Roe v. Wade attorney to speak during Women's History Month

Sarah Weddington

In an event marking the 30th anniversary of the decision that legalized abortion in the United States, Sarah Weddington, the attorney who won Roe v. Wade, will give a talk titled Some Leaders are Born Women! at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 13, in the Benjamin Mays Center, 95 Russell Street. A reception and book-signing will follow the lecture, all of which the public is invited to attend free of charge.

A well-respected teacher, lawyer and legislator who has secured her place in history as an women’s advocate and defender, Weddington successfully argued the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. From her former position as a Texas state legislator, to her place as President Jimmy Carter’s special assistant on women’s issues, to the precedent she set as the youngest woman ever to try and win a case before the nation’s most powerful court, Weddington has exemplified a kind of successful female leadership that has transformed the landscape of American history.

Weddington has been a long-time advocate for women. In 1972, she was the first woman from Austin elected to the Texas House of Representatives. She served three terms before becoming the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s general counsel in 1977, the first woman to ever hold that position.

From 1978 to 1981, Weddington served as assistant to President Jimmy Carter, who appointed her to direct his administration’s work on women’s issues and leadership outreach. She also directed White House efforts to extend the time for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and to assist in the selection of women for federal judiciary appointments.

Weddington co-chaired the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference on Women, in Copenhagen, and implemented other programs to ensure the equal treatment of women in the military in securing business loans, and in social programs. As the first woman director of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations from 1983 to 1985, she was the state’s chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

Weddington published the best seller, A Question of Choice (Putnam, 1992), which details the Roe v. Wade case. She is a founding member of the Foundation for Women’s Resources, and has been integral in all its activities, including the Leadership Texas and Leadership America programs and the creation of The Women’s Museum, which opened in September 2000 in Dallas. An adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Austin, she teaches courses titled “Gender-Based Discrimination” and “Leadership in America.”

Weddington has received numerous honors and awards. Time Magazine named her one of the “Outstanding Young American Leaders” and she received the Ladies Home Journal Woman of the Future award. Esquire Magazine recognized her in 1984 as an “American Under 40 Making Things Happen.” In 2000, Texas Lawyer named her as “One of the Most Influential Lawyers of the 20th Century” and the Houston Chronicle named her as one of “The Tallest Texans: those who left their mark on Texas and the rest of the world in the 20th century.” In 1980, she received the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Margaret Sanger Award, its highest honor.

Weddington received her J.D. degree from The University of Texas School of Law in 1967 and is a graduate of McMurry University.

Sponsored by the Bates Democrats, Weddington’s talk is co-sponsored by the Muskie Lecture Series, the Department of History, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of the Dean of Faculty.

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