1966 March 1

President Johnson Endorses Federal Aid for Family Planning


In a Special Message to Congress on Domestic Health and Education, President Lyndon Johnson called for federal support for family planning services. The first federal support for family planning occurred on November 2, 1965, as part of Johnson’s Great Society program, and the War on Poverty in particular. Federal support became institutionalized in 1970 with the Family Planning Services Act, which President Richard Nixon signed into law on December 26, 1970. In the late 1960s and 1960s, most Republican Party leaders supported both birth control and federal aid for family planning services. That changed in the late 1970s when social conservatives captured control of the GOP and advanced and anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and anti-feminist agenda.

The fight for the legal availability of birth control and family planning services was a long one. On October 16, 1916 Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in America. She was arrested a week later for violating New York state law, and eventually served a month in jail. A major breakthrough was the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut on June 7, 1965, which struck down a Connecticut law prohibiting birth control services and which established a constitutional right of privacy.

LBJ: “We have a growing concern to foster the integrity of the family, and the opportunity for each child. It is essential that all families have access to information and services that will allow freedom to choose the number and spacing of their children within the dictates of individual conscience.”

Read LBJ’s Speech: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=28111&st=&st1=

Learn more at a timeline on the history of birth control: http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?id=18&compID=53

Read: Linda Gordon, The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America, 3rd ed. (2007)

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