Birth Control

birth-control-pills.jpgGriswold v. Connecticut (1965)

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a state's ban on the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. The case concerned a Connecticut law that criminalized the encouragement or use of birth control. The 1879 law provided that "any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purposes of preventing conception shall be fined not less than forty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days." The law further provided that "any person who assists, abets, counsels, causes, hires or commands another to commit any offense may be prosecuted and punished as if he were the principle offender."

Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, doctor and professor at Yale Medical School, were arrested and found guilty as accessories to providing illegal contraception. They were fined $100 each. Griswold and Buxton appealed to the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut, claiming that the law violated the U.S. Constitution. The Connecticut court upheld the conviction, and Griswold and Buxton appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reviewed the case in 1965.

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision written by Justice William ruled that the law violated the "right to marital privacy" and could not be enforced against married people. Justice Douglas contended that the Bill of right's specific guarantees have "penumbras," created by "emanations from these guarantees that help give them life and opinion." In other words, the "spirit" of the 1st ammendment (free speech), 3rd amendment (prohibition on the forced quartering of troops), Fourth Amendment (freedom from searches and seizures), 5th amendment (freedom from self-incrimination), and 9th amendment (other rights), as applied against the states by the 14th amendment, creates a general "right to privacy" that cannot be unduly infringed.

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Pope John Paul - Humanae Vitae
On July 29, 1968, the Pope issued an encyclical-- or papal letter-- called "Humanae Vitae," or "Of Human Life," in which he reaffirmed the Church's long-standing opposition to artificial contraception, including oral pharmaceutical contraceptives--or the pill, which had been on the market since 1960. The Pope's predecessor, John XXIII, had set the process in motion by establishing a commission to study birth control and the worldwide overpopulation crisis. But Paul was a much more conservative leader, and he emphatically rejected the recommendation of the commission's majority that the Church approve at least some form of contraception for married couples (who, of course, were the only ones who were supposed to be having sex).


Birth control was widely seen as a way to raise the standard of living in poor, third-world countries, especially in largely Catholic Latin America. WIth the advent of safe and effective oral contraceptives, this goal seemed within reach. "Humanae Vitae" threw up an impermeable barrier to these efforts. (Except, of course, for the fact that many millions of Catholics just ignored the Pope's strictures.)



Annotated bibliography
I used google images for my photos.For pope john paul VI i got my image from orthodox.com.For my information i used various sites.I took certain pieces of information from each page and reworded it in my own words to explain birth control.