Time to Make Pregnancy a Thing of the Past?

In light of the  Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning  Roe v. Wade, a number of readers have written asking whether I thought the Missouri state legislature and other similar state legislatures will  consider enacting legislation that would ban sexual intercourse in their states.  The question is not as frivolous as it would at first appear,  and in light of the steps the Missouri legislature  took during the 2021session, it is a sensible question. It would instantly put to rest further discussion about abortions in those states that put that ban in place.  Pregnancy would become a thing of the past.

In 2021 the Republican-led Missouri Senate launched an effort to limit the ability of those who depend on assistance from Medicaid to obtain devices that would prevent women who had engaged in sexual intercourse or planned to do so, from becoming pregnant.  During its 2021 session the Missouri Senate voted to prevent Missouri state’s Medicaid program from paying for the “morning after pill” and intrauterine devices (IUDs)  used by women to prevent pregnancy.  In the discussion of that legislation some Republican lawmakers said that using IUDs or the “morning after pill” was like getting an abortion. In taking that approach,  the Missouri legislators were following the lead of  Ted Cruz (R- Tx.) , who has repeatedly referred to birth control pills as being abortion inducing drugs, ignoring the fact that in fact they prevent pregnancy rather than terminate it.  The Missouri proposed legislation is merely one example of the kind of legislation Republican inspired legislators may introduce in order to further their purported goals of preserving all human life, even before it occurs.

By the end of the 2021 legislative session, the  language addressing Medicaid provided contraceptive devices had been abandoned by the Missouri legislators who had proposed it.  The failure of the Missouri legislators to attain their goal in their 2021 session should not lead to an assumption they never will. With the demise of Roe, it may well be resurrected.

Following the issuance of the Dobbs ruling, and contemplating the possibility that following the November elections Republicans would once again control the House of Representatives, House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R.Ca.),  said the GOP’s anti-abortion work “is far from done.  The right to life has been vindicated. The voiceless will finally have a voice.  This great nation can now live up to its core principle, that all are created equal, not born equal, created equal.” Rep. McCarthy is presumably referring to what happens when sexual intercourse takes place.

Rep. McCarthy’s hope for the future of the unborn may be seen in a bill Mickey Dollens, (D-Oklahoma) has whimsically suggested he will introduce in the state legislature during its 2023 session.   In an interview following the passage of a 2022 bill in the Oklahoma Legislature that greatly limits the ability of a woman to get an abortion,  he described his proposed legislation.  He said:  “If you really want to end abortion, if that’s your objective, then I would invite you to coauthor a bill that I am considering next year that would mandate each male, when they reach puberty, get a mandatory vasectomy that is only reversible when they reach the point of financial and emotional stability. If you think that’s crazy, maybe you understand how fifty percent of Oklahomans feel about the passage of the anti-abortion bills that were enacted during the recent legislative session.”  Considering that and other possible future legislation that may be produced by the Oklahoma Republican majority, Rep. Dollens said: “If there is one thing I have learned from my six years in the Legislature, it is if one Republican controlled state does something, Oklahoma will follow suit.” His concern about what other states might do is warranted.

Following the release of the Dobbs opinion,  one Missouri legislator who had been involved in the 2021 fight to limit the kinds of birth control that would be provided for Medicaid recipients, addressed what future attempts to control the reproductive rights of women he would support.  In addressing the question he said:  “ There are some that I think are okay and some that I don’t believe in, especially the morning after pill and things that come after conception.  So I think anything’s on the table.”

There is almost certainly one thing that is not on the table.  My proposal.  If states that are so focused on the evils of abortion would take the simple step of banning sexual intercourse,  women would no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant and the need for abortions would vanish. Unlike all the other methods being discussed by men in state legislatures, it would have exactly the same effect on men that it has on women.  That, all male legislators would unanimously agree,  would be a bummer and for that, if no other reason, will never be considered.

Christopher Brauchli can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com