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In 1965 the Supreme Court ruled on a case concerning a Connecticut law that criminalized the use of birth control.  

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut marked the beginning of an era of change for sexual and reproductive rights in the United States. Ruling that the states had no right to ban contraception for married couples, the landmark decision in the Griswold v. Connecticut case 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.”

The Significance of Griswold v. Connecticut

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 people to lead healthier lives across the board. People take the pill for a variety of reasons. In fact, 58% 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.

Thanks in part to the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, and the possibilities the decision created, birth control has had a dramatic impact on individuals and families in this country — allowing people to invest in their futures and their careers and giving them time to plan for their families.  

  • A report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that people 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 completed four or more years of college multiplied by six.
  • The number of married women in the labor force nearly doubled between 1960 and 2012.

Abortion and the Supreme Court

Learn about Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the United States in 1973. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in 2022.

More on Roe v. Wade

More on Birth Control and the Supreme Court

Can bosses and colleges deny their employees and students access to birth control coverage? That was the question the U.S. Supreme Court was supposed to answer in the case of Zubik v. Burwell.

More on Zubik v. Burwell