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Think Progress: How Five Decades Of Legal Birth Control Have Changed Americans’ Lives

In 1961, Estelle Griswold opened a Planned Parenthood clinic in Connecticut with the explicit intention of getting arrested. Griswold was handing out prescriptions for birth control in the hopes of challenging a state law dating back to 1879 that criminalized the use of contraception.

It worked: Griswold was convicted for disseminating information about birth control to married couples. She appealed her case all the way up to the Supreme Court — which ultimately decided, exactly five decades ago, that state-level bans on birth control violate married couple’s right to privacy. (The Court has since expanded the right to use contraception to unmarried couples, too.)

For women’s health advocates, Griswold v. Connecticut represents a landmark case that helped establish lasting legal precedent about privacy and reproductive health. And the decision’s 50th anniversary on Sunday serves as a reminder of all the ways in which legal contraception has changed Americans’ lives.

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