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Sarah Weddington: Professor, University of Texas at Austin, TX

Sarah Weddington: Professor, University of Texas at Austin, TX

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Published by RogerCroft

Weddington was working for a professor at the University of Texas School of Law when she was approached by a group of women who were graduate students at the university.

Weddington was working for a professor at the University of Texas School of Law when she was approached by a group of women who were graduate students at the university.

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Published by: RogerCroft on Feb 05, 2013
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1. 800.973.1177
“Roe was an unmarried pregnant woman whofiled as a class action on behalf of all womenwho were or might become pregnant andwant the option of abortion. Wade was thedistrict attorney of Dallas, TX, and the personresponsible for enforcing the anti-abortionstatute,” Weddington explained.When asked to describe that historicday in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,Weddington—who had only handleduncontested divorces, wills, and one adoptionbefore she got the
Roe vs. Wade 
case—remembers every detail.The heavy, red velvet curtains you walkthrough to come into the courtroom. Thethree-minute tourist section. The gold railingthat separates lawyers from laymen. Thepress section. The goose quill pen. You nameit; Weddington remembers it. And the pictureshe paints is one of awe and grandeur.Weddington was working for a professorat the University of Texas School of Lawwhen she was approached by a group ofwomen who were graduate students at theuniversity. The graduate students also rana counseling service that advised women onhow and where to get birth control.“At the University of Texas in 969, a womancould not get birth control unless shecertified that she was within six weeks ofmarriage,” Weddington said. “So, there werea lot of women who needed and wanted birthcontrol who didn’t meet that criteria. Thesewomen [the graduate students] were tryingto tell them how to have access to preventpregnancy; and some women said, ‘I’malready pregnant. Where could I go for anabortion?’”The graduate students wanted to know if theycould give out advice on birth control withoutbeing arrested, and they came to Weddingtonwith their concerns. She took their questionsto the law library and found
Griswold vs.Connecticut 
, a case involving two peoplewho were part of Planned Parenthood andwere arrested, prosecuted, and convicted forgiving a contraceptive device to a marriedcouple. In this case, the Supreme Court ruledthat married couples had the right to privacyin regard to having children or not havingchildren.Weddington also found
Eisenstadt vs. Baird 
,a case in which Bill Baird was arrested forgiving a tube of contraceptive salt to anunmarried woman. In this case, the SupremeCourt ruled that every individual had a rightto privacy in regard to birth control.Armed with these two cases, Weddingtontold the graduate students she believed theycould challenge Texas’ anti-abortion statute,which allowed abortion only in situationswhere the woman’s life was jeopardized.Weddington then brought the case before athree-judge federal court and had the anti-abortion statue declared unconstitutional.However, the panel would not give heran injunction to keep Henry Wade fromprosecuting.“The next day, Henry Wade had a pressconference and announced he didn’t carewhat any federal court said, he wouldcontinue to prosecute,” she said. “I don’tthink he was trying to help us, but hedid; because there was a parliamentaryprocedural standard that said if a state lawwas declared unconstitutional by a federalcourt but it is continuing to be enforced,there is a direct appeal to the us supremecourt.”Weddington and the women she wasrepresenting feared that some other case onthe subject of abortion would make it to theSupreme Court before theirs; so they wereelated when they got the telegram saying thecourt was accepting
Roe vs. Wade 
.It wasn’t until early January 973 thatWeddington found out the verdict of thecase. She had just been elected to the TexasLegislature in November of 972 and was atthe state capital getting prepared to go intosession.“The phone rang, and a reporter said, ‘DoesMs. Weddington have a comment todayabout
Roe vs. Wade 
?’ And my assistant said,‘Should she?’ The reporter said, ‘It wasdecided today.’ And my assistant said, ‘Howwas it decided?’ And the words came back,‘She won it, 7 to 2,’” Weddington said.When asked how she handled such amomentous case at such a young age, (shewas only 26 at the time that she arguedthe case) Weddington responded withencouraging advice foryoung lawyers.“You
feel in awe of the court process,and you
doubt your abilities. That’s just
continued on back
Sarah Weddington: Professor, University of Texas a Austin, T
[By Charisse Dengler]
Everyone has heard of 
Roe vs. Wade 
; but who exactly was Roe, and who was Wade? Sarah Weddington knows. Infact, as the attorney who represented and won the case on behalf of Roe, Weddington probably knows more about thecase than anyone does.

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