ACSBlog

  • June 8, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Nancy Northup, President and CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights

    *This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.

    Fifty years ago yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that forever changed the legal landscape of our right to plan our families and make private decisions that are fundamental to our lives.  The 1965 case, Griswold v. Connecticut, found that married couples have a constitutional right to obtain and use birth control when planning their families, free from antiquated laws that criminalized their doctors and prevented them from making personal decisions about when and whether to have children.

    Griswold’s recognition of a constitutional right to privacy was a first step towards the Court’s subsequent decisions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Lawrence v. Texas, which found the right to liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment protects a broad set of liberty rights ― including the rights to bodily integrity, family decision making, and personal dignity and autonomy ― as well as privacy.

    But the story does not end there.  Far too many American women still face an uphill battle when trying to plan their families ― including efforts by politicians to choke off women’s access to emergency contraception and defund family planning clinics which provide low or no cost birth control.

    Political hurdles such as these are especially high for women living in poor, rural, and immigrant communities ― where access to any health care services can be sparse and the cost of contraception could mean the difference between making the rent and putting food on the table.  And when women don’t have access to reproductive health care, the impact is clear: Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended or mistimed ― one of the highest amongst developed nations in the world.

  • June 8, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Jerry Markon reports for The Washington Post that the White House has stopped work on its immigration program in response to numerous legal setbacks this year.

    At SalonHeather Digby Parton writes about the plot against the Affordable Care Act and the dire circumstances that would arise should the Court rule against the healthcare law. 

    Sarah Kliff of Vox takes a critical look at the GOP's five plans to fix the Affordable Care Act should the Supreme Court strikes down the law.

    At SlateMichael J. Socolow explains how television stations are the major winners of the Citizens United ruling. 

    Kenneth Jost considers at Jost on Justice Texas's challenge to the "one-person, one-vote" rule that the Supreme Court granted cert to late last month.

     

     

  • June 5, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Davida Silverman and Adriana Kohler. Silverman is Senior Policy Analyst for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Kohler is Public Policy Analyst for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

    *This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark United States Supreme Court decision that affirmed the right of privacy and right for married couples to use contraception.  This decision was the first in a series of events that transformed the lives of American women and their families.  

    Half a century later, birth control has become integral to a woman’s life: More than 99 percent of sexually active women have used at least one form of birth control at some point in their lives. Yet, there is still a very real danger that the right to birth control may be derailed through legal attacks and ongoing efforts by lawmakers to undermine access to contraception.

     

    The Benefits

    Access to birth control has dramatically improved women’s lives and ushered in profound societal changes:  

    Birth control has contributed to the significant decline in unintended pregnancies, dramatic improvements in maternal and infant health, decreased rates of infant death, and women’s educational, political, professional, and social advancements.  

    In fact, one-third of the wage gains women have made since the 1960s are the result of access to oral contraceptives, and being able to get the birth control pill before age 21 has been found to be the most influential factor in enabling women enrolled in college to stay in college.  

    Additionally, a study on the long-term effects of access to contraception found that individuals born in the years immediately after the rollout of federal family planning programs were less likely to live in poverty in childhood and as adults.  

    Access to birth control also has helped bring teen pregnancy rates to a 40-year low.

     

    Making Legal Birth Control Affordable

    Even though birth control became legal and widely available after Griswold, lack of insurance coverage and cost barriers continued to prevent women — particularly lower-income women and women of color — from accessing the birth control they needed. Out-of-pocket costs for birth control could amount to up to $600 per year, depending on the birth control method.

    In response, roughly 45 years after Griswold, women’s health champions in Congress pushed for a key provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would require most health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive care without out-of-pocket costs. The administration tasked the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine to determine which women’s health services to consider preventive. Based on those recommendations, the Obama administration adopted guidelines in 2011 (which took effect in 2012) affirming that the women’s preventive health provision must include coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods without out-of-pocket costs.

  • June 5, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Director of Reproductive Health Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families

    *This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.

    On Sunday, I’m getting married.  As I prepare for this milestone and draft my vows, I’m thinking about our life together and the family we might someday create.  About the promises we’ll make to support each other through life’s twists and turns.  And about our partnership in decision making and family life.

    In this moment, my mind turns to Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision first protecting the right of married couples to access contraception, which will mark its 50th anniversary on the day of my wedding.

    These two events are inextricably linked – and not only because I’m a reproductive rights advocate.  Griswold is foundational to my equality in our upcoming marriage.  It guarantees my ability to pursue my chosen career (law) the same way that my fiancé pursues his (medicine).  Griswold allows my career to be valued in our relationship and ensures that our joint decisions will further our professional choices.  And it enabled us to spend the last 3 1/2 years in a wonderful romance exploring the potential of a life together – without being forced into parenthood before we are ready.

    Griswold makes my marriage possible because it makes my life possible.  Professors Reva Siegel and Neil Siegel have described Griswold as “offer[ing] women the most significant constitutional protection since the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, constitutional protection as important as the cases prohibiting sex discrimination that the Court would decide in the next decade – perhaps even more so.”  The Connecticut ban at issue in Griswold prohibited “[a]ny person” from “us[ing] any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.”  This denied women control over their reproductive lives, affecting their ability to obtain an education, pursue their careers, become financially stable, and follow their dreams.  As the U.S. Supreme Court put it three decades later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

  • June 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a voice vote to report out of committee four judicial nominees. Dale A. Drozd, nominee for United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California, Lawrence J. Vilardo, nominee for United States District Judge for the Western District of New York, and Ann Donnelly and LaShann DeArcy Hall, nominees for United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, were all voted out of committee.

    As the blog for the Alliance for Justice explains, these four district court nominees are nominated to “some of the most overburdened courts in the country.” Whether Senator Mitch McConnell will allow the Senate to confirm these qualified nominees is still unclear. But with three of the four nominees slated to fill designated “judicial emergencies,” there is added pressure for the Senate to consider them quickly.  

    Despite this important and positive move for judicial nominations, many other areas of the country still have longstanding judicial emergencies. Texas courts, in particular, are severely overburdened due to the large number of judicial vacancies. The blog for the Alliance for Justice takes a look at the situation in Texas, arguing that “the Senate’s Republican majority in 2015 has so far fallen short of its constitutional duty to confirm judicial nominees.” As the blog for People for the American Way argues, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are largely responsible for the “dire straits” of the federal court system in Texas.

    There are currently 56 vacancies, and 24 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 17 pending nominees. For more information see judicialnominations.org.