William Baird defied Massachusetts law last night by describing the uses and efficiency of various contraceptives to a predominantly male crowd in Lowell Lecture Hall. But this time, he was not arrested.
Last Thursday, Baird was arrested at Boston University after a meeting in which he distributed non-prescriptive contraceptives to three coeds. He was arraigned then only on charges of exhibiting and distributing devices to prevent pregnancy, not on a charge of furnishing information.
Last night, Baird distributed no contraceptives, but he was in effect inviting police to arrest him for furnishing birth control information. He could then challenge the law on the basis of freedom of speech. Only University Police were present at the meeting, and no arrests were made.
Baird faces up to 13 years in prison for violating laws classified as "crimes against chastity." He passed out copies of the laws at the meeting and then proceeded to criticize them point by point.
He laced his speech with stories of women who had become pregnant through ignorance of birth control methods and with such slogans as "those who take chances are called...parents." He continually stressed the moral aspects of his crusade to change birth control laws, asking "what right does the law have to step into your bedrooms and dictate morality to you?"
Hits Church, Massachusetts
He criticized the Catholic Church for trying to impose its morality on others and called Massachusetts "the most backward state in this nation as regards to birth control." He also rapped the press for what he claimed was a distorted coverage of his B.U. speech.
Baird repeatedly ridiculed incongruities created by the law. Massachusetts collects sales tax on prophylactics sold without prescriptions and on Time magazine, which provided birth control information in a recent issue, he said.
At the end of his speech, Baird explained the methods of using the diaphragm, cervical cap, pill, intra-uteral device, creams, jellies, foams, and male prophylactics. He said that many college students have false or incomplete ideas about birth control, and claimed that Harvard University students have come to him for advice about abortions.