Legal Wrap: The Anti-Contraception Movement’s Long History

Legal Wrap is a weekly round-up of key legal and reproductive justice news.

It may seem like the battle over contraception access is a new thing, but it’s not. March 22 marks the 41st anniversary of Eisenstadt v. Baird, a Supreme Court decision that established that individual privacy rights include the right of single persons to possess contraception. As Bridgette Dunlap explained in a recent piece for RH Reality Check, as recently as 1972 a person could be jailed for giving contraception to an unmarried person. As we’re witnessing today with the current assaults on contraception access, there are many individuals in this country fighting to undo the legacy of Baird.

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) submitted amicus briefs in two cases that challenge the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage benefit: Autocam v. Sebelius in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the heart of both cases is whether for-profit companies must comply with the benefit, which ensures that employees have access to insurance coverage for birth control without out-of-pocket costs.

In Michigan, another for-profit business has challenged the contraception mandate. Last week, organic and natural foods company Eden Foods and its chairman, president, and sole shareholder Michael Potter filed Eden Foods, Inc. v. Sebelius. Like many of the other for-profit companies challenging the contraception benefit, Eden Foods is represented by conservative activist group the Thomas More Law Center.

The battle to renew the Violence Against Women Act did not include a focus on making emergency contraception (EC) widely available to rape survivors. Sadly, it appears that oversight was the result of women’s rights advocates failing to make EC availability a priority.

Imani Gandi asks the important question of whether the National Mortgage Settlement is failing women and communities color in this must read.

In Kentucky, child-care agencies that contract with the state will now have to ensure that children are not pressured into participating in religious worship or instruction, thanks to a settlement in a case that accused the state agency of looking the other way as private companies discriminated against students on the basis of religion.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a federal court permanently blocked a state law that was designed to defund Planned Parenthood. The law cut off grants to the health-care provider for HIV-prevention work because some clinics also provide abortion care.

Silicon Valley may seem like a universe away from Steubenville, Ohio, but as Natasha Chart shows, rape culture really is everywhere.

Speaking of Steubenville, I offered some thoughts on how the history of the juvenile justice system worked to produce a guilty verdict in the trial while also doing little to address the victim-blaming and -shaming that encompassed the legal defense in the case.

This week the Supreme Court will hears arguments in two landmark cases that consider the issue of marriage equality and to what extent states or the federal government can discriminate and favor opposite-sex marriage over same-sex marriage. RH Reality Check writers will be covering the arguments and have previewed some of the issues here, but in the meantime, check out this interesting read in The Economist on the similarities between the legal battle for marriage equality and the fight for abortion rights.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy

  • Liza K

    Dangit, Eden Foods. And I liked your tomatoes, too.

    • HeilMary1

      Or customers and employees could stage “baby-killing” tea and coffee chug-ins by chugging Eden-brand teas and coffee to highlight the hypocrisy of Michael Potter.

      Michael Potter

    • liberaldem

      Eden-it has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Who knew it was a fig leaf for another reactionary blowhard seeking to foist his beliefs on his employees and clients?

  • Alfonso Taboada Portal

    The solution is easy: single payer health. U.S. is the country in the world that spends more on health, no less than 16% of their GDP on health care. No other country spends as much on healthcare as the U.S.. In comparison, France spends 11%, UK 8.4% and Spain 8.5% (this figure includes public spending and private spending). And, despite this enormous expenditure, 47 million have no health coverage (this figure is probably even more by not including the large number of people in this country that are not surveyed), killing 45,000 people a year as a result of not receiving health care as a result of not having health insurance and unable to afford medical care they need. But according to Professor Navarro is based on the calculations of Professor David Himmelstein, Harvard University, has estimated that the number of deaths due to lack of health insurance amounts to more than 100,000 a year.
    A system run primarily by such insurance companies, like the U.S., is grossly inefficient. Its administrative costs are enormous: 31% of all U.S. health spending is administrative costs (400,000 million dollars a year), including the very high wages and salaries to executives of such companies, and costs for supervision, inspection, marketing and others. But well enough, this system managed by insurance companies is very unpopular. The U.S. is the OECD country that has a higher percentage of the population is dissatisfied with the system of financing the health system. And 62% would like to have a publicly funded national health system, covering the entire population. This proposal, which would mean the extension of Medicare (the federal funding program that covers the elderly, which is extremely popular) to the entire population is called single payer (single payer) or Medicare for all. In this system, the federal government would pay most bills and negotiate directly with providers (doctors and hospitals) the price of services. But Obamacare has been very warm, no single payer, single Obligations of the city has an insurance … I think Obama is as capitalistic as the tea party.
    All data I have taken Vicenc Navarro, an expert on the American health system.