In today’s Vagina News, what Verizon and vaginas have in common. Stay with me.
The basis for the past and present outrage over government surveillance of phone calls and other kinds of communication is that it violates our right to privacy. But the Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention any such right. So where did we get the idea that we have a right to privacy?
It started with education. In 2 cases in the 1920’s, the Supreme Court found that government could not interfere with parents’ decisions about how best to educate their children (Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923 was about forbidding the teaching of foreign languages, and Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925 was about requiring children to attend public rather than parochial schools.) The basis for both was a roundabout reference to free men being allowed to conduct their private lives as they choose, and an acknowledgment that “freedom” means more than not being physically locked up.
Ok, here come the vaginas.
1965, Griswold vs. Connecticut. Estelle Griswold, Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, was arrested and fined for helping a patient obtain contraception. On appeal, the Supreme Court found in favor of Griswold, expanding on the Meyer and Pierce rulings to find that the Constitution guarantees a fundamental “right to marital privacy,” so not only can free people educate their children as they please, they can choose whether or not to have children in the first place. If they’re married, that is.
It took until 1972 for the Court to expand the idea of a Constitutional “right to privacy” to mean the government could not deny contraception to anyone, regardless of marital status (Eisenstadt v. Baird.) The right to privacy was further expanded in the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
It has since been applied to the right of families to determine their own living arrangements (Moore v. East Cleveland, 1977) and to end life support services (Cruzan v. Missouri, 1990 – though this is still an issue for same-sex couples in most states.)
So if you’re so inclined, remind your friendly neighborhood privacy fanatic that supporting private phone records means also supporting unrestricted access to contraception and abortion.