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 Blackmum 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, 2007) 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

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