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Roe v Wade: 1973-2012

Sarah Weddington, the attorney who won Roe v. Wade, talks to KPBS about the landmark case.


Sarah Weddington, attorney, founder, The Weddington Center


Sarah Weddington, the attorney who won Roe v. Wade in 1973, said she never imagined 39 years later the country would still be debating access to contraception.

"I would never have thought 39, 40 years ago that that's where we'd be today," she told KPBS Television's "Evening Edition."

Weddington said in some ways she sees part of herself in Sarah Fluke, the law student called names by Rush Limbaugh for defending access to contraception.

"What they did to her was awful," Weddington said. "I think women everywhere saw this group of men sitting there, getting ready to testify to Congress about contraception. She should have been allowed to speak, she's a law school student, she's in her 20s or early 30s, so there was every reason to let her."

Weddington said she's glad Limbaugh's comments have caused him to lose sponsors and that he has "sort of apologized," and is glad Fluke has become a focus of attention.

"She's also a symbol of the fact that women should be involved in this conversation," Weddington said.

Weddington said 39 years ago winning Roe v. Wade was "absolutely important" to her because of the work she'd done with doctors to help women who had infections from illegal abortions. Weddington herself had an illegal abortion in Mexico and said no woman should have to go through that.

"When people say to me, what will happen if abortion becomes illegal, the clear answer is that women will have illegal abortion," Weddington told KPBS.

While Weddington said she does not think the current Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, she said it's important to her who the next president is because that person will likely appoint a new Supreme Court justice.

She added that we are still debating contraception today possibly because young people assume Americans will always have rights to abortion and contraception.

"For me, part of the reason that I'm traveling and speaking is to say to people younger than myself--and almost everybody is--we really need your help in terms of voting, in terms of being active participants in the civil discourse, to try to be sure that we say that is your decision, not the government's," she said.

Weddington also said she does not consider abortion to be a religious issue.

"What I'm trying to say is it's not your belief that should matter," she said. "It's that woman and her situation, her family, her ability to work with and support her family, that should be her decision. She knows it better than anybody."

Years after Roe v. Wade, the woman dubbed "Roe," Norma McCorvey, became a member of the pro-life movement. But Weddington said when McCorvey was in a situation where she was pregnant and didn't want to be, she wanted abortion to be legal.

"I think it's not up to her to say to somebody else what it should be," Weddington said. "She obviously has the right to make her own decision."

"The case was not for one person," Weddington added. "It was for all women who might become pregnant and want the option of abortion."

News Intern Agnes Radomski contributed to this segment

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