In 1965 the Supreme Court ruled on a case concerning a Connecticut law that criminalized the use of birth control. Ruling that the states had no right to ban contraception for married couples, the landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut established — for the first time — a constitutional right to privacy regarding reproductive decisions that paved the way for the legalization of birth control for unmarried couples, and ultimately, Roe v. Wade and safe and legal abortion.
It signified the court’s belief that people should be free from the unnecessary interference of the state and considered “the very idea [of searching marital bedrooms for contraception] is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.”
In 1965, at the time of the Griswold decision, 32 women were dying for every 100,000 live births in America. Today, the rate is less than half that. Infant mortality has fallen even faster – from 25 deaths to six deaths per 1,000 live births. Access to birth control has also helped women to lead healthier lives across the board. Women take the pill for a variety of reasons — in fact 58 percent of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, cramps, or even acne.
Birth control has had such a dramatic impact on women and families in this country — allowing women to invest in their futures and their careers and giving them time to plan for their families. A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that women use contraception to achieve their life goals. When you look at the numbers, it couldn’t be clearer: from 1960 to 2011, the percentage of women who have completed four or more years of college has multiplied by six — and the number of married women in the labor force has nearly doubled between 1960 and 2012.