It was the Gisswold v. Connecticut case in 1965 that struck down state laws prohibiting married couples from using birth control; the law was ruled unconstitutional because it violated marital privacy, a right protected by the Constitution.

In 1967, the Eisenstadt v. Baird decision made it possible for unmarried women to obtain birth control because the right of privacy inheres in the individual, not in the marital relationship. And now to 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court decides in Roe v. Wade that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman's decision, in consultation with her physician, to have an abortion. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in the ruling stating that the court had reaffirmed that there is a right of personal privacy implicit in the Constitution, founded in the 14th Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action. This right of personal privacy includes a woman's decision to have an abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy. But after the point of viability, he continued, when the fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving independently, the state may regulate or even prohibit abortion, except where it is necessary to save the life or health of the mother. These landmark cases have given millions of women fundamental freedom. Reproductive freedom encompasses the right to freely and responsibly determine when it's right for women to begin a family and control the number and spacing of our children. It means that we can pursue our hopes and dreams and realize a future full of possibilities.

P.S. The photo appearing in a Right to Life ad (Quad-City Times, January 22) showed a fetus at 16 weeks, which happens to be four weeks past the legal stage for termination.


Carol Brown

QC National Organization for Women

PACG Women's Issues Forum


The Ignorance of the Common Man


The real problem here is the ignorance of the common man. (See "Cleaning Up Elections," River Cities' Reader Issue 618, January 31-February 6, 2007.) Should those who want to have a voice in the political system via their donations be stymied because Joe Q. Public is too lazy to pick up a newspaper, or do some research before heading to the polls? Financial participation in the political process borders on a First Amendment right. If a majority of "money" candidates get elected because Joe Q. Public evaluates his candidates by what he sees on TV between rounds of Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune, so be it. Americans get the government they deserve based on the level of involvement they are willing to put into the process. Don't punish the rest of us who do get involved because of those too lazy to do anything but complain about the outcome.


C. Michaels

(Via the River Cities' Reader Web site.)


End Pay-to-Play Politics


People with money to spare for political contributions are not the only ones who care about public policy and the issues of the day, and voters shouldn't get more or less recognition or influence based on how much they can afford to pump into the process. By financing political campaigns with nonpartisan public funds, we ensure that all candidates who qualify and agree to forgo private donations will get to make their case to the electorate and, if elected, will be free to represent all their constituents, not just the ones who gave the most money. It's time to end pay-to-play politics and return to democracy. (For more information, see or


Craig Dunkerley

(Via the River Cities' Reader Web site.)

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