Attorney, Roe v. Wade
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.