Why Birth Control Matters for All of Us

Why Birth Control Matters for All of Us June 8, 2015

Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v Connecticut, the landmark case that made birth control far more available nationwide. ThinkProgress has some thoughts on why that has been so positively transforming in the lives of women and families.

For women’s health advocates, Griswold v. Connecticut represents a landmark case that helped establish lasting legal precedent about privacy and reproductive health. And the decision’s 50th anniversary on Sunday serves as a reminder of all the ways in which legal contraception has changed Americans’ lives.

“In part because of the fight that Estelle Griswold led 50 years ago, most people who get college degrees in this country are women, and half of the graduates from law school and medical school are women,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told ThinkProgress in a statement via email. “Access to birth control has transformed women’s health outcomes, educational attainment, and economic opportunity.”

Indeed, a large body of research has linked contraception to American women’s ability to control almost every aspect of their lives. Public health experts — who have designated birth control as one of the most important advances of the 20th century — don’t mince words about the role that contraception has played over the past several decades. It reduces unintended pregnancies, helps women space their childbearing, and leads to healthier babies.

“Birth control, as a core component of family planning, is one of the most important public health success stories of our generation,” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, told ThinkProgress. “We politicize it way too much and underemphasize its enormous benefits.”

And remember that, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, the real goal of the anti-abortion movement is not merely to end abortion, it is to make birth control far less available as well (and in some cases, actually illegal). That’s why the Hobby Lobby case happened. It’s why we have presidential candidates like Rick Santorum railing about the evils of birth control. And that opposition is, I believe, largely because of the benefits mentioned above. They don’t want women to be able to control their reproduction, at least in part because they don’t want women to work outside the home or get an education. They see those benefits as a bad thing because it departs from what they think is God’s plan for what women should do and what families should look like.

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