Eisenstadt v. Baird

405 U.S. 438, 92 S. Ct. 1029 (1972)

 

RULE:

If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.

FACTS:

Appellant was convicted of, among other things, giving vaginal foam to an unmarried woman at the close of a lecture, a violation of Mass. Gen. Law Ann. ch. 272, § 21. The district court dismissed appellant's petition for habeas corpus relief, but the circuit court vacated the district court's order, and remanded with instructions to grant the writ. Appellee sheriff sought review of an order of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacating the district court's order dismissing appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court affirmed the circuit court's order. 

 

Appellant had standing to assert the rights of unmarried people to access the contraception because he served as an advocate for this third-party right.  In so ruling, the Court emphasized that the reason for giving away the foam was to test the statute. Then, the Court held that the state statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV. The Court rejected appellee's argument that the distinction was health related, noting that unmarried persons had as great an interest in avoiding the spread of harmful diseases.

ISSUE:

Did appellee lack standing to assert the rights of unmarried persons denied access to contraceptives because he was neither an authorized distributor under the statute nor a single person unable to obtain contraceptives?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Appellant had standing to assert the rights of unmarried people to access the contraception because he served as an advocate for this third-party right. In so ruling, the Court emphasized that the reason for giving away the foam was to test the statute. Then, the Court held that the state statute violated the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV. There was no rational reason for the different treatment of married and unmarried people. The right of privacy to be free of unwanted intrusions into the fundamental decision of whether to have children was the same for married and unmarried alike. The Court rejected appellee's argument that the distinction was health related, noting that unmarried persons had as great an interest in avoiding the spread of harmful diseases.

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