The Battle for Women's Reproductive Rights
Sexual intercourse has forever been a taboo topic in many societies. To this day there is a certain level of discomfort surrounding the human body and what people may or may not choose to do with their bodies. Before the 1970s women had little to no control over their bodies. Abortions were illegal and information about contraception and preventative measures was not discussed or widely distributed. Additionally, contraceptives such as birth control were not easily accessible to the youth or even to married couples. From 1872-1961 religious reformer Anthony Comstock successfully passed in Connecticut an anti-obscenity bill which included a ban on contraceptives. Comstock campaigned for the enactment of the bill as federal law and was instrumental in twenty-four states adopting their own versions of the Comstock Law. It was not until 1965 that contraceptive devices became more accessible due to the Supreme Court case of Griswold v.Connecticut and it was not until 1972 that all women were able to get prescriptions for the pill or other contraceptive devices, thus controlling their own bodies and their own pregnancy prevention. Despite having more control through availability of contraceptives it was not until 1973 with the passing of Roe v. Wade that women were able to have legal abortions.
Women at Mount Holyoke College were acutely aware of such issues surrounding women’s reproductive health and many were active advocates. Women’s reproductive rights became an area of focus among many women who sought an end to sexual violence, the right to an abortion, and continuing access to contraceptives. To this day women’s reproductive rights arecontinuously threatened due to strong social stigma as well as social pressures and a lack of access to health care for all.
By Mae Humphreville '19