As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, we must also reflect upon the long way we have to go.
States continue to slash family planning budgets and anti-choice legislatures try to restrict patients’ access to birth control. Right-wing legislators purport to support contraception access by creating legislation that would allow the pill to be sold over-the-counter -but such legislation would further restrict access, since over the counter medications are not covered by insurance and costs could be prohibitive as in the case of IUDs, a long-acting, reversible contraceptive, that is among the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy.
A great example of this is a Colorado family planning initiative that helped the state reduce its teen birthrate by 40 percent in four years. An anonymous donor gave $26 million in 2008 to provide low-income women with free IUDs. The program contributed to a steep decline in teen pregnancy and abortion rates in Colorado, and according to a press release from the governor’s office, the state saved $42 million on healthcare expenditures related to teen births in 2010 alone. However on April 29th, one day after the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association recognized the program with a prestigious award for its achievements in public health, the Colorado legislature voted not to fund it. the.
Funding cuts to programs like Colorado’s disproportionately impact low-income women, many of whom are uninsured and cannot otherwise afford birth control. An IUD can cost upwards of $500, money that would otherwise buy food, pay rent, or go towards childcare.
The Colorado legislature’s vote to deny access to contraceptives to low-income Colorado women ironically coincides with the upcoming 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to privacy. Although Griswold only guaranteed the right to privacy to married couples, it paved the way for subsequent Supreme Court decisions extending to all individuals the right to contraception.
These kinds of attacks on reproductive rights were unacceptable 50 years ago when Griswold was decided, and they are even more unacceptable today. Women have advanced economically, medically, and socially in large part because of increased control over their reproductive destinies.
Denying people access to birth control is dangerous and irresponsible, and we simply cannot afford to live in an era where contraceptive access is under attack.