In the 1962 case Planned Parenthood Committee of Phoenix v. Maricopa County, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Arizona Revised Statute 13-213, which banned the public advertising of contraceptive or abortion medication or services, was constitutional. However, the court also ruled that that Arizona Revised Statute 13-213 did not apply to Planned Parenthood's distribution of contraceptive information, allowing Planned Parenthood to continue distributing the information. Following the case, the Arizona law was challenged several times and eventually deemed unconstitutional in the 1973 case State v. New Times INC. The case Planned Parenthood Committee of Phoenix v. Maricopa County established that Planned Parenthood's distribution of medical literature was not advertising as described in the law, and it initiated a decade long discussion about the constitutionality of the laws preventing the distribution of materials related to contraception or abortion.
Mary Coffin Ware Dennett advocated for social reform in the United States in the early twentieth century, particularly regarding sex education and women's rights to access contraception. Dennett authored several publications on sex education and birth control laws. She also worked to repeal the Comstock Act, a federal law that made it illegal to distribute obscene materials through the US Postal Services. During the early 1900s, Dennett distributed a pamphlet she wrote on sex education called, The Sex Side of Life, through the post, which triggered a series of legal challenges that contributed to the dismantling of the Comstock Act. Dennett was an advocate for sex education and contraceptives, and her actions helped increase women's access to information about reproductive health.
In the 1930 US federal court case United States v. Dennett, Mary Coffin Ware Dennett was cleared of all charges of violating the anti-obscenity Comstock Act, a charge she had incurred by distributing her sex education pamphlet called The Sex Side of Life: An Explanation for Young People. The United States Postal Service charged Dennett under the Comstock Act, which prohibited the distribution of sex-related materials through the mail. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, New York, ruled that material needed to be considered in context and could not be considered obscene if it was not intended to sexually arouse an individual. The court's ruling in the appeals case of United States v. Dennett questioned the merits of the Hicklin test, used by courts to determine whether an item had an obscene component or intent, and contributed to the dissolution of the Comstock Act, thus legalizing access to materials about contraception and reproductive health.
In the 1973 case State v. New Times, INC, the Arizona Court of Appeals in Phoenix, Arizona, ruled that Arizona Revised Statutes 13-211, 13-212, and 13-213, collectively called the Arizona abortion statutes, were unconstitutional. The statues made it illegal for anyone to receive, provide, or advertise abortion services. The Arizona Court of Appeals reviewed a case in which a city court in Tempe, Arizona, convicted the New Times, a newspaper headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, of advertising abortion. In hearing the case, the Arizona Court of Appeals deferred to the recently decided US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (1973). In Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court ruled that women have constitutional rights to abortion services within the first trimester of pregnancy. Accordingly, the Arizona Court of Appeals claimed that all of Arizona's abortion statutes, including the one the New Times was convicted of, prohibited no criminal acts, and set aside New Times's conviction.
Margaret Higgins Sanger advocated for birth control in the United States and Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although people used contraceptives prior to the twentieth century, in the US the 1873 Comstock Act made the distribution of information relating to the use of contraceptives illegal, and similar state-level Comstock laws also classified discussion and dissemination of contraceptives as illegal. Sanger helped to repeal the Comstock Act and similar laws so that women could legally use contraceptives to control their fertility and the sizes of their families. In 1916, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the US in New York City, New York. Later in life, Sanger formed several advocacy organizations that promoted access to contraception, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Sanger's advocacy increased women's access to contraception and helped change the United States' social and legal perceptions of birth control.