Bill Baird, Contraceptive Scandal

Update: As of October 21, 2013 there is video related to this post on our website.

Recently there has been much discussion about women's rights relating to birth control and abortion.  These discussions have been going on for decades and in the 1960s, William "Bill" Baird was a major player in these conversations.

Bill Baird is the founder of the Pro Choice League, and he established the nation's first abortion facility in 1964.  He also created the first birth control and abortion center on a college campus.  He was sent to jail for three months for teaching about birth control and distributing abortion literature in New York and New Jersey.  While working on cataloging the news records, I came across many that discuss Baird's time in jail, his selling of contraception and daring the police to arrest him, and the demonstrations supporting his cause.

On April 6, 1967, Baird gave a lecture at Boston University to more than 2,500 people about birth control and abortion.  Prior to the lecture, almost 700 students at BU reached out to Baird, asking him to come to Massachusetts to challenge a nineteenth center law that denied unmarried people access to birth control and abortion information.  At the end of the lecture, Baird handed an unmarried 19-year-old woman a free condom and a package of contraceptive foam, and Baird was then arrested by the Boston Police for this move.  He was charged with 2 felonies: publicly displaying birth control and abortion devices and giving away birth control to an unmarried woman.  He served three months at the Charles Street Jail (now the Liberty Hotel), and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court.

On March 22, 1972, the Supreme Court decided in Baird's favor, which led to the overturning of similar statues in 26 other states.  Associate Justice William O. Douglas wrote, "while the teachings of Bill Baird and Galileo are of a different order, the suppression of either is equally repugnant."  Almost a year later, the Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, quoting Baird's case six times in its legalization of abortion.  Baird continued to be an activist thorough the 70s and 80s, and still speaks about the cause today.


About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from

Baird, B. (n.d.). The people versus Bill Baird: struggling for your right to privacy. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from

Baird, J. (n.d.). Birth control turns thirty-five. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from

Eisenstadt v. Baird. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from

Eisenstadt v. Baird. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from