REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AFTER GRISWOLD: A FIFTY-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE
American Association for the History of Medicine
April 30, 2015, Ballroom, New Haven Omni Hotel, 5-7 p.m.
Barbara Sicherman is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emerita, Trinity College, where she taught History, American Studies, and Women’s Studies. Her publications include: Well-Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women (2010) Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters (1984), Notable American Women: The Modern Period (1980), and The Quest for Mental Health in America, 1880-1917 (1980). She is currently doing research on the illegal birth control clinics established in Connecticut in the 1930s, a follow up to “’Let’s Do It’: Women Making History in the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut History.(Spring 2012).
Introduction: I will set the stage by briefly summing up the Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives and Planned Parenthood’s efforts to overturn it, which culminated in the landmark Griswold decision.
- Rosemary A. Stevens is DeWitt Wallace Distinguished Scholar in Social Medicine and Public Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College, Department of Psychiatry, and the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor Emeritus in Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. For the last few years she has been studying the services negotiated for US veterans after World War I and their associated politics, a great set of stories. The resulting book manuscript, Scandal Time, is almost done.
This is a personal history for me, because I was the witness testifying against the physician, Dr. C. Lee Buxton, at the trial in New Haven. Estelle Griswold was the activist social worker who initiated the campaign to overturn the ban on contraception in Connecticut. Buxton wrote the prescriptions which when used broke the law. I will describe the contentious atmosphere at the time, how I came to be involved and what happened; with brief comments on the case as history.
- Professor Reva Siegel is Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Siegel’s writing draws on legal history to explore questions of law and inequality and to analyze how courts interact with representative government and popular movements in interpreting the Constitution. Her recent publications include Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics, 124 Yale L.J. (forthcoming 2015) (with Doug NeJaime); Harris Lecture: Abortion and the “Woman Question”: Forty Years of Debate, 89 Ind. L.J. 1365 (2014), as well as Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (with Paul Brest, Sanford Levinson, Jack M. Balkin & Akhil Reed Amar, 2014); Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Linda Greenhouse, 2012); and The Constitution in 2020 (edited with Jack M. Balkin, 2009). Professor Siegel is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an honorary fellow of the American Society for Legal History, and serves on the board of the American Constitution Society and on the General Council of the International Society of Public Law.
TALK: Reva proposes briefly to discuss the debates that engendered Griswold and the cases that followed in its wake; she will then consider how the culture wars of the 1980s shaped modern understandings of Griswold and its progeny, concluding with current conflicts over religious objections to contraception and over the right of same-sex couples to marry.
- Linda Greenhouse is Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. Prior to coming to Yale in 2009, she spent 30 years as the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. In that capacity, she received a Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards. She is the author of Becoming Justice Blackmun, a biography of the justice who wrote Roe v. Wade; The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction; and with Reva Siegel, Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling. She is a vice president of the American Philosophical Society; a member of the Council of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; a national board member of the American Constitution Society; and will shortly complete a six-year term as a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers.
TALK: Linda will talk more specifically about Roe v. Wade as Griswold’s progeny and to show how the one crucially informed the other at a time when the sex equality claim for a right to abortion was not a plausible option for a Supreme Court that had not yet established a jurisprudence of sexual equality
- Heather Munro Prescott is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University. She has written extensively on the history of birth control and reproductive health issues, and is the author of The Morning-After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011
TALK: Heather will look at the Griswold decision in light of her work on adolescent and young adult health. The Griswold decision only involved the right to marital privacy but said nothing about the rights of unmarried individuals. Nevertheless, many college students believed access to contraception was a right that was due to them and campaigned for reproductive health services. She will examine the partnership between students organizations and Planned Parenthood’s Program of Student Community Action that paved the way for unmarried minors’ access to contraception and abortion.
- JUDY TABAR is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE), which serves Connecticut and Rhode Island. Prior to a 2009 merger with Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, Judy was the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, serving in that role since January 1997. PPSNE is a two-state affiliate with a budget of $30 million, serving over 70,000 patients at 18 health centers.
Judy joined Planned Parenthood in 1980 as a physician assistant providing direct patient care. She then went on to become the Associate Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England prior to moving to Connecticut. Judy has served in numerous leadership roles within the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), including co-chair of the Leadership and Diversity Task Force, Affiliate Chief Executives Council (ACEC) Chair, ACEC Treasurer, and board member of the Affiliate Risk Management Services and Planned Protection Insurance Company. She currently serves on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America National Board and chairs the Business Innovations Committee.
During her tenure, the affiliate has received a number of awards. These include PPFA Excellence Awards in Clinical Services Expansion, Board Development, Special Efforts Serving Teens, and Clinical Training, as well as the Stand Up for Choice Award from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Eastern Region Pepe Award for Excellence in Serving Diverse Communities, and the Ruth Mott Rawlings Mott Award for International Excellence. In 2007, Judy was the recipient of the Ruth Green Award, in recognition of her leadership excellence as a CEO.
Judy holds degrees from the University of Iowa in science and psychology, and is a physician assistant.
TALK: Access to contraceptives during the 50 years since Griswold has made a dramatic impact on the lives of women, men and families across our country. Judy will speak about the link between reducing unintended pregnancies and a whole host of positive effects for women and men, from improved health outcomes for women and their babies to expanded educational and career options for women and their partners when they use contraceptives to delay childbearing until the time is right for them. She will also discuss the evolution of the contraceptive methods available to women over the years, and note some of the challenges that we are still struggling to overcome, such as recent public policy debates to limit contraceptive access and the persistent racial and ethnic health disparities that exist in relation to reproductive health outcomes.
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION