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Posted by on Jun 9, 2011 in Law | 30 comments

Thank the Gods for Griswold v. Connecticut

WASHINGTON – There is no case that means more to modern women than Griswold v. Connecticut, at least that’s my take.

Estelle Griswold, left, of New Haven, Connecticut, reading a newspaper account of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in her case.

June 7th, 2011 marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark 1965 Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized family planning and the right to individual privacy in family planning decisions. But nearly 50 years later, women in the United States can hardly find cause for celebration, because we are engaged in a full-on battle to maintain access to contraception. – Jodi Jacobson

Jodi Jacobson has a terrific piece on Griswold‘s anniversary, drilling home the challenge women still have today in getting access to contraception. It’s something Margaret Sanger gave her life to so many years ago.

No one group is more responsible for the lack of reproductive health care, counseling and absence of full contraceptive availability than the Republican Party and their surrogates. The women of the Right who are against this basic public necessity are a disgrace.

That Speaker Pelosi, the first female speaker in U.S. history, and Pres. Obama helped Democrats like Rep. Stupak marginalize women’s freedoms in the health care bill was breaking faith with women who helped elect these officials. When Obama doubled down to take funding away from the women of Washington, D.C. he made matters worse.

To teach Democrats a lesson, putting a Republican in the White House would simply hurt more women. However, the economics of the times, which hits women very hard, has taken our eyes off reproductive health care to the economy. The sad truth is we’re not getting equal attention from either big party who’ll be hawking their policies for 2012 and promising the moon.

Don’t believe Obama or the Republican nominee.

Today, Republicans and some Democrats are attempting to circumvent what women (and every other American) won through this Supreme Court decision, by waging a war against female freedoms that is attempting to make us a prisoner of the states we live in. Many of the laws legislatures are trumpeting or passing clearly smacking into and against Roe, but advocates are too frightened to take them on, which NOW President Terry O’Neill said to Rachel Maddow, while Roe v. Wade becomes “obsolete” in the views of some analysts.

One day Americans will have to ask is freedom just for men?

Because when you take away a woman’s right to privacy, which begins with the power to control her own body, you are making us unequal to males.

There are laws that come with Roe v. Wade that make women take responsibility in a way that puts the notion of “abortion on demand” down. That’s not what any intelligently mature female is asking. We all know we have restrictions, which I fully support.

Abortion is a legal, safe and an important reproductive health option in extreme circumstance that includes abortificients and other methods of stopping pregnancy. It is a woman’s legal right to make this decision without the interference of any bureaucrat, religious fanatic, or legislator.

If you don’t want an abortion don’t have one, was the text of a bumper sticker in Missouri, where I grew up, that caused a lot of trouble, but there’s truth in it.

If you get in a situation where you feel there is no other choice, don’t feel ashamed and don’t allow anyone to tell you it’s wrong, because you are the only one who knows.

It’s difficult, for some it’s tragic. For other women it’s a matter of personal survival.

Justice Earl Warren, appointed by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a great man and the Supreme Court, the Warren Court, he presided over helped make women equal, with Justice William O. Douglas writing the majority opinion. Justice Warren followed Thomas Jefferson’s idea of the U.S. Constitution to the letter.

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” – Thomas Jefferson (engraved on one wall of the Jefferson Memorial.)

Today the Republican Party and some Democrats are trying to undo Roe v. Wade, but what they really want to obliterate from U.S. history is Griswold.

Griswold v. Connecticut

Facts of the Case:

Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counselling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.

Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple’s ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?

Conclusion: Though the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. Together, the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, create a new constitutional right, the right to privacy in marital relations. The Connecticut statute conflicts with the exercise of this right and is therefore null and void.

Taylor Marsh is a Washington based political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.