Radical Radiance: Dr. Sarah Weddington

sarah2Dr. Sarah Weddington came to speak at my college today, about her involvement in the landmark Supreme Court Case, Roe v. Wade, as well as her life before and after the case. Dr. Weddington is an amazingly charming and engrossing public speaker, she made the story of the Roe v. Wade case, a story I have already heard several times, seem just as interesting as it was the first time I read it in my history textbook.

Because of Dr. Weddington’s contributions to the Reproductive Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement, as well as the inspiration she continues to spread through her public speaking career, I have decided to make her this week’s Radical Radiance candidate.

Dr. Weddington began her college career planning to be an English Teacher, but changed her mind and instead went on to finish law school at the University of Texas in only twenty-seven months. After only a short amount of time as a practicing attorney, Weddington took on the case of Roe v. Wade pro-bono, hoping to increase the amount of similar cases being put before the US Supreme Court in order to push the court to choose one case and tackle the issue of abortion. Never did she expect her case to be chosen. Yet, it was and Dr. Weddington argued beautifully, eventually winning the right for women to have the option of a safe and legal abortion in the event of a pregnancy.

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Dr. Weddington is not just “the woman who fought Roe v. Wade.” She has also been a legislator, creating and supporting bills that have made positive changes on a variety of issues, from winning women the right to get credit cards, to strengthening anti-rape laws. As described in Texas Monthly,

“[Sarah Weddington] continues to be interested in feminist issues like the rape bill (which she handled effectively on the House floor), but is definitely not just a one-issue legislator. [She] carries a large and diverse legislative program – too large and diverse in the opinion of many liberals, who fault her for spreading herself too thin. […] Her feminist principles lead her into hopeless battles, such as an attempt to knock out a rider in the appropriations bill prohibiting the use of state money for abortions; surprisingly, these futile efforts have damaged neither her effectiveness nor her morale. Not afraid to work with conservatives-a trait that has helped her break down prejudices but has also cost her the trust of kamikaze liberals. Has probably overcome more obstacles to reach the Ten Best than any other legislator.”

Weddington also served as General Counsel for the US Department of Agriculture, under President Carter; the first woman ever to hold the position! She also worked as a  Special Assistant to President Carter, after just a year as General Counsel, and finally she was promoted to Assistant to the President, the highest White House Staff title.

sarahagSarah Weddington has made so much progress for the people of America, women especially; her supreme court win in particular was a major step in granting women true control over their own bodies, but as Dr Weddington reminded us during her speech: there are a lot of steps yet to go. Although abortions are now legal across the United States there are dozens of countries that have restrictive laws on the books that reducing funding for and availability of safe abortion clinics.

If you’re interested in more on Dr. Sarah Weddington you can visit her foundation here!

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