Reproductive rights seem to be growing smaller. Month by month. State by state. The Birth Control Panel recently hit women’s reproductive rights in its most vulnerable target. Pending legislation and the personhood movement will more than likely continue to snip away at what young women have come to think of as their unassailable rights over their own bodies.
When I was a pregnant teenager in a small Catholic town in 1970, men were in charge of women. Then, little by little, the constraints of this kind of old-school thinking gave way. But when I read my morning newspaper I see that we now need to fight the same battles again.
Sex was a taboo subject in my small town. I don’t think I was familiar with the term reproductive rights. But millions of American women living in more open-minded places were already using the birth control pill by the time I started high school in 1966.
In the preceding year of 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut had made information about birth control, and birth control itself, legal for married women. However, for Catholic girls like me, the subject of birth control was just as forbidden as the subject of sex. Pope Paul’s the VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae outlawed all types of birth control other than the rhythm method. Our fathers, our doctors, legislators, and the Pope dictated what we could do with our bodies.
In 1973 when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, it seemed carved in stone. But we are traveling back to the past. And we’re going to have to do some heavy lifting.
photo credit: vintagesevensisters.tumblr.com