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Senate Resolution 162--Expressing The Sense Of The Senate Concerning Griswold V. Connecticut

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, today marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down Connecticut laws that prohibited reproductive counseling and the use of contraception. In recognizing a constitutional right to privacy, this landmark decision secured the right of married women to use contraception and laid the groundwork for widespread access to birth control for all American women.

The availability and use of contraceptives has had a profound impact on the health and lives of women across the Nation. Widespread use of birth control has led to dramatic reductions in national rates of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and abortion. Contraceptive use has also significantly improved maternal and infant health outcomes, and reduced maternal and infant mortality rates. Since 1965 maternal and infant mortality rates have declined by more than two-thirds.

The impact of contraception on the professional lives of women has been equally profound. The ability of women to control fertility has allowed them to successfully achieve educational and career goals that would've been impossible a century ago. Women are critical to this nation's economic success, comprising up to one half of the total U.S. labor force.

In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognized the significant impact of birth control on American society and included family planning in their list of the ``Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.'' However, despite considerable progress in this area, much work remains. The United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among industrialized nations, which in part reflects lack of access to basic preventive health care, including contraception.

A growing number of women--almost 17 million currently--must rely on publicly supported contraceptive care. Between 2000 and 2002, this number increased by 400,000 alone, because of the rising number of uninsured women. Yet, even those women with health insurance are not guaranteed access to contraceptives because some health plans choose not to cover these medications and procedures as they would other basic preventive health measures. And we are increasingly hearing about pharmacists and other providers who refuse to prescribe or fill contraceptive prescriptions, or refer women to those who will, because of their own personal beliefs.

This 40th anniversary of the Griswold decision provides a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the critical importance and impact of this decision on the health and professional lives of millions of women. We must ensure that policy decisions about contraception services remain health decisions and not political ones, and work to ensure that all women have access to contraception when they need it.


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