Bill Baird (b. 1932)
Reproductive rights pioneer Bill Baird, a 1955 graduate of Brooklyn College, served in the United States Army (1955-1957) and worked for Sandoz and Emko pharmaceutical companies (1957-1964). In 1963 he began distributing birth control foam in the New York area, and in 1964 established the Parents' Aid Society in Hempstead, New York. A "Plan Van" also distributed contraception in poorer neighborhoods. During the 1960s he was repeatedly arrested for distributing information about birth control and abortion. Convicted in 1967 for providing contraception to a female college student at Boston University, Baird's appeal culminated in the historic 1972 Supreme Court decision, Eisenstadt v. Baird, which established the right of unmarried persons to possess contraception. In 1978, with his clinic under constant threat, Baird wrote the nation's first clinic self-defense manual. The following year his Hempstead clinic was firebombed, with fifty people inside it. Two other Supreme Court cases, Baird v. Bellotti (1976) and Baird v. Bellotti (1979), gave minors the right to abortion without parental consent. With the escalation of anti-abortion violence at clinics nationwide, Baird worked with Father Frank Pavone, co-founder of Priests for Life, to create a document calling for an end to inflammatory rhetoric and violence; signed in 2002, it was distributed nationwide. Throughout his career, he has lectured widely and demonstrated for abortion and reproductive rights. As of 2015, he serves as co-director, with Joni Scott Baird of the Pro Choice League.