Today is June 7th. Today is the 43rd anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut. Griswold v. Connecticut was a landmark ruling where the Supreme Court declared that contraceptive was legal.
I am a twenty-two year old woman. I have just graduated from Missouri State University with my undergraduate degree in psychology. I have been accepted into an experimental psychology doctoral program at the University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, starting this August. They have even offered me a fellowship to help support me while I am there.
I am able to focus on the subject I love, without struggling to make ends meet. My offer to purchase a house in Fayetteville was just accepted, and in a month I will have my own home. I have a strong group of friends, peers who are as passionate about the world as I am, and I am dating a man who offers me only support and respect.
I know (in general) what I want to do with my life. I feel confident that I am prepared to make the best decisions for myself and my wellbeing.
Five years ago, this was not the case.
I was a senior in high school, unsure if I should continue on through college. I was working forty hours a week at a local diner, pulling third shifts to make money, and then immediately sinking the money into my beater car just to get to work the next day.
I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I had no idea where I was going. I spent my senior year experimenting with LSD, mescaline, psilocybine, and other mind altering substances, and drinking a decent amount of vodka. Although I was never completely enamored with the drug culture, many of my friends were becoming heavy users of a variety of substances. At the very least, most of my friends drank a six-pack a night after work, or before work for that matter.
The man I was dating was a guy I had worked with at a previous job, a big guy with a bit of a drinking problem and a manic depressive swing to his emotions. We weren't in love, and we never set any pretenses otherwise. We were just dating. My friends, although many of them were good people, were the kind who you went in halvsies for a half gallon of vodka, or a ten-hit of acid. They were not the kind of kids who brought intellectual debate to the table, or who pushed you to become a better person.
Five years ago I became sexually active. I was emotionally ready for sex. I was physically ready sex.
I was not, however, emotionally or physically ready for the possibility of a child.
My senior year of high school I drove my beater car across town, and sat anxiously in the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood clinic. They gave me a package of pills, with explicit instructions on usage.
When Planned Parenthood gave me that first pack of pills, they gave me the tools to control my body and my future. When my high school GPA led to a scholarship at Missouri State University, my family offered the financial support I needed to focus on school.
My freshman and sophomore years of college I lived with a sweet stoner guy. Surely, had I not been on the pill, I would have ended up pregnant. Instead of worrying about pregnancy, I was able to focus on school. My first semester of college I took Introduction to Psychology. I fell in love with the subject immediately, reading the book at the kitchen table for hours and sitting in the library reading The American Journal of Psychology and The Industrial Psychology Journal.
My junior year, as I made the decision to become involved in research and pursue admission to graduate school, contraceptives gave me the opportunity to enter into a sexual relationship with a longterm friend whose presence in my life gave me support and direction. Neither of us was ready for a child, and by having access to contraceptives we were able to help each other grow without become trapped in a permanent relationship.
Now, five years after I first got onto the pill, I am on the pill again. Once again it has given me control over my body and my future. Now, I know where I am going. I know what my passions are, and I know how to pursue them. Surely, if I had not had access to birth control, I would have become pregnant over the last five years. I would most likely have a child, and be completely through with my academic career.
If I had become pregnant at 17, I would have been trapped in that world forever. Now, when I choose to have children, I will be able to bring them into an environment I am proud of. I will be able to raise them with the love and support that every child deserves.
I am so grateful to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and all the other activists who have pushed to legalize contraception and reproductive freedom. They have literally changed my life. They have given me the right, as a woman and as a citizen, to learn and work and grow at my own pace. They have given me the ability to stand where I am today.
Happy birthday, Griswold v. Connecticut.
Happy birthday, and thank you.