Skidmore student group to host talk by reproductive rights pioneer: Bill Baird to speak about his experience as the subject of a Supreme Court case

Posted by Julia Leef

Guest speaker Bill Baird, acclaimed "Father of the Abortion Rights Movement" by the Associated Press and the United Press International, will give a lecture titled "Who Owns Your Body: Church? State? You! The Fight for Birth Control and Abortion" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Gannett Auditorium. The College's Feminist Action Movement will sponsor the talk, which is free and open to the public.

A Brooklyn native, Baird graduated from Brooklyn College in 1955. He is the only non-lawyer with three U.S. Supreme Court victories. He has worked on the front lines of the reproductive rights movement for 50 years.

Baird will discuss the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case Eisenstadt v. Baird that established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception. Baird was charged with a felony for distributing contraceptive foams after lecturing at Boston University. Massachusetts law at that time mandated that only doctors or pharmacists could distribute contraception, and then only to married people.

The Supreme Court determined that the law Baird was accused of breaking violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, the same right to privacy that served as the foundation for the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, and the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, which is seen as a victory for gay rights.

In the five years it took to bring his case to the Supreme Court, Baird was sentenced to three months in prison in the later-condemned Charles Street Jail. There he said he chased rats from his cell, picked bugs and pebbles from his food, suffered an eye infection from lice and endured humiliating random strip searches by guards.

In the lecture, Baird will discuss what he calls the "bologna method" that has sliced away at the gains achieved from Eisenstadt v. Baird and Roe v. Wade in the current social and political climate.

He will also talk about the presidential aspirants and their anti-abortion and birth control views and what he feels is the future for abortion and birth control, especially if a Republican is elected president. There will be a question-and-answer session with the audience at the end of his lecture. 

Healthful Hints: Fact or Fiction: A look at drug and alcohol assumptions on campus

Communications sends out a new survey on redesigning the College website: Further revisions will be made to the designs based on the results of this survey