MAKERS Profile

Sarah Weddington

Attorney, Roe v. Wade

In this video

Sarah Weddington on being different, arguing before the Supreme Court at 26, and the surprising longevity of the battle over reproductive rights.
Sarah Weddington stepped into the national spotlight when she successfully argued the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, at the tender age of 26. The daughter of a Methodist minister, Weddington grew up in the small town of Abilene, Texas. She completed high school in only two years and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English from McMurry University in 1964. She then attended the University of Texas Law School, despite the admonition by the Dean of McMurry that, as a woman, it would be too challenging. Weddington was one of only five women entering her class of 120 students. After her Supreme Court victory, Weddington was elected to three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, where she passed critical legislation which focused on health, women’s rights, anti-discrimination, and early education. She left for Washington in 1977 to become the first female General Counsel of the United States Department of Agriculture and then served as an assistant to President Carter, directing the Carter Administration's work on women's issues and appointments. Throughout the 1980s, Weddington was a distinguished lecturer at Texas Women’s University, and later became an adjunct professor at the University of Texas-Austin. She founded the Weddington Center where she continues her work as a speaker and writer, focusing primarily on women in leadership.   Weddington has received numerous honors and awards over the course of her extraordinary career. Early in her career, Time magazine selected her as one of the "Outstanding Young American Leaders," and Planned Parenthood bestowed her its highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Woman of Valor Award. In 2000, Texas Lawyer Magazine named her as "One of the Most Influential Lawyers of the 20th Century," and in 1999, she was honored as a "Texas Woman of the Century" by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas.

More From Sarah

Principles of Success
Weddington outlines the principles she believes help one become a leader and advance professionally.

The Pre-Roe OB Ward
Weddington recalls what Texas hospitals were like before Roe v. Wade, filled with women critically injured by unsafe abortions.

The Need for Young Women & Men
Weddington on the off-putting feminist stereotypes of the 70s and the need to re-engage young people in pushing for change.

Righting Clear Wrongs
Weddington talks about the infuriating inequities that made her a feminist, like needing her husband or father to get a credit card.

Threats to Roe
Weddington lays out her primary concerns for the future of reproductive rights. 

Renown at 26
Weddington's best-known accomplishment came at only 26, but her contributions to women's equality and well-being hardly stopped there.

Roe v. Wade Precedents
Weddington describes the 1960s contraception cases that laid the groundwork for her Roe v. Wade argument.

Defying "Can't"
Weddington on defying the derision of a college dean and attending law school as one of few women in 1964.

Half-Court Ball
Seeing women play full-court basketball is a radical change from Weddington's own school days.

Leaving Your Thumbprint
Weddington traces her desire to make a difference for women back to her father's sermons.

Behind-the-Scenes Power
When Weddington was told that girls couldn't run for class president, she and a friend found a way to run the show anyway.