Weddington, Sarah Ragle

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Sarah Ragle Weddington is a Texas lawyer, teacher, author, and public speaker who is best known as the lawyer who took the case on abortion rights, roe v. wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 (1973), to the U. S. Supreme Court and prevailed. Since Roe, Weddington has been a vigorous defender of the decision. During the administration of President jimmy carter, Weddington served in a series of key posts that involved women's rights.

Weddington was born on February 5, 1945 in Abilene, Texas. She earned a bachelor's

degree from McMurray College in 1965 and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1967. She was admitted to the Texas bar in 1967.

Following her admission to the bar, Weddington opened a law practice in Austin. Soon after, she was approached by a group of women who needed free legal research concerning their inability to secure legal abortions in Texas. Weddington began a class action lawsuit and named as her plaintiff "Jane Roe," a fictitious name for a woman who was pregnant and wished to terminate her pregnancy.

The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where, at age 27, Weddington presented her oral argument that a woman's right to choose was based on the constitutional right to privacy. In a controversial opinion written by harry a. blackmun, the Court agreed with Weddington, striking down state laws that made abortions illegal. Roe was a landmark case and made Weddington a national figure. The decision, however, also galvanized opposition to abortion, setting off a contentious national debate that continued into the 2000s.

Weddington served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1972 to 1977. She also continued to practice law in Texas until 1977, when she was appointed general counsel to the U.S. agriculture department in Washington, D.C. In 1979, President Carter made Weddington a special presidential assistant. In this post, she chaired an intergovernmental task force of 15 agencies and made economic issues and the equal rights amendment her priorities. In 1980, Weddington was a U.S. delegate to the second World Conference of Women in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Weddington continued to be an ardent defender of abortion rights in the 1990s, and often debated those who attempted to overturn Roe. In 1992, she published A Question of Choice, which articulated her position on abortion rights and other gender issues. Weddington also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin where she taught classes on Gender-Based Discrimination and Leadership in American. In addition, she continued to write and serve as a legal and political commentator. After a bout with breast cancer in 2001, Weddington resumed a vigorous round of activities, including teaching, lecturing, and writing.

"Life is an ongoing process. It is almost impossible to define a point at which life begins or perhaps even at which life ends."
—Sarah Ragle Weddington

further readings

Reaves, Jessica. 2003. Interview with Sarah Weddington on January 23, 2003. Time online edition. Available at <,8599,409103,00.html> (accessed July 28, 2003).

Weddington, Sarah Ragle. 2003. "Law: The Wind beneath My Wings: One Woman's Journey to Effectuate Change as an Attorney." Thomas M. Cooley Law Review 20 (January).

——. 2002. "Keynote Address: 30th Anniversary Symposium: Celebrating 30 Years of Women's Rights Law: Tribute to Women Lawyers and Activists." Women's Rights Law Reporter 23 (summer-fall).

——. 1992. A Question of Choice. New York: Putnam.