have a child against their will as a result of people like Dick, who voted for politicians which seated a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and elected state officials who drafted and passed trigger laws outlawing the right to choose and criminalizing contraceptives.
History will no doubt decide to label these scenarios “ironic.”
Forcing an individual to give birth negatively impacts the person, as well as her family, the community, her state, and the nation: Not only will it be considerably more expensive to live in post-Griswold America, the United States will be unable to compete with other first-world nations, countries in which the entire population, not just 49%, is free to make its own career decisions.
Finding herself reluctantly pregnant at 40 and befuddled as to why health insurance, childcare, taxes, groceries, utilities, gas … all the way down to her white chocolate mochas having skyrocketed in price (which are now never ready even though she places her order on the app before leaving the house), MAGA mom is forced to realign the family budget, directing it from new car payments, vacation cruises, and retirement to diapers, soccer equipment, and another set of tuition payments, which will start arriving shortly before she celebrates her 60th birthday.
Yet having a child so late in life or postponing retirement until she is nearly 70 is not what worries her. What weighs on MAGA mom’s mind is something which was of little concern before birth control was banned: With a kid in college and two in high school, she has to start over with another child, one that will be much more costly than its siblings—financially, physically, and emotionally. What happens if her husband isn’t willing to do it all over again, especially given their age? She could be left raising a teenager, by herself, in her mid-50s.
She then pauses, frozen at the realization she would need to begin dating again and—unlike before when she arrived baggage-free—will have a newborn, ex-husband, and three young adults in tow. After a few seconds’ thought, she dejectedly concedes the safest option would be to wait until she is post-menopausal before looking into dating sites but then smiles, comforted by the very real possibility of being so busy with grandchildren the thought of dying alone may cease to be a concern.
As mentioned, the MAGA mom and college dropout have an option which would permit them to maintain their pre-pregnancy lifestyle and keep their desired life trajectories on course: They can simply surrender their babies to adoption.
Both protest the situation shouldn’t be so black-and-white.
Under different circumstances, the college dropout would have been taught by her professor that she is being presented with a false dichotomy, that other options might have been available, and that she—and all other females—have been deprived of those options, options which would have allowed them the freedom to live their lives the way and manner they saw fit.
They would have been granted the freedom of choice—the choice of whether to have a child and the choice of whether to get pregnant.
Instead, both are left to reconcile a child is the price of having sex in post-Griswold America.
From 1973 to 2022 in the United States, couples would implement and utilize birth control in hopes of avoiding pregnancy, yet accidents nonetheless happen: condoms slip off or tear, diaphragms and sponges become dislodged, IUDs migrate, etc. For a multitude of reasons—personal, economic, philosophic—the unintentionally pregnant couple might elect to have an abortion.
Now, in post-Roe America, the same couple—not due to negligence or lack of trying to prevent pregnancy—may be obligated to travel hundreds of miles to seek reproductive care and, if they are residents of a particular state, place themselves in legal jeopardy because their political representatives have deemed it a crime to cross state lines in search of medical assistance.
To place this into perspective, a person who does not look both ways before stepping out onto the street and is hit by a vehicle does not merit pity because the individual did not attempt to prevent an accident from occurring. However, if the person does look both ways, finds the road clear and steps out onto the street, yet is struck by a driver who illegally turned right on red, such can rightly be labeled a tragedy. Under no circumstance is the victim at fault, nor can the horrible event be glibly dismissed as “The price of crossing the street.”
When Griswold is overturned, the ability to look both ways before having sex will be taken away, making pregnancy prevention a game of Russian roulette. People—teenagers, college sophomores, middle-aged couples with three kids, and the divorcée on the brink of menopause—will run the very real risk of bringing another child into the world each time they dare engage in sex which isn’t PG-13 and resembles anything grown adults would have done without hesitation during the Reagan administration.
To be clear, the blame does not fall upon the overzealous, vindictive evangelical—either in a pew or black robe—anymore than it does the bruised-knee legislator and his Plus-1, the campaign-financing lobbyist: All are boorish cultural phenomena, buoyed by society’s currents, political inertia determining their every direction. Instead, history will shake its head in disappointment at those who stood idly by and did nothing.
And, in the end, it will be the ironies that will not go unnoticed.
The MAGA mom insisted no self-respecting conservative would ever kill an unborn child, not understanding—by that moral (mis)calculation—banning abortion would force liberals to multiply against their will in red states which, until that time, went uncontested. This is the same individual who, when asked whether she plans to adopt in order to help mitigate the influx of unwanted children (which she helped create), unapologetically plagiarizes the 20-year-old college student’s rationale for needing an abortion (whose right to choose she aided in revoking), “Oh, we can’t afford that” and, echoing her fellow conservative, the evangelical, adds, “If you’re going to have sex, that’s the risk you take,” doing so as Missouri’s newly-minted law challenging Griswold is brought before the Supreme Court (legislation she helped usher in by myopically believing Roe simply concerned itself with abortion; never having heard the phrase “substantive due process” prior to the ruling being overturned), just as she, in a little under a year’s time, finds herself pregnant again, her mind only partly preoccupied with how a new baby will impact her family; her immediate thought being what people may think given she just turned 40.
Claiming a decisive victory after abortion was banned, evangelicals will win their war against sex once they succeed in pressuring legislators to criminalize contraceptives: Afterward, knowing pregnancy now looms around the most innocent flirtation, responsible adults will be highly suspect of, and reluctant to engage in, sexual relations if, for no other reason, an orgasm could easily gestate into an 18-year financial obligation. Many will become exasperated by constantly having to resort to less-than-satisfactory sex-like activities. Mental distraction will become a priority: On cue, suppressed sex drives will be sublimated by drugs and alcohol while hobbies such as hunting and fishing, athletics, gardening, cooking, crafts, photography, woodworking, video games, and big and small screen entertainment will see a surge in popularity as they become begrudgingly poor, yet less risky, substitutes for coitus. Teens will continue to fuck and young adult pregnancy rates will explode.
In a post-Griswold world, the dichotomy will rarely be false: The cost of succumbing to the temptation of sex is an unplanned child which, in evangelicals’ eyes, is the way God intended.
Sigmund Freud purportedly said two factors determine quality of life: job satisfaction and sexual happiness. Without the safeguards provided by Griswold, sex—a relationship builder, communication channel, much-needed recreation, highly anticipated pleasure, welcome stress reliever, atop the only exercise afforded many—will only be truly enjoyed by couples looking to add another member to their household. Everyone else will be left to fondly recall a time in which, as prepubescent teens, they were told “The best protection is abstinence”; the catchy adage meant to aid in helping avoid sexually transmitted diseases, not serve as the only defense against state-mandated childbirth.“But Jesus Didn’t Use a Condom … “ first appeared on Dissident Voice.
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Michael Gurnow.