It is a few days past the month of June but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn and celebrate Estelle Griswold! So…
Happy Birthday Estelle Griswold!
Born in 1900, Estelle Griswold did some pretty damn revolutionary things during lifetime. Griswold studied voice at the Hartt College of Music, going on to eventually study in Paris. It was not until moving to D.C. with her husband Richard that she began her studies in the medical field, becoming employed as a medical technologist.
Griswold worked for the United Nations Relief, leading her to travel the world and see first hand the effects that poverty has on populations. It was this traveling that moved her to learn about population control and access to contraception.
She decided to bring this knowledge and interest back to her home state of Connecticut. Upon her return she became Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood league. In Connecticut it was illegal to sell or use birth control. Yes you read that right. To sell or USE birth control. For obvious reasons Griswold found this appalling.
“Under the law, a woman in Connecticut—married or unmarried—could not legally go into a pharmacy and purchase any form of birth control, nor was she allowed to ask the pharmacist how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. With Griswold’s leadership, Planned Parenthood volunteers initiated “border runs” to transport women to birth control clinics in Rhode Island and New York, where such medical attention was legal” – Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame
Griswold decided to shake things up and challenge this craziness. In 1961 her and Dr. C. Lee Buxton opened a birth control clinic that dispensed contraceptives. After opening the clinic Griswold and Buxton were arrested and convicted. This led to the infamous case, Griswold v. Connecticut. The ruling of this case was that the state’s ban on the contraceptive use “violated the right to marital privacy”.
I found it very appropriate, with the new ruling by the Supreme Court concerning women’s health, to learn a little piece of how we got to where we are. It seems lately people have forgotten about cases like these.
Thank you for your bravery Estelle! I hope we will remember you in future decisions!