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NEW YORK — Sunday, June 7, marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, which protected access to birth control for married couples and also laid the foundation for the right to an abortion and privacy, as well as LGBT civil rights.  This landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision provided the first constitutional protection for birth control and paved the way for where we are today, when 99 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time in their lives and public polling finds overwhelming support for women’s access to birth control.

"Estelle Griswold’s legacy lives on every day for the millions of women experiencing the health, education and economic benefits of birth control,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “Amazingly, we are still fighting to ensure that every woman in America has full access to the birth control method of her choosing — without barriers based on cost, availability, stigma, or other factors — and it's a fight we're determined to win. Many of the gains women have made since 1965 in obtaining education, pursuing careers in increasing numbers, and moving closer to pay equity are the direct result of access to birth control.” 

Because of the transformational impact of birth control on economic advancement, educational attainment, and health outcomes,Bloomberg Businessweek recently listed contraception as one of the most disruptive developments in the business sector in the last 85 years and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named family planning, including access to modern contraception, one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. 

By establishing that women and families had a fundamental right to privacy that reaches their decisions about how to form their families,Griswold laid the foundation for the right to an abortion as well as LGBT civil rights, making it one of the most influential cases Planned Parenthood has brought, but it’s not the only way Planned Parenthood has helped transform birth control access in the U.S.  Planned Parenthood is pioneering birth control delivery via online health services, allowing patients to connect with a clinician via video visit on a computer or mobile device and then receive the pill, the patch or the ring in the mail. And each year, Planned Parenthood participates in approximately 70 clinical research projects including studies of new birth control technologies, strategies to improve access, and other areas of reproductive health care delivery.  For example, Planned Parenthood health centers participated in the clinical trials that led to the FDA approval in February 2015 of Liletta, a new, low-cost IUD that is safe and effective for up to three years.

Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arms are also fighting on numerous fronts to protect and expand access to birth control. In addition to fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act benefit to ensure no-copay birth control for women regardless of bosses’ personal beliefs, Planned Parenthood has worked to fend off more than 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and also educate the public about the impact of King v. Burwell which could roll back access to affordable birth control, other preventive care and maternity care for over four million women, including 1.4 million women of color, if the Court rules the wrong way. And as Congress heads into appropriations season, Planned Parenthood will be fighting to protect programs that put birth control within reach for millions of women, thereby preventing 2.2 million unintended pregnancies and saving the state and federal governments $7 for every $1 public dollar spent. 

Planned Parenthood supports genuine efforts on the state and federal levels to expand access to birth control, including efforts to make it available over-the-counter with insurance coverage. Local Planned Parenthood organizations are also working to protect and expand access to birth control; for instance, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oregon are currently working to advance a measure that research shows could reduce unintended pregnancies by 30 percent by requiring insurance coverage of a prescription for up to a full-year’s supply of birth control at a time.

“The public health legacy of Griswold cannot be overstated. It opened a pivotal door for the expansion of vital reproductive health services for women and their families,” said Judy Tabar, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, covering Connecticut and Rhode Island. “Planned Parenthood has been at the forefront of women’s rights for nearly 100 years, and Estelle Griswold’s fearless and pioneering leadership is a prime example of that commitment.”

In 1961, Estelle Griswold, then the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, and medical director C. Lee Buxton, chair of the Yale University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, opened a birth control clinic in New Haven. They were arrested and fined in violation of a Connecticut state law that prevented the use of any contraceptive drug or device.  Four years later, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was successfully argued that women and families have a fundamental right to privacy and the ability to make their own family planning decisions.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


June 04, 2015