"The View" on abortion: These pleasure-seeking right-wingers don't consider the consequences of sex

Actual quote: “It’s almost like they don’t want to see that part. They just want to see the fun in the bed, not the second part.”

Am I awake?

I’ve heard a lot of pro-choice arguments in my day but I’ve never heard someone accuse the anti-abortion side of the debate of being cavalier about the stakes in pregnancy. Especially religious pro-lifers. Normally the left’s knock on them is the opposite of Joy Behar’s take here, that they view sex through the too-narrow lens of procreation rather than as something pleasurable in its own right.

But Joy’s giving away the game, isn’t she? Because pregnancy is difficult and disruptive and expensive for a woman, her view is that women should be able to end that pregnancy as easily as possible. There are no other moral considerations. To the extent pro-lifers believe there’s a very important reason for that pregnancy not to be terminated despite the burden it creates, somehow they’re the ones who aren’t thinking through the implications of intercourse.

Does Behar think pro-life women, of whom there are many millions and who bear the consequences of pregnancy directly, also don’t consider the consequences of sex when they hit the sheets? Or is she so deluded about the gender politics of this issue that she’s convinced herself only men would legally oblige women to carry to term?

If the past few days is any indication, the pro-choice commentary over the next six months as SCOTUS nears a decision about Roe will be even more inane and hyperbolic than we thought. Behar’s rant wasn’t even the dumbest moment from yesterday’s show. According to Charles Cooke, Whoopi Goldberg was left sputtering with rage at the idea that men might dare to advocate for the unborn:

Goldberg continued her jeremiad by asking irately of Samuel Alito, “How dare you talk about what a fetus wants? You have no idea.”

Which, well . . . what? I have read this sentence nine times now, and I am still no closer to establishing what Goldberg could possibly think she means. Is she arguing that, as a rule, unborn children might be suicidal, and that abortion is doing them a favor? Is she arguing that some unborn children wish to live and some wish to die, and that it remains a mystery which is which? Is she arguing that, because men do not “have any eggs or the possibility of carrying a fetus,” they are unable to intuit “what a fetus wants,” whereas women somehow can? And, if so, what about pro-life women who believe that their unborn children deserve protection from the moment of conception? Is Goldberg’s implication that, through some extraordinary alchemy, the wishes of the mother and the wishes of the unborn child are bound always to mesh — as if Baby A’s most heartfelt desire is to be born and to be named Steve, while Baby B’s is to have his brains sucked out with a vacuum? In the quotation to which Goldberg objected, Justice Alito was being asked to balance competing interests, and he was inquiring as how he should do that. In what possible universe can his assumption that unborn children want to live be so controversial as to deserve an incensed “how dare you”?

The New York Times has a column today by a woman who was given up for adoption by her birth mother, had a wonderful childhood thanks to her adoptive parents, and nonetheless finds herself offended that Amy Coney Barrett (an adoptive mother herself) and other conservative justices fail to appreciate the difficulty, expense, and trauma of the adoption process in preferring it to abortion. This is where we’re at already with many months to go before Dobbs is decided. Adopted progressives are arguing that adoption might be worse than abortion.

What is this “debate” going to look like by next summer?

And what will it look like six months after that? One school of thought on the right is that overturning Roe will cause upheaval in American politics in the short term but calm the waters in the long term. SCOTUS nominations would no longer be death struggles under this theory since the justices would no longer be responsible for setting abortion policy. Blue states and red states will each be able to set their own abortion rules, satisfying the majority of their respective populations. A consensus might even emerge piecemeal across purplish states, allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks or so and banning it thereafter. That’s a view that many Americans take of the issue and would bring the U.S. into closer alignment with Europe’s policies. The abortion wars might be over!

Or they might get worse. I’m with Charlie Sykes in betting that they’ll get worse:

There will be protests, boycotts, and calls for sweeping federal legislation. Unified GOP control of Congress and the presidency will inevitably lead to calls to federalize Mississippi-like restrictions. In this environment, the extremes will define themselves by their hostility to compromises of any sort.

(I imagine it playing out like this: J.D. Vance comes out for a ban after 6 weeks; Josh Mandel calls for a ban after 2 weeks; MTG declares that all true conservatives support a total ban; and Madison Cawthorn insists that the true pro-life position demands the death penalty for doctors who perform the procedure.)

Every legislative and governor’s race now becomes a referendum on abortion.

Every congressional and senate race will be a referendum on abortion.

The 2024 presidential race will be a referendum on abortion.

Correct, and I don’t think SCOTUS nominations would suddenly be free of Roe either. Instead of Republicans treating overturning Roe as a litmus test for their nominees, Democrats will treat overturning Dobbs as a litmus test for their own. If the right can build a majority on the Court that’s willing to get rid of legal abortion, the left can start working towards building a majority that’ll bring it back. Meanwhile, at the state level, more pro-choice doctors in blue states will begin providing abortions in order to meet skyrocketing demand from women who live in red states and who now have to travel for the procedure. Demand for abortifacient drugs in those states will also soar, leading to shipments by mail from offshore suppliers and efforts by state governments to intercept those shipments. There might even be an attempt by some Republican states to criminally punish a woman for traveling to another state where abortion is legal to have the procedure.

Whether that would be constitutional is above my pay grade. But Sykes’s point is that in an era of intense polarization, returning abortion policy to majoritarian institutions will create pressure on governments to pander to their base by taking the most extreme stance possible. Blue states may become abortion factories to a greater extent than they already are. Red states may go for total bans even though only a minority of Americans favor that position. Ending legal abortion is the right thing to do morally but we shouldn’t kid ourselves about whether it’ll make the country more governable or less.