Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), was a landmark case in terms of both reproductive rights and the right to privacy.
A Connecticut law contained an outright prohibition on the use of contraceptives, even by married couples. The law further provided for penalties against anyone who provided information about contraceptives.
Griswold, the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and a doctor with the league were arrested and convicted under the law. Both appealed, arguing that the law violated their due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in striking down the Connecticut law, concluded that there was a right to privacy implied by the provisions of the Bill of Rights. The majority held that the penumbras and emanations of the constitutional protections of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments created a zone of privacy that extended to cover the intimate relations of married people.
Further, the majority held that the right to use contraception fell within that zone of privacy and should be free from government intrusion.
The decision was by no means unanimous, with three justices concurring and two dissenting. Despite this, however, the right to privacy articulated in Griswold set the stage for the Supreme Court’s most famous decisions on reproductive rights.
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