Thalia Cassuto Remembers When Birth Control Became Legal. She’s Fighting To Keep It That Way.


NEW YORK — Thalia Cassuto, 86, remembers when family planning was banned in some states.

She can still picture herself in 1955, 25 years old and walking up the stairs of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Queens to get her first diaphragm. Family planning was legal in New York at the time, but not in neighboring Connecticut.

” In those days, if you did it before you were married, you had to really disguise it ,” she said.

Cassuto, then a third-grade teacher, said she was ” still growing up” in her mid-twenties and wanted to take some time to focus on her career before becoming a mom.” I was out to be certain I was a professional and good at what I was doing before I was going to go home and have infants ,” she said.

Planned Parenthood Thalia Cassuto, 86, talks about birth control access with Rep. Louise Slaughter( D-N.Y .) on Wednesday, the 52 nd anniversary of Griswold v Connecticut.

A decade afterwards, in 1965, the State supreme court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that the state’s ban on contraception — a 19 th-century statute that proscribed any person from use” any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception” — infringed” the marital privacy rights .” In 1972, the high court was indicated that unmarried people likewise had the right to use birth control without” government intrusion .”

Cassuto , now a women’s rights activist in upstate New York, envisioned during the Obama administration that the fight to protect family planning access was over and won. But 52 times after the landmark Griswold decision, progress on the issue seems to be moving in reverse.

President Donald Trump and Republican in Congress are moving to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of family planning to low-income wives. And the Trump administration is now rolling back an Obama-era rule that required employers to cover contraception in their health insurance programs — a benefit that has guaranteed family planning access at no cost to 55 million girls.

The moves are” part of a large sweep of things that mean that boys in blue suits are telling us what to do with our torsoes ,” Cassuto told.” They’re not understanding the dignity of women .”

Cassuto traveled to Washington , D.C ., on Wednesday, the anniversary of the Griswold decision, to lobby her congressman the issue. She has also attended town halls in the district of Rep. John Faso( R-N.Y .) and even showed up at his local agency to denounce his vote against Planned Parenthood funding.

” I was taking my desire of country for granted in President Obama ,” she said.” I don’t take that for awarded anymore — I know I have to work for it. It’s like my country is sick, and I have to take care of it .”

People think there was a glorious past. There wasn’t. It wasn’t glorious at all. It was frightening. Thalia Cassuto

Nearly 9 in 10 sexually active females have utilized birth control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before President obama passed the Affordable Care Act, more than 20 percent of American women of childbearing age had to pay out of pocket for contraception. Now, only 4 percent of women are shouldering the cost. The statute, in addition to federal investments in family planning through organizations like Planned Parenthood, has contributed to an all-time low in unintended pregnancy and the lowest U.S. abortion rate since the procedure became legal in 1973.

Now that Republican are in charge, they are framing the questions as one of” taxpayer-funded abortion .” The longstanding Hyde Amendment prevents any federal dollars from paying for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. However, because some of Planned Parenthood’s clinics give abortion services, Trump and many GOP congressman believe the organization should not be eligible for funding that subsidizes contraception for low-income patients. Further, because some people belief( erroneously) that certain forms of birth control are akin to abortion, Trump has decided to allow employers and employees or insurer to refuse to include any of it in their health plans for moral reasons.

Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Service, said here move will” safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans .”