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Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)

In Brief

Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972): Court rules that law limiting contraceptives to married people is discriminatory and violates "right to privacy" of unmarried people

The Massachusetts legislature passed a law allowing the distribution of contraceptives only to married people with a doctor's prescription. William Baird was convicted under this law for giving vaginal contraceptive foam to an unmarried Boston University student at the end of his lecture on population control. He filed suit claiming his conviction was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling it was unconstitutional to treat married and unmarried people differently regarding contraception. The Court said the right to privacy belongs not to the married couple but to the individual person, and prevents government interference with "matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child."

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