Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Here's a debate I got into on Twitter today. You probably won't agree with my take.

In the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that a Connecticut law banning contraception violated the right to privacy in marriage. It's true that conservatives don't like the idea that there's a constitutional right to privacy, which isn't explicit in the Constitution. But even though conservatives in a number of American states have proposed laws that could be read to outlaw some birth control methods as abortifacients, and even though conservatives attacked the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, I don't think they want to open the door to outright bans on all forms of birth control. That would inconvenience white heterosexual men, including rich white heterosexual men, many of whom are conservative. They like sex. They want the option of keeping it consequence-free for themselves.

I know -- in that case, why a right-wing movement to ban abortion? For rich conservatives, if a wife, daughter, or mistress needs to jet off to another state (or perhaps, in a few years, another country) to get an abortion, that's an occasional inconvenience. The need to go underground to get birth control would be an ongoing inconvenience. Men in power mostly associate with women who can compel them to pay child support; no powerful white guy needs that worry hanging over his head all the time.

Rank-and-file male conservatives also assume they'll continue to have access to contraception, even deep in the Bible Belt; the war against the sexual revolution has been lost, and the right-wing elite knows it. Sure, many of rank-and-file white conservative men would like abortion accessible, too, but they've been taught to believe that unintended pregnancy is their fault, or the woman's fault -- but take all hope of preventing pregnancy away from them and they'll get cranky. E As a result, no one is seriously trying to do this, even in the reddest states. They know there'd be hell to pay.

The right, for all the zealousness of its efforts to overturn decades of social progress, has abandoned a number of cultural crusades in recent years. For the most part, it's stopped trying to curb porn. Also, it's been a long time since there's been a wave of attacks on art or popular culture like the ones I recall from the late 20th century. Remember Robert Mapplethorpe? Karen Finley? "Sensation," the art exhibit then-mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to have removed from the Brooklyn Museum? Remember Ice-T's "Cop Killer"? Or 2 Live Crew's obscenity trial? The right doesn't seem to care anymore. The right hasn't seriously pursued "backward masking" on a heavy metal song in a generation.

White guys would be upset if there were no more porn. They'd be upset if metal and rap were censored. Gun advocates frequently try to blame violent video games for mass shootings, but no one seriously goes after games -- again, white guys would be furious.

I think contraception falls in the same category. I don't think it's going away, no matter how successful the assault on abortion is.


ALSO: In case ypou've forgotten, Republicans in 2016 attacked the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate from what appeared to be the left in 2015 -- they advocated allowing birth control pills to be sold over the counter. The proposal, which Donald Trump endorsed in 2016, would actually have made birth control more expensive for many women, because over-the-counter drugs aren't covered by health insurance. But the proposal didn't spark any outrage on the right.

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