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The Right to Use Contraception is Only 50 Years Old

The Right to Use Contraception is Only 50 Years Old

June 7 marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraception. Although this decision is not as much of a household name as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion, the 1965 Griswold decision made Roe possible by establishing that married couples have a constitutional right to privacy. The Court extended this right to unmarried couples in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), and one year later, the right to privacy formed the bedrock of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court, the final arbiter of often the most complex and difficult judicial questions, had to step in to state the obvious—that married couples should be able to make their own decisions about their own private lives—seems ridiculous, especially in 1965. But even today, the debates over reproductive health care sometimes defy common sense. Reproductive health decisions must be between a woman and whomever else she chooses to include—such as family, a doctor, or clergy—unburdened by policies that restrict access.

The Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage provision affirmed the right to contraceptive access by requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of contraception, just as they do all women’s preventive services. Although the contraceptive coverage provision has been in effect since 2013, not all insurance companies that are required to provide coverage are doing so as instructed. Last month, the Obama Administration issued a communication, in the form of FAQs, to make absolutely clear that insurance companies must cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception. The White House, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of the Treasury jointly issued the FAQs not two weeks after the National Women’s Law Center issued a report, “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” finding widespread insurance company violations of the contraceptive coverage provision.

The Reform Movement is proud of its long history of advocacy to protect a woman’s right to make her own health decisions and to have safe, legal and affordable access to health care. As our tradition commands women to care for their own health and well-being above all else, we must continue to fight to ensure that all women and their families have safe, legal and affordable access to all health care services.

Our support continues as we fight these new battles in the contraception debate. Today, as we did on the Roe v. Wade anniversary in January, we celebrate how far we’ve come and recommit ourselves to continuing to push for affordable and accessible contraception for all. Urge your Members of Congress to oppose dangerous restrictions on reproductive health care access!