Griswold v Connecticut

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  • Connecticut passed the Comstock Act of 1879, making it illegal to use any kind of contraceptive
  • The planned parenthood league of Connecticut's executive director Estelle Griswold and volunteer Dr. Buxton opened a birth control clinic in New Haven in 1961
  • Griswold and Buxton were arrested, tried and found guilty as accessories to providing illegal contraceptives to married couples
  • Griswold appealed her conviction to the US supreme court, arguing that the act was in breach of the 14th amendment
  • Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that the law violated the "right to marital privacy" and could not be enforced against married people, with majority opinion by Justice William O. Douglas. Although the Constitution does not specifically protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras that establish this right
  • This court case was a start to a huge movement involving the right to privacy. Over the next few years, the ideas expressed in this court case expanded to allowing the use of contraceptives to anyone, not just married couples (Eisenstadt v. Baird, 1972), and ruling that states could not ban most abortions (Row v. Wade, 1973).
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