Roe lawyer speaks for women

by Melanie Evans

The nation needs more women in positions of power, the victorious lawyer of Roe v. Wade told a crowd of 40 students Wednesday at Coffman Union.
The hour-long lecture was part pep talk and part history lesson as Sarah Weddington used examples from her personal experience as lawyer and assistant to President Carter to encourage young women to step forward and assume leadership roles.
Weddington, who at 27 won the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortions, her first contested case, said today’s women must continue to build on past victories.
“We grew up with women being told women can’t, women don’t, women shouldn’t,” Weddington said. “This generation of women is totally different.”
Women’s issues have declined in popularity, said Becky Roe, College of Liberal Arts freshman. Roe said she attended the speech to learn more about the history of the women’s movement.
“How did she have the courage at such a young age?” asked Jill Johnson, a General College freshman who attended Wednesday’s hour-long lecture out of curiosity and respect for the lawyer.
Weddington, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, also served in the Texas House of Representatives and as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the years following the decision. Jan. 22 marked the 25th anniversary of the decision.
“We saw women in emergency rooms because of self-induced or illegal abortions,” Weddington said, “And we said, ‘There has to be a better way.'”
She told the crowd it was their turn to find a better way. She added that tomorrow’s battles will center around diminishing access to abortion services and that victories like Roe v. Wade are not written in stone.
Today’s Supreme Court is far more diverse, Weddington said, both in its demographics and in the members’ opinions. Changing faces on the court threaten the authority of Roe v. Wade.
“I have known every pro-choice leader for the past 25 years. I don’t know who the leaders are for the next 25 years,” Weddington said. “I’m getting tired. Others are getting tired.”