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Wingnuts: Forget Roe, Overturn Eisenstadt

If you wanted further proof that the real target for the anti-choice crowd is not abortion but contraception, the Family Research Council will be holding a discussion of Eisenstadt v Baird, a 1972 Supreme Court ruling that overturned state laws banning the sale of contraception to unmarried couples (following Griswold v Connecticut in 1965, which did the same for married couples). Short version: They’re agin it.

On March 22nd, 1972, the Supreme Court undermined the boundaries and benefits of marriage. In the decision Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Court struck down a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people, and implicitly sanctioned unmarried non-procreative sexual intimacy.

While the decision may seem archaic and insignificant by modern sexual standards, Eisenstadt v. Baird dealt a decisive blow to the legal and cultural norm that marriage was the institution for the full expression of the sexual relationship between man and woman.

Let me translate that last sentence: “The decision dealt a decisive blow to our ability to control other people’s lives and force them to live by our antiquated moral code or be thrown in jail.”

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    The more the wingnuts go after mainstream ideas, and force Republican candidates to agree with them, the better. It just further marginalizes the right wing.

  2. jamessweet says

    Heh, so basically, they want to maximize the number of pregnancies that occur outside of marriage, right?

    Makes sense, I guess… It would explain their support for abstinence-only sex education, for example.

  3. eric says

    Glad you mentioned Griswold. If they got their way on Eisenstadt, it wouldn’t be too long before these yoyos targeted married ‘non-procreative sexual intimacy.’ Eisenstadt is a rest stop, not their final destination.

  4. says

    Heh, so basically, they want to maximize the number of pregnancies that occur outside of marriage, right?

    No, not just pregnancies. Births and STDs. They want women to be punished for allowing anyone but their rightful owner to have sex with them.

  5. Tualha says

    Because, you know, religious liberty demands that the majority (or even a sufficiently-loud minority) be able to impose their views on everyone else.

  6. John Hinkle says

    Wait, the Family Research Council has the word Family in it, and we all know what that means: hate Teh Ghey. This Family Research Council must’ve thrown the real one in the closet. OMG! They’re posers!

  7. says

    I am a very late, and only, child for my generation — my parents were married in 1943; I was born in 1957. Given how recently contraception became legal and available, even for married couples (anyone know what the situation was in England and Canada during those years?), I sometimes wonder what they did about it.

    (To preempt one response: I know for a fact that I was not a “mistake” — they changed their minds.)

  8. laurentweppe says

    Heh, so basically, they want to maximize the number of pregnancies that occur outside of marriage, right?

    No: they want safe sex to become once again a privilege for the rich: look: first the plebs get to have sex as much as they want, then they elected a black radical centrist who tries to stop capitalism to screw itself up because he hates capitalism, then they start complaining about the underserved wealth of the one percent: next thing you know France will restart its production of guillotines and sell them to the American Commitee of Public Safety, and all this because the plebs were allowed to enjoy sex
    [/sarcasm]

  9. Trebuchet says

    Wow, it’s like they don’t want any women to vote Republican.

    That would be correct if you just omitted the last word.

  10. scott says

    Republicans: “Corporations should be able to whatever they want with their land and workers, but people should only be able to have sex with government approval.”

    What… the… FUCK.

  11. scott says

    “…able to DO whatever they want…”

    I have to wonder why something I miss in preview is instantly apparent right after I post.

  12. timothyyoung says

    You start losing a war against a minority that comprises 10% of the population, and then you decide to go out and declare war on most of the rest of the population? Is there some maniacal bit of genius at work here that we are as yet unable to discern? ‘One last suicidal lunge straight into the guns of the enemy will surely bring final victory!’ Is this the psychology that is on display here? I know these people are generally deluded. But I just find it hard to believe that they are this irrational.

  13. Chiroptera says

    Eisenstadt v. Baird dealt a decisive blow to the legal and cultural norm that marriage was the institution for the full expression of the sexual relationship between man and woman. The decision and its legal consequences affect us today.

    What I think is interesting about this is this doesn’t even mention the usual argument about States rights, Constitutionally protected perogatives of the states, Constitutional limits on Federal power, and so forth.

    It is very forthright that the main issue is that the policy outcomes are not what they agree with. Their entire theory of Constitutional interpretation is: what laws do I want to allow? What laws do I want to see disappear?

  14. Tualha says

    Scott: it all makes perfect sense when you realize they just want to bring back the good old days of the 1890s.

    Or perhaps, borrowing from Roger Waters, it all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shilling, and pence. Big corporations make big campaign donations, so they get to do what they want. Individuals don’t have that kind of money, so they get the shaft.

  15. eric says

    I sometimes wonder what they did about it.

    Bought it illegally, I’m sure. As Laurent said, protection has always been available for the wealthy and connected. The U.S. folks who desire to wind the clock back know very well that they will almost never be the targets of enforcement or punishment. Its similar in a way to drug laws. If you are Lindsay Lohan, you get a slap on the wrist; if you’re a poor black man, you get 20 years.

  16. says

    It’s incredible to me that this conversation is even taking place. Effective contraception became generally available and acceptable barely within my lifetime, but before I was old enough for it to be personally relevant. We’ve now had two generations — mine, and my children’s — grow up taking for granted that we could control our fertility, and had a choice of methods for doing so (they’ve all got their downsides; being able to pick what works best for you and your situation is a Very Good Thing). This was true even in most religious circles — the married evangelicals I hung out with ~30 years ago mostly used the Pill, as did we. Even Tim LaHaye was pro-Pill (though I suspect partly because the Catholics were against it ;-) ). Only the Catholics and a few marginal fundamentalists were strict “natural” method adherents, still less “screw whenever, and whatever happens is up to God” advocates.

    I can’t believe the American public would seriously contemplate turning the clock back that far. That horse left the barn and headed over the horizon a very long time ago.

  17. D. C. Sessions says

    Ed, it’s also very interesting in that their position can only be read as “pregnancy is the punishment women bear for sex.”

  18. Chiroptera says

    And once again, reading their stuff, it is clear that they think that marriage is all about sex.

    Well, sex and emotionally abusing people who are in a weaker position than yourself. But sex seems to be on their minds a lot.

  19. says

    FRC says:

    While the decision may seem archaic and insignificant by modern sexual standards, Eisenstadt v. Baird dealt a decisive blow to the legal and cultural norm that marriage was the institution for the full expression of the sexual relationship between man and woman.

    Premarital sex has been the overwhelmingly usual behavior for at least eight decades. In the 1930’s, 70% of people (equally divided as regards to sex) had had premarital sex (cite/). Recall that contraception was often illegal back then, but this didn’t discourage premarital sex. In her books, Stephanie Coontz completely destroys the idea that the 1950s were some sort of family values era. She describes her conclusion as “The 1960s generation did not invent premarital and out–of–wedlock sex.” And of course, today 95% of Americans have premarital sex.

    In other words, the ship left the harbour before most people alive were even born.

  20. D. C. Sessions says

    Eamon Knight: condoms were always available — the Army handed them out by the case lot to platoons and I remember seeing machine dispensers in washrooms from childhood. For women, diaphragms were also quite common since approximately forever. Sure, the barrier methods have drawbacks but they work pretty well.

    FWIW, I’m another Boomer (just turned 60) and my parents miraculously managed three in a row at almost perfect 4-year intervals (I think they were hearing the clock start to tick a little loud for my youngest brother, their fourth, who was only two years after the third.) You can figure the odds of that yourself; I never asked. None of my damn business.

    Also bear in mind that these were STATE laws. Connecticut might have been seriously straigt-laced on doctors prescribing the Pill, for instance, but a diaphragm could have been picked up easily enough passing through New York. For all I know they could be ordered by mail once you knew the size, and there aren’t that many sizes.

  21. Who Knows? says

    I can’t believe the American public would seriously contemplate turning the clock back that far.

    This isn’t about the American public here. This is a group of people who want to influence the process to accomplish this by controlling the narative and the appropriate people. They don’t need a majority to sneak this in.

    Some time ago, I would not have believed this possible. But look at Rick Santorum. Someone who has no problem expressing these very views is doing fairly well in the Republican primary due to his faith and fundamentalist stands.

    This is the kind of person they need to put the right people into the right places. His success in the primary, even if he doesn’t win, gives his ideas credibility and influence.

    Or, I could be full of shit. Take your pick.

  22. says

    @21

    In other words, the ship left the harbour before most people alive were even born.

    That last is so very true. And the Supreme Court very rarely creates cultural norms. Its job usually is to simply tidy up and tie the bow after cultural issues have been resolved.

  23. yellowsubmarine says

    Wooooooow. You know what would be the best thing to do in the middle of a financial meltdown? Get everyone pregnant. Flooding the hospitals with people that can’t actually pay for it definitely wont negatively impact our financial recovery. Nope. Definitely not. Also having a metric fuckton of unwanted children definitely wont send our crime rates through the roof in 20 years. I mean it’s not like there’s precedent for that, *cough* Romania *cough*.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2005/06/Where-Have-All-The-Criminals-Gone.aspx?p=1

    This is a funny place to find an article like this methinks.

  24. doktorzoom says

    Incidentally, last weekend I read, in Best American Essays 2011, Bridget Potter’s harrowing account of getting an illegal abortion in 1962–and of course, the author couldn’t get a diaphragm because she wasn’t married. As Potter grimly notes, the fact that her experience was merely horrifying and not deadly made her “lucky.”

  25. Aquaria says

    The U.S. folks who desire to wind the clock back know very well that they will almost never be the targets of enforcement or punishment.

    My mother started her career as a nurse well before Roe. She sat in on many a “D&C” that was actually an abortion. Even though it was illegal, the women paid off doctors (then to the tune of about $10,000), to say that the woman was miscarrying and needed the D&C.

    This happened with stunning regularity, at least 2 or 3 a month when she was working in Dallas, then in Michigan.

    And nothing ever happened to them. The hospital staff weren’t going to say anything, the staff wasn’t going to say anything. So the cops never showed up, and none of those women ever went to jail.

  26. coragyps says

    Re #22:
    Condoms were sold “for the prevention of disease only” back In The Day – it said so right on the machine in the truck stop bathroom. They stopped the clap, but obviously did nothing at all for birth control. Or they would have been illegal!1!

  27. F says

    Oh, they are so full of shit anyway. Sex only in marriage has been a norm at different times in different cultures, in certain segments thereof, for like five minutes. And constantly violated by its proponents.

  28. pacal says

    Once again the Fundies show that they want “illicit” sexual activity punished. And of course since contraceptives enable people to escape punishment, i.e., pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases sale of same must be restricted, so that that those who perform the act outside of marriage will be punished.

    It is so obvious that these types of Fundies want people esspecially young unmarried women to be punished by being forced to have children.

    Yep pregnancy has punishment for being a “slut” in their judgemental narrow minds.

  29. exdrone says

    After Eisenstadt v. Baird is overturned, I guess we’ll have to restrict unmarried people’s access to calendars. They might be tempted to use the rhythm method and get all sexed up.

    On the other hand, instead of discussing access to contraception, maybe we should be considering imposing it … on the far right. Over time, that might make issues like this go away.

  30. Childermass says

    Once again the Fundies show that they want “illicit” sexual activity punished.

    Except, of course, the illicit sexual activity that they themselves are doing but won’t admit to doing. Because that is, of course, different.

  31. The Cat From Outer Space says

    While the decision may seem archaic and insignificant by modern sexual standards, Eisenstadt v. Baird dealt a decisive blow to the legal and cultural norm that marriage was the institution for the full expression of the sexual relationship between man and woman.

    I’ve been with my partner for 7 years. I’m a few years shy of 30 (so is my significant other), so to put it in perspective, we’ve been together for about a quarter of our lives.

    We’re not married. We have no intention of ever getting married, and while I can understand why others might want to get married, and I support that decision completely, it’s just not for us. So, why, oh why, do these douche bags think that my relationship is somehow less than others’, simply because they’ve gone through a ceremony? Why are we excluded from the “full expression of the sexual relationship”? Because I didn’t ask permission from a pastor/priest/ward bishop/mufti?

    Honestly, have these people been outside in the last 50 years?

  32. says

    This and similar measures, taken together, amount to a declaration of war against humanitey by the United States government.

  33. StevoR says

    @ ^ AJS : This isn’t the US govt. Its a small group of really nasty religious whackjobs.

  34. Eoin says

    My closest friend has always been of the opinion that one of the best things that could happen to the US would be for these mad right-wingers to over-reach and succeed with this kind of thing, for example, by overturning Roe v. Wade – they only get away with their repellent actions and rhetoric because people are complacent; they assume their basic rights are inviolate.

    An actual high-profile victory would generate such a backlash that these misogynistic fools would render themselves unelectable, overnight.

    Worryingly, it might take such an event to make people actually sit-up and fight back against the erosion of their rights.

  35. says

    Eoin,

    The problem is, they ARE being elected: Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, etc., and the response hasn’t been outrage, it’s been serious runs at the Presidency, even after we see the insane things happening at the state level under their retrogressive idea of freedom.

  36. says

    As was said earlier in the thread, it’s about property rights. Women shouldn’t be making ANY decisions about who they’re having sex with. As concubines and brood mares, they should just leave all of that sort of thing up to the mens. Keeping the means of controlling reproductivity out of their hands is a start; eventually other, more ‘pro-active’ measures–such as stoning–might need to be implemented.

  37. marcus says

    “The decision dealt a decisive blow to our ability to control other people’s lives and force them to live by our antiquated moral code or be thrown in jail.”
    And that is just so mean.

  38. allyson says

    “An actual high-profile victory would generate such a backlash that these misogynistic fools would render themselves unelectable, overnight.”

    At the cost of how many lives? I keep seeing this thought sprinkled all over the web, that we should “let them win” and then they’ll see the damage and people will learn.

    But it’s not like not studying for the SATs and getting poor grades and not getting into a good school so gosh darnit, you’ve learned your lesson!

    People will die with coat hangers inside them. People will die from ectopic pregnancies. They’ll go into poverty trying to support unwanted children. They’ll try to lead miserable sexless lives to avoid this, because they won’t want to risk their health and liberty. And since women are treated as the gatekeepers of sex, they’ll be punished accordingly for it. It’s a dangerous thought, this, “let them win and that’ll learn em!”

    It might be an easier thing to say when you’re not the one who will become a breeding animal in order to teach the lesson, but I see women saying this as well.

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