Griswald: A turning-point in reproductive rights

Today’s post comes courtesy of Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the region hub including Las Vegas.

Legal Birth Control: An Overlooked Milestone

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a state law that made the use of birth control by married couples illegal. The court’s landmark decision in 1965 came five years after oral contraceptives became available to American women and provided the first constitutional protection for women across the country to access birth control. Before that, a woman’s ability to control the size and timing of her family depended on her zip code.

Since Griswold, maternal and infant health have improved dramatically, and women have been able to fulfill increasingly diverse educational, social, political, and professional aspirations. The number of women in the U.S. labor force has more than tripled, the number of women lawyers has increased ten-fold, the number completing four or more years of college has increased more than five-fold, and in 2010 women received more than half of all doctoral degrees. This is enormous progress and it will only continue thanks to “Obamacare,” also known as the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, birth control will be seen as a preventive benefit in health insurance plans and available to women without costly co-pays.

Today, 99 percent of sexually active women say they have used birth control at some point in their lives – with 58 percent of those reporting that they use it for a wide range of health reasons, like preventing cancer. That’s why Planned Parenthood fought hard to ensure that all FDA-approved contraception methods, including emergency contraception, are covered under the ACA’s preventive benefit. This benefit is supported by the nation’s leading medical experts like the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Already, women are reporting savings of up to $600 a year on prescriptions – that’s the equivalent of five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks. When fully enacted, the ACA will give approximately 47 million women nationally access to birth control, without cost being an issue.

Despite its obvious health and economic benefits, there are still politicians and bosses standing in the way. Ten states have laws allowing health care providers to refuse to provide birth control, and there are six states with laws or regulations which permit pharmacists to refuse to fill a woman’s birth control prescription. Just recently, politicians in Congress tried to repeal the ACA and its historic benefits for millions of women. And, more than a dozen lawsuits brought by bosses of private companies who think they should be allowed to stand between a woman and her birth control are still making their way through the courts.

Locally Hobby Lobby and Hercules Industries Inc. (a Colorado based heating and air conditioning company) have done just that. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, along with other supporters of women’s health, filed an Amicus brief against the for-profit company Hobby Lobby. This brief highlights the important benefits of birth control for women, their families, and the nation as a whole.

Today, on the 48th anniversary of Griswold, PPRM celebrates the promise of the ACA and we will continue our work to ensure that every woman – no matter where she lives or who her boss is – has access to birth control, without cost being an issue.

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