An official of the Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) last night removed from the candy counter at the Freshman Union the condoms that went on sale there last week. The HSA acted after it was informed of the illegality of the sale by birth control activist William R. Baird.
State law forbids sale of contraceptives except by drug stores, Baird said. "They (HSA) are running the risk of getting their tails in jail," he said.
Baird--who directs two national groups fighting overpopulation--is presently the defendant in a U.S. Supreme Court case which threatens to overturn a Massachusetts law prohibiting sale of contraceptives to the unwed. Baird has been jailed seven times for violating contraceptive laws.
The HSA official in charge of the Union concession--who wished to remain anonymous--said Baird convinced him by phone yesterday that it was in his "best discretion" to stop selling condoms.
The HSA official gave three reasons for his action:
* The present confusion in state birth control laws and their enforcement. "We don't think we would be prosecuted (for selling condoms), but we want to wait at least for a few weeks until the Supreme Court rules on Baird's case," he said.
* The danger of harrassment from pharmaceutical companies. "They might think we aren't a reliable outlet, and that we're storing the rubbers near hear, sticking holes in them, or otherwise damaging them before sale," the official said.
* The possibility of investigation. "I think State Attorney General (Robert H.) Quinn wants to be Governor, and might have started hassling us about condom sales just to grab headlines," he said.
Baird said that today he will try to introduce before the Massachusetts legislature a bill to legalize sale of non-prescription contraceptives--such as prophylactics--in any retail store.
If passed, the legislation wouldn't sanction sale of condom by HSA. "Winning my Supreme Court case will just mean that unmarried people can buy contraceptives in drug stores," Baird explained. "I want anybody to be able to get birth control devices at regular stores as well.