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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:20 AM

Singles' Right to Birth Control Turns 40! Happy Birthday, Eisenstadt v. Baird


Though slutgate seems to have come to somewhat of a conclusion -- Rush Limbaugh probably won't call a young woman a "slut" again until he calls a young woman a "slut" again -- it's helpful to remember what laid the groundwork for this most recent culture war battle: Eisenstadt v. Baird a little-discussed 1972 court ruling that OKd birth control for singles. (Hell yeah!)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Eisenstadt V. Baird on this very day 40 years ago. The case stems from the arrest of Bill Baird, who got a felony charge in Massachusetts for giving contraceptive foam to an un-married woman.

Baird, who had worked as a medical supply distributor, was said to have been particularly moved by the passing of a young woman at a hospital, who died from a piece of coathanger stuck in her cervix. Leading up to the case, he was jailed many times for his activism.

But what, exactly, did the Baird decision do?

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