Letter to the editor: Family planning should be available to all womenThe U.S. Supreme Court opened a new era in civil rights 46 years ago last week. In its ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, the court struck down a Connecticut law that outlawed married couples from using birth control.
By: Amy Jacobson, The Jamestown Sun
The U.S. Supreme Court opened a new era in civil rights 46 years ago last week. In its ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, the court struck down a Connecticut law that outlawed married couples from using birth control. What started as a case against one law in one small state would ensure that women can make personal decisions about if and when to have children — monumentally improving their health and the health of their families.
The anniversary of the Griswold case is a good moment to celebrate how far we’ve come. Today family planning is widely recognized by the medical community as integral to improving women’s health and the health of their children. For many women, access to birth control has made the difference between going to college or not, pursuing the career they wanted or not, or even having a healthy pregnancy or not. In fact, some 38 million women are using some contraceptive method at any given time.
Not surprisingly, communities are healthier than they were in 1965. Unfortunately, there’s still a very long way to go. For too many American women, millions in fact, birth control is beyond their reach. For the estimated 14 percent of women aged 15–44 in North Dakota who are uninsured, the out-of-pocket costs are prohibitive, and even for women who have health insurance, their prescription for birth control is often not a covered benefit. More than a third of women voters say they have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and have failed to use it consistently as a result. Studies show that when cost barriers are removed, women switch quickly to more effective methods, and experience fewer unintended pregnancies as a result — a critical outcome in a nation where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended.
Ultimately, removing cost barriers to birth control could mean as much today as removing legal barriers did a half-century ago. The Affordable Care Act holds enormous promise for expanding access to birth control. Under the new law, millions of women will become insured, and the health care — including birth control — they have gone without for so long will finally be attainable. In addition, the law offers an unprecedented opportunity to make birth control more affordable. The fact that some states, like North Dakota, are trying to stop the law in its tracks is a short-sighted political goal that would only hurt women and their families.
The Griswold anniversary is not only a time to celebrate but also an occasion to recommit ourselves to improving our nation’s health. As we mark the anniversary of the Griswold decision, let’s resolve to keep building on its legacy.
(Jacobson is the North Dakota public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota)