40 Years On — An Interview with the Lawyer Who Won Roe vs. Wade

January 22, 2013 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, United States, News

Today, as you are likely aware, is the 40th anniversary of  Roe vs. Wade. Below is an interview of Sarah Weddington, the then 26 year old lawyer who successfully argued the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The interview was conducted by Time Magazine and was published on-line today. If you are interested in embedded audio links and other supplemental materials, you should click through the link.

Winning Roe v. Wade: Q&A with Sarah Weddington

See: http://nation.time.com/2013/01/22/winning-roe-v-wade-qa-with-sarah-weddington/

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, making abortion legal in all 50 states. Sarah Weddington, an attorney from Texas, was the lawyer who argued for legalized abortion before the high court. She was 26 years old at the time.

Years later, the plaintiff, Norma McCorvey (“Roe” in Roe v. Wade), became a pro-life activist. Weddington went on to serve three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, became the first female General Counsel of U.S. Department of Agriculture, and later worked as Assistant to President Jimmy Carter. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

TIME interviewed Weddington ten years ago about her experience with the case,  and recently caught up with her to discuss the ongoing abortion wars. Below are excerpts from the conversation and audio clips from her historic reargument on October 11, 1972.

Q: Ten years ago, we asked if you thought the Roe v Wade ruling will stand for another 30 more years. You said, “I despair when I look at who has the power today.” Do you still feel that way?

Having Obama as president means that if there are any vacancies on the Supreme Court, I think that Obama would be likely to appoint a judge who would favor Roe vs. Wade. What I worry about now and for the next ten years is, will women still have access to abortion?

State legislatures have begun to pass all kinds of restrictions that really make it harder for women to access services. If you look at who’s passing those regulations, they are not people who say, “We’re in favor of abortion being available and we just want to be sure they’re safe.” They are people who are totally opposed to abortion. What they really want is to try and do everything they can to be sure there are no abortions available.

Q: Legally, those state level laws can’t chip away at the constitutional right. But do you feel they can chip away at the national attitude?

I don’t think it’s so much the national attitude they’re chipping away at. I think the minority who want abortion to be illegal are having a disproportionate effect. That’s one of the reasons we’re trying so hard to increase the number of pro-choice people to vote. If you look at the last election, the number of women who were voting was much higher. And that was true for Latino women, black women, young women, women of all kinds. They turned out because they thought their personal interest was at stake. And I think it was one of the keys to the reason Romney did not win.

To read the full interview, please click here: http://nation.time.com/2013/01/22/winning-roe-v-wade-qa-with-sarah-weddington/

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