As the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut in the fifties and sixties, Estelle Griswold spent years fighting an 1879 state law that made it illegal to use or prescribe contraception. Finally, she decided: The only way to change the law was to break it. So she rolled up her sleeves and opened a birth control clinic in New Haven, along with her medical director, C. Lee Buxton, MD. Sure enough, the police raided the clinic and arrested Griswold and Buxton.
GriswoldÃ‚Â took her case all the way to the Supreme CourtÃ¢â‚¬”and on June 7, 1965, she won, legalizing birth control in the state of Connecticut for married couples. Forty-eight years after Griswold v. Connecticut, women across America continue to see the fruits of Griswold's labor:
She improved women's health When the Griswold decision was handed down, 32 women died for every 100,000 live births in America. Today, the rate is less than half that. Infant mortality has fallen even fasterÃ¢â‚¬”from 25 to six deaths per 1,000 live births. Access to birth control has also helped women to lead healthier lives across the board. Planned Parenthood health care providers see patients every day whose doctors have prescribed the Pill for endometriosis, cramps, acne, and more. In fact, 58 percent of all women who use the Pill rely on it at least in part for something other than pregnancy prevention.
She ledÃ‚Â the way to Roe v. Wade In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court identifiedÃ¢â‚¬”for the first timeÃ¢â‚¬”a constitutional right to privacy that paved the way for the legalization of birth control for unmarried couples and, ultimately, Roe v. Wade and safe and legal abortion.
She helped Planned Parenthood be there for millions of women The year Griswold was arrested, Planned Parenthood health centers around the country provided birth control information and supplies to nearly 164,000 patients. Today, Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide see nearly three million patients a yearÃ¢â‚¬”including two million women for contraceptionÃ¢â‚¬”and provide health information and services to millions more online.
She encouraged generations of women to follow their dreams A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that women use contraception to achieve their life goals. The numbers back it up: From 1960 to 2011, the percentage of women who have completed four or more years of college has multiplied by sixÃ¢â‚¬”and the number of married women in the labor force has nearly doubled between 1960 and 2012.
She helped women bring home the bacon A University of Michigan study found that fully one-third of womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wage gains since the 1960s are due to the PillÃ¢â‚¬”and today, more women than ever are primary breadwinners in their households.
She opened the door to a huge milestone Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, for the first time, womenÃ¢â‚¬”no matter where they workÃ¢â‚¬”will have access to birth control with no co-pay. An estimated 27 million women nationwide are already benefiting from the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s preventive services provision, which went into effect last August. When all is said and done, approximately 47 million women across the country stand to benefit from the provision.
So today, on the anniversary of one of Griswold's greatest accomplishments, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s remember her courage and the impact she hadÃ¢â‚¬”and continue to lead the charge to make sure more women have access to affordable birth control.