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Roe v Wade: 1973-2012

Evening Edition

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

Aired 3/7/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


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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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 7, 2012 at 12:07 p.m. ― 5 years ago

Obviously an op ed piece.

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Avatar for user 'Jerry_L'

Jerry_L | March 7, 2012 at 12:39 p.m. ― 5 years ago

I caught the tail end of the interview. Thanks Maureen. It was refreshing to hear someone speaking some sense about these issues. I think you said Sarah was going to be speaking somewhere in the area soon, but I've been unable to discover where or when. Does anyone know?

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Avatar for user 'Jerry_L'

Jerry_L | March 7, 2012 at 12:56 p.m. ― 5 years ago

Never mind. I found it: Tonight, March 7, 6:30-8pm, at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center as part of its Teen & Parent seminar series. (According to SDMetro.)

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 7, 2012 at 6:02 p.m. ― 5 years ago

Missionaccomplished | *"Obviously an op ed piece."*

Mission, it was an interview.

An interview with someone very relevant and who has historical significance with regards to this issue.

"op ed" would mean the interviewing and writing journalists state their opinions, and none of them did.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 7, 2012 at 6:12 p.m. ― 5 years ago

Ms. Weddingington is, as Jerry_L wrote, truly a breath of fresh air.

It's so nice to finally hear an intelligent, articulate, reasonable person discuss this issue.

Compare that to the Neanderthal thugs on Capitol Hill who have hijacked this issue and are exploiting it politically ad nauseum.

Well, obviously there is no comparison.

Ms. Weddington, thanks so much for coming to SD to talk about this topic here.

Our local politics tend to be pretty draconian, as you know Mr. Issa who orchestrated the uber-sexist panel of men and refused to allow Ms. Fluke to testify is, unfortunately, from San Dieo County.

You are welcome here anytime, and thanks again reaching out to the public on this important issue.

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Avatar for user 'alguru'

alguru | March 8, 2012 at 9:35 a.m. ― 5 years ago

Sarah Weddington expression of outrage over Rush Limbaugh's comments is rather selective. If you have listened to the comments about Sarah Palin and her children you did not hear Sarah Weddington express similar outrage because she thought it OK for David Letterman to talk of molesting Palin's ten year old daughter. If I had heard similar outrage about the demeaning comments about United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice I would believe her genuine but that is not the case. Sarah Weddington's effort is to silence those that disagree with her. Politics replaces war as a means to settle differences. Sarah Weddington's lack sincerity does not help settle differences but makes them worse. Sarah Weddington's objective is to silence anyone that disagrees with her. She has no real concern about derogatory comments about women unless it helps her to silence those that disagree with her.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 8, 2012 at noon ― 5 years ago

"The Left mocks the Right; the Right ALWAYS thinks it Right." - Bono

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 8, 2012 at 3:01 p.m. ― 5 years ago

Alguru, implying Ms. Weddington is being "selective" because she is upset with Limbaugh and didn't mention Palin, Letterman, Rice, etc.mis absurd.

First off, we are in the midst of the Limbaugh controversy.

It's timely news.

The other examples you brought up are old, they were already microscoped by the media when they happened.

Second, the examples you gave don't deal with women's health issues.

I think you are really grasping.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | March 8, 2012 at 4:40 p.m. ― 5 years ago

The decision should be left to the woman, pure and simple. Sure the man responsible can have a say, but ultimately it's her choice because she's that will have the child if she chooses.

Now lets move on!

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