Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It was forty years ago today

That married couples in America were allowed to have the right to plan their families rather than to be forced to have children randomly and repeatedly.

Probably, most of you who are reading this don't remember the event. It happened in a case that came before the Supreme Court called "Griswold v. Connecticut" and it changed America in profound ways (most of which have been forgotten it seems). I lived through the event and it was one of the things that helped shape my political thinking, so I though I would relate a little about what happened and why. Also, the powers that tried to keep families as slaves to reproduction are coming back today, so you may just want to know about this.

For something like a hundred years there were laws on the books at both the State and Federal level criminalizing giving information about birth control and transporting and dispensing contraceptives.

This did not change until two planned parenthood workers bit the bullet, and set up shop in Connecticut, one of the States with laws against dispensing knowledge of birth control or contraceptives. (This was around 1961 or 1962 if memory serves). They were arrested and convicted in Connecticut court. The appeals went to the Supreme Court of the United States.

What you have to understand is that during these times there was this idea, that has been pushed by the "conservative" Christian churches that people did not have any rights over their sexuality. The prevailing view was that sex should only be allowed between two people licensed by Christian churches and/or the State and only for purposes of procreation.

These "Christians" thought that Only God had a right to decide when a couple should have a baby and only God had a right to decide how many children a family should have. And remember, sex was only for procreation, any other reason was a sin.

These were the days that you found conversations like this.

"You wanted to see me Dr. Jones?"

"Yes Bill, I have some bad news for you. Your wife had some complications with her last birth. Having six children has taken a lot out of her, and she is all torn up inside. I hate to tell you this, but for her sake you are going to have to refrain from exercising you marital rights, if she gets pregnant again you will lose both her and the baby."

"Good Lord Doc! What am I going to do?"

"Bill, here is the address of a certain house on the other side of town, if you start getting "urges" go visit there."

You would be amazed just how many times variations of this scenario were played out before legal contraception was available.

We also had a lot of Things Like this happening on an all too regular basis.

The people of America also lived under an incredible weight of guilt and shame when it came to their sexuality, even when you were legally licensed to have sex with someone.

It was never just you and your spouse in the bedroom, it was you, your spouse, the Church, and the State.

Griswold v. Connecticut changed all that. It allowed families, for the first time to legally have access to family planning services and contraceptives so that they could choose when it was appropriate to have a child, and to choose how many children to have (or even to choose not to have children).

More importantly though, this ruling was the basis for "The right to privacy" that has come to be something that we all expect to have now.

Of course the Neo-Cons and the Christian Taliban would like to take this all away from us and force us back to the guilt ridden days of a family having no choice about when and how many children it should have.

On the anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut we should remember what we stand to lose if the Republicans are allowed to stay in power.


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