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Contraception and the 14th Amendment
"It is absurd to expect to be enlightened by reason, and at the same time to prescribe to her what side of the question she must adopt."
Immanuel Kant

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Poe

v.

Ullman
Contraception and the Fourteenth Amendment

Justice Douglas Dissent
June 19, 1961
Seal Of The Supreme Court
Excerpt:

Plaintiffs in no. 60 are two sets of husband and wife. One wife is pathetically ill, having delivered a stillborn fetus. If she becomes pregnant again, her life will be gravely jeopardized. This couple have been unable to get medical advice concerning the "best and safest" means to avoid pregnancy from their physician, plaintiff in no. 61, because if he gave it he would commit a crime. The use of contraceptive devices would also constitute a crime. And it is alleged — and admitted by the state — that the state's attorney intends to enforce the law by prosecuting offenses under the laws.

A public clinic dispensing birth-control information has indeed been closed by the state. Doctors and a nurse working in that clinic were arrested by the police and charged with advising married women on the use of contraceptives.

... We should say with Kant that "It is absurd to expect to be enlightened by reason, and at the same time to prescribe to her what side of the question she must adopt." (4) Leveling the discourse of medical men to the morality of a particular community is a deadening influence. Mill spoke of the pressures of intolerant groups that produce "either mere conformers to commonplace, or time-servers for truth." (5) We witness in this case a sealing of the lips of a doctor because he desires to observe the law, obnoxious as the law may be.

Footnote 4:THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

Footnote 5: ON LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION


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