The History Behind Ted Cruz’s ‘Condom Police’ Joke

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tags: election 2016, Ted Cruz



Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may have amused his supporters Monday when he joked about the “condom police” during a presidential campaign stop in Iowa — but bans involving birth control were no laughing matter in the past.

It was illegal to spread information about contraceptives in the U.S. for about a century under the Comstock Act, which also banned sending contraceptives in the mail. Doctors couldn’t even discuss the controversial topic with patients after an American Postal Inspector named Anthony Comstock led his successful crusade against obscenity, which Congress passed in 1873, TIME explained in 1923.

The law read in part, “Every obscene, lewd or lascivious book, pamphlet . . . or other publication of an indecent character, and every article . . . designed, adapted, or intended for preventing conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral use . . . is hereby declared to be non-mailable matter.”




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