*This post is part of ACSblog’s symposium honoring the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.
When it comes to our most intimate experiences and decisions, the right to privacy should arm the many, not just shield the few who can afford to pay for it. We’ve learned in the years since Griswold v. Connecticut that privacy is not a panacea for the fulfillment of all people’s sexual and reproductive rights. The right to privacy has not granted secure and reliable respect for decisions we make in our bedrooms and about our bodies. This is especially disappointing in a country that places such a legal and cultural premium on matters of autonomy and individualism – particularly in the private sphere.
Cast in the mold of Griswold’s privacy-based right to use contraception, the right to choose abortion declared in Roe v. Wade similarly presents an important avenue but imperfect vehicle for everyone’s guaranteed arrival at reproductive self-determination. Courts have allowed the proliferation of countless contractions, exemptions, and restrictions on the rights to abortion and contraception, siphoning power out of the hands of individuals wishing to exercise their reproductive rights and into the hands of states, corporations, and institutions wishing to constrain or control them.