Chipping away at women's rights

Will the Supreme Court come for contraception next?

Birth control pills
A packet of contraceptive pills
(Image credit: Jena Ardell / Getty Images)

I'm a big fan of contraception. Thanks to the blessed availability of the pill, I got to have my child when I chose to. This doesn't make me unusual: At least 90 percent of American women use contraception at some point in their lives. But what about future American women? What about my teenage daughter? The three justices that former President Donald Trump nominated to the Supreme Court have already shredded one precedent that guaranteed women reproductive freedom, and there's a real chance they will tear up another. In their confirmation hearings, each of Trump's picks swore they would treat Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. Brett Kavanaugh insisted that Roe was "settled as precedent." So did Neil Gorsuch. Amy Coney Barrett said she would "follow the law of stare decisis." All three voted to overturn the decision anyway. 

The right to abortion and the right to contraception both spring from the constitutional right to privacy grounded in Griswold v. Connecticut, the case that established the right of married couples to access birth control. It, too, is supposed to be settled law. Yet some Republicans, including Justice Clarence  Thomas, are on the record calling for that decision to be reconsidered. Conservative activists have been sowing misinformation, falsely claiming that standard birth-control methods sometimes abort, not just prevent, pregnancies. Overturning Griswold would outrage most Americans, but this court doesn't seem to care what most Americans want — after all, polls taken the very month that it overturned Roe found that a decided majority of us favored keeping abortion legal. Now that Roe is gone, my daughter is growing up in a world where she has fewer rights than I had. Her male peers don't face the same situation, since nobody is gunning for condoms, the one form of birth control that requires buy-in from men. No, they are coming for the pill, the IUD, and the morning-after pill — the measures that women alone take to ward off unintended pregnancy. A war on women, indeed.

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Susan Caskie is The Week's international editor and was a member of the team that launched The Week's U.S. print edition. She has worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Transitions magazine, and UN Wire, and reads a bunch of languages.