“A singularly intricate situation has developed in Washington” / Some Historical Background on Hobby Lobby

Tropics of Meta

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If Progressive Era birth control reformer Mary Ware Dennett hadn’t been cremated in 1947 immediately following her death, she’d be rolling over in her grave today. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (or Burwell as the decision was handed down) has abruptly called forward again the long legal story of the fight for reproductive rights. Other landmark cases along this path have included Griswold v. Connecticut (1965); Roe v. Wade (1973); Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989); Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and somewhat more recently, Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). What’s Dennett got to do with all of this and why does it matter? We have to go back eighty-five years ago to examine Dennett’s activism and her legal case, to understand the political background for Hobby Lobby.

Mary Coffin Ware Dennett was Margaret Sanger’s greatest rival, but she is little known today…

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