Griswold v Connecticut1




Griswold v. Connecticut



On June 7, 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, struck down state laws that had made the use of birth control by married couples illegal. The court\'s landmark decision - coming five years after oral contraceptives became available to American women and 49 years after Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic
in the U.S. - legalized the use of birth control and paved the way for the nearly unanimous acceptance of contraception that now exists in this country.

The court\'s recognition of individuals\' right to privacy in deciding when and whether to have a child in Griswold became the basis for later reproductive rights decisions. In Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), the court granted unmarried couples access to contraception, and in Roe v. Wade (1973), the court recognized a woman\'s right to choose abortion. While challenges remain in the struggle to provide universal access to birth control, the court\'s 1965 decision in Griswold granted constitutional protection to the life-enhancing work of Planned Parenthood and other advocates of reproductive freedom in the U.S.

In the 35 years since birth control for married couples was legalized in the U.S., profound and beneficial social changes occurred, in large part because of women\'s relatively new freedom to control their fertility - maternal and infant health have improved dramatically, the infant death rate has plummeted, and women have been able to fulfill
increasingly diverse educational, social, political, and professional aspirations.

The ability to plan and space pregnancies has contributed to improved maternal, infant, and family health.

In 1965, there were 31.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, many resulting from illegal abortions (NCHS, 1967). In 1996, the rate had been reduced by 76 percent, to 7.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).

In 1965, 24.7 infants under one year of age died per 1,000 live births (NCHS, 1967). In 1997, this figure had declined to 7.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).

Since 1965, there has been a dramatic decline in unwanted births, the result of pregnancies that women wanted neither at the time they were conceived nor at any future time. This decline is particularly welcome because unwanted births are associated with delayed access to prenatal care and increased child abuse and neglect (Piccinino, 1994;
Committee on Unintended Pregnancy, 1995).

In 1961-1965, 20 percent of births to married women in the U.S. were unwanted. (Mosher, 1988). By 1995, only 6.5 percent of births to married women in the United States were unwanted (Abma et al.,1997).Mistimed births - those that happened sooner than the mother wanted them - have also declined markedly.

In 1961-1965, 45 percent of births to married American women were mistimed; (Mosher, 1988); in 1995, only 14.8 percent of births to married women in the U.S. were mistimed (Abma et al., 1997).

By enabling women to control their fertility, access to contraception broadens their ability to make other choices about their lives, including those related to education and employment.


Since 1965, the number of women in the U.S. labor force more than doubled, and women\'s income now constitutes a growing proportion of family income.

In 1965, 26.2 million women participated in the U.S. labor force; by
1998, the number had risen to 63.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau,
1999).

The labor force participation rate of married women nearly doubled between 1960 and 1998 - from 31.9 to 61.2 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).

In a 1994 survey, more than half of employed women said they provided at least half of their household\'s income (Lewin, 1995).

In 1965 the median family income of married-couple families in which both partners worked was approximately one-half of the median family income of families in which the husband alone worked. By 1997, families in which both partners worked were earning a median income nearly two-thirds higher than the income of families in which the husband alone worked (U.S. Census Bureau, 1998).

Among married women who worked full time in 1993, women contributed a median of 41 percent of the family\'s income (Lewin, 1995).

By 1998, 22.7 percent of women in dual-income families earned more than their husbands (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999a).

Between 1960 and 1998 the percentage of women who had completed four or more years of college nearly quadrupled - from 5.8 percent to 22.4 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999).

Publicly funded contraception programs have increased the ability