*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.”