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NEWS IN CONTEXT

Legal Birth Control Turns 40

June 6, 2005

Tuesday, June 7, marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. This 1965 decision, which considered a Connecticut law criminalizing the provision of counseling and medical treatment to married persons for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, recognized the constitutional right of married couples to use contraceptives.

Forty years after this landmark decision, many U.S. women still have problems obtaining contraceptives and preventing unwanted pregnancies, and state and federal policies increasingly limit women’s access to contraceptive information and services.

  • Public funding for family planning fails to keep up with the demand—nearly 17 million women are in need of subsidized family planning, yet only 4 in 10 of these women receive services at publicly funded clinics.
  • Federal legislation guaranteeing insurance coverage for contraception is stalled indefinitely.
  • State and federal laws are allowing health care providers (including pharmacists), institutions and insurers to refuse to offer or cover contraceptive services.
  • Federally funded abstinence-only education prohibits teachers from discussing contraception, except in the context of failure rates.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly resisted attempts to make emergency contraception available over the counter, despite overwhelming support from its own advisory committees.

Click on the links below for more information on:

U.S. women’s contraceptive use

The importance of contraception in reducing unwanted pregnancy

Health care providers’ refusal to offer services

The dangers of limiting teens’ access to information and services