Sarah Weddington once said, “I know my life has had an impact. No matter what else I do, my obituary is going to start, Roe v. Wade attorney.”
At a time when women had to get their husband’s or father’s signature to obtain credit, Weddington went against the odds by enrolling in law school and becoming an attorney. She was not just any attorney, but the attorney who argued on behalf of all American women in the Roe v. Wade case. Women who wanted to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to have an abortion.
As Weddington recalls, on the morning of oral arguments, she “felt an air of majesty as she ascended the marble steps to the packed courtroom and pressroom. I wanted to make a last stop before I went in –but there was no ladies room in the lawyer’s lounge.”
On January 22, 1973, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled (7-2) that the unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. In the majority opinion, the court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Weddington did not receive the decision as soon as it was handed down because she was then a member of the Texas State Legislature which was in session. The Roe v. Wade landmark case not only changed Weddington’s life, but the lives of millions of Americans. At the time, Sarah Weddington was 27 years old.