A Timeline Of Planned Parenthood's Remarkable Past

In the wake of the 2016 election, the fate of reproductive rights has become a serious concern for American women. Many are considering more long-lasting forms of birth control, and many have stepped up to donate to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that champion women's health and reproductive rights. But how much do you really know about the history of Planned Parenthood's contribution to reproductive rights?

In the last 100 or so years, reproductive rights in general has faced a share of both tremendous victories (in the form of passed legislation that supports a woman's right to choose) and crushing setbacks (laws introduced to limit the access of family planning facilities.) Now that we face a future with an administration against abortion (Mike Pence as governor of Indiana tried to shut down a Planned Parenthood clinic, while president-elect Donald Trump has said he would defund Planned Parenthood because of abortions), it's important to know the history of the large family planning provider.

It's also important to remember how far we've come in the fight to allow women autonomy over their own bodies, and to ponder what we can do now to continue its advancement. From Planned Parenthood's humble beginnings, to Roe v. Wade, to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, to other lesser-known battles reproductive rights advocates have overcome, here's a look at the milestones and accomplishments that have led us to where we are today.

1914: "Birth Control" Became Part Of Language

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Reproductive rights activist Margaret Sanger coined the term "birth control." At the time, they didn't have the medical advancements we enjoy today, but there were still some devices available for women looking to prevent pregnancy.

1916: The First Birth Control Clinic Opened

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

What is now known as Planned Parenthood began as a single birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, opened by Sanger. According to Planned Parenthood, nine days after Sanger and colleagues opened the clinic, they were arrested and charged with various crimes of sharing information on birth control. Sanger served 30 days in prison.

1921: American Birth Control League Founded

Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which eventually became what is known today as Planned Parenthood.

1936: Access To Contraceptives


In large part due to Sanger, the ruling in United States v. One Package allowed doctors to distribute contraceptives across state lines.

1951: Beginning Of The Pill

Sanger persuaded biologist Gregory Goodwin Pincus to begin research on hormones as a part of contraception, leading to the pill.

1952: Planned Parenthood Went International

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

This year, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) was established.

1978: Woman In Charge

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Not only was she the first black president of Planned Parenthood, but at age 34, Faye Wattleton also became the youngest when she earned the position in 1978.

1979: Sex Education Program

Planned Parenthood launched a sex education program to promote safe, responsible sex.

1989: Planned Parenthood Action Fund

The organization was formed as a non-partisan part of Planned Parenthood focused on education, advocacy, and legislative activity.

1994: Clergy Advisory Board


A little more than two decades ago, Planned Parenthood formed a Clergy Advisory Board, which brings together various faiths leaders to contribute to reproductive rights. Essentially, the board promotes sex education and family planning options that reduce the need for abortions.

2004: Marching For Reproductive Rights

Planned Parenthood joined other reproductive rights advocates in the One Million March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C. More than a million people from across the country showed up to march for women's rights on April 25.

The fight for women's reproductive rights only gets tougher as we go. But thanks in part to Planned Parenthood, there are people who will continue to advocate for women and push back against those who want to limit our choices.