You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

letters

Birth control and privacy rights, incrementally won

RE “A woman’s right” (Op-ed, June 6): Massachusetts legal history regarding birth control importantly supplements Alexandra Marshall’s interesting description of the mid-1960s Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that married women had a constitutional right of access to birth control. Massachusetts continued to deny any such right to unmarried women, and upheld this denial on a 4-3 vote by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1969. I was the law clerk for the late Justice Arthur Whittemore, who wrote the dissent.

That same case reached the Supreme Court in Eisenstadt v. Baird, which on March 22, 1972, held that unmarried women also had the right of access to birth control, and in which Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote his famous words: “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision to bear or beget a child.”

Continue reading below

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, quoting those words.

John H. Henn

Cambridge

The writer, a retired partner at Foley Hoag LLP, has been pro-bono reproductive rights counsel to Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts since 1976.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.