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Sarah Ragle Weddington (born February 5, 1945), is an American attorney, law professor and former member of the Texas House of Representatives best known for representing "Jane Roe" (real name Norma McCorvey) in the landmark Roe v. Wade case before the United States Supreme Court.[1][2] In 1989, she was portrayed by Amy Madigan in the television film Roe vs. Wade.

Sarah Weddington
Sarah Weddington at March for Women's Lives 2004.JPG
Weddington in 2004
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 37-B district
In office
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byMary Jane Bode
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 37-2 district
In office
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byDistrict eliminated
Personal details
Sarah Ragle

(1945-02-05) February 5, 1945 (age 74)
Abilene, Texas
Spouse(s)Ron Weddington (m. 1968-1974)
OccupationLawyer, activist
Known forRoe v. Wade case

Background and educationEdit

Born Sarah Ragle in Abilene, Texas, Weddington is the daughter of Lena Catherine and The Rev. Herbert Doyle Ragle, a Methodist minister. As a child, she was drum major of her junior high band, president of the Methodist youth fellowship at her church, played the organ, sang in the church choir and rode horses.

Weddington graduated from high school two years early and then graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from McMurry University. She is a member of Sigma Kappa sorority. In 1964, she entered the University of Texas Law School.

In 1967, during her third year of law school, Weddington conceived with her lover Ron Weddington and travelled to Mexico for an illegal abortion. She received her J.D. that same year, graduating in the top quarter of her class.

From 1968 to 1974, she was married to Weddington.[3][4]

Weddington holds honorary doctorates from McMurry University, Hamilton College, Austin College, Southwestern University and Nova Southeastern University.

Roe v. WadeEdit

Sarah Weddington, September 18, 1978

After graduating, Weddington found it difficult to find a job with a law firm. She instead joined a group of graduate students at University of Texas-Austin that were researching ways to challenge various anti-abortion statutes.

Soon after, a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey visited a local attorney seeking an abortion. The attorney instead assisted McCorvey with handing over her child for adoption and after doing so, referred McCorvey to Weddington and Linda Coffee. In March 1970, Weddington and her co-counsel filed suit against Henry Wade, the Dallas district attorney and the person responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. McCorvey became the landmark plaintiff and was referred in the legal documents as "Jane Roe" to protect her identity.

Weddington first stated her case in front of a three-judge district court on May 1970 in Dallas. The district court agreed that the Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional, but the state appealed the decision, landing it before the United States Supreme Court.

Weddington appeared before the Supreme Court in 1971 and again in the fall of 1972. Her argument was based on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 14th amendments, as well as the Court's previous decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized the sale of contraceptives based on the right of privacy.

The Court's decision was ultimately handed down in January 1973, overturning Texas’ abortion law by a 7-2 majority and legalizing abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy.

In 1992, Weddington compiled her experiences with the case and interviews with the people involved into a book titled A Question of Choice.

Subsequent careerEdit

After arguing Roe v. Wade, Weddington was elected to three terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

Weddington attended the historic 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston as a Texas delegate speaking on the resolution of women's reproductive freedom.

Additionally, Weddington served in the United States Department of Agriculture in 1977, assistant to president Jimmy Carter from 1978 to 1981 and lecturer at Texas Woman's University from 1981 to 1990.[5] She is the founder of the Weddington Center.

Until 2012 she was a speaker and adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.[6]


As authorEdit

  • A Question of Choice, Smithmark Publishers, Incorporated, 1993, ISBN 9780831753344; Consortium Book Sales & Dist, 2013, ISBN 9781558618121
  • The United States Delegation to the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference for Women, Copenhagen (July 14–30, 1980)
  • The legal status of homemakers in Texas (1997)
  • Weddington, Sarah (March 31, 2003). "Getting the Right to Choose". Time.

As contributing authorEdit

  • Guide to women's resources. The Office of Sarah Weddington (1980)
  • Honoring a commitment to the people of America : the record of President Jimmy Carter on issues (1980)
  • Roe v. Wade: proceedings of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court (1970s)
  • Barbara Vackar papers (1972–1979)
  • Hermine Tobolowsky collection (1957–1983)
  • A documentary of progress during the administration of Jimmy Carter (1977 to 1981)
  • Texas women in politics (1977)


  1. ^ Gottheimer, Josh (2004-08-04). Ripples Of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches. Basic Civitas Books. pp. 362–. ISBN 9780465027538. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  2. ^ McBride, Dorothy E. (2008). Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 159–. ISBN 9781598840988. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Persistent Champion of Choice: Nineteen years after Roe v. Wade, attorney Sarah Weddington is speaking out about her role in the case and her own abortion.". LA Times. September 1992.
  4. ^ "The Weddington Way". The Washington Post. February 11, 1979.
  5. ^ "2016 Jamison Lecture". Texas Woman's University. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  6. ^ Reaves, Jessica (2003-01-16). "Interview: Sarah Weddington". TIME. Retrieved 2014-03-26.

Further readingEdit

  • A documentary of progress during the administration of Jimmy Carter, 1977 to 1981: Barbara Haugen, editor; from the Office of Sarah Weddington, Assistant to the President, The White House (1981)

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Obsolete district
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 37-2 (Austin)

Succeeded by
Obsolete district
Preceded by
Obsolete district
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 37-B (Austin)

Succeeded by
Mary Jane Bode