We are pleased to announce that Sarah Weddington will be the award recipient of the Governor Mark White Courage in Service award at the November 16, 2016 Wilco Dems Awards Dinner. Purchase your tickets today!
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After graduating, Weddington found it difficult to find a job with a law firm. She instead joined a group of graduate students at University of Texas-Austin that were researching ways to challenge various anti-abortion statutes.
Soon after, a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey visited a local attorney seeking an abortion. The attorney instead assisted McCorvey with handing over her child for adoption and after doing so, referred McCorvey to Weddington and Linda Coffee. In March 1970, Weddington and her co-counsel filed suit against Henry Wade, the Dallas district attorney and the person responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. McCorvey became the landmark plaintiff and was referred in the legal documents as "Jane Roe" to protect her identity.
Weddington first stated her case in front of a three-judge district court on May 1970 in Dallas. The district court agreed that the Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional, but the state appealed the decision, landing it before the United States Supreme Court.
Weddington appeared before the Supreme Court in 1971 and again in the fall of 1972. Her argument was based on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 14th amendments, as well as the Court's previous decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized the sale of contraceptives based on the right of privacy.
The Court’s decision was ultimately handed down in January 1973, overturning Texas’ abortion law by a 7-2 majority and legalizing abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy. At the age of 27, Weddington remains the youngest person to argue a successful Supreme Court case.
In 1992, Weddington compiled her experiences with the case and interviews with the people involved into a book titled A Question of Choice.
After arguing Roe v. Wade, Weddington was elected to three terms in the Texas House of Representatives.
Additionally, Weddington served in the United States Department of Agriculture in 1977, assistant to president Jimmy Carter from 1978 to 1981 and lecturer at Texas female University from 1981 to 1990. She is the founder of the Weddington Center.
Until 2012 she was a speaker and adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.