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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Celebrating 40 Years of Legal Abortion with Sarah Weddington

Posted by on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Sarah Weddington
  • Sarah Weddington
As Jen and others have already noted, tonight Planned Parenthood is holding an event at Town Hall featuring Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who successfully argued Roe v. Wade in 1973, at the tender age of 26.

I'll be interviewing Weddington on stage tonight, but unfortunately, the event is already sold out.

However, last week Weddington and I had a brief phone chat, during which we discussed how to talk about abortion with conservative Christians, how full of shit Time magazine is, and more. Enjoy.

You argued the case for abortion successfully in the court of law, but in many states, religion and morality are their own, nearly insurmountable arguments. What is the most compelling case for abortion that people can make to religious conservatives?

There are some people who are so mired in their own religion, there’s no argument you can make. My focus has been on people who have somewhat of an open mind. For those people, the argument, the focus we should be stressing is what we know of life before Roe. If abortion were to be illegal again, the only thing we know for certain is that there would be illegal abortions. We’re talking about women ending up in real trouble—bleeding, hemorrhaging, infections, incomplete abortions. What we need to get across better is that abortion is a private decision that people need to decide for themselves, not the government and not Rush Limbaugh.

Time magazine recently asserted that since Roe's passage, we've been losing ground. What do make of that argument?

I think it made a striking cover and probably increased their sales. But no, I do not believe it. I think what has happened is that you have a larger group, as with the Tea Party, who are absolutely adamant that there be no right to privacy, no right to access abortions. And on the other side, you have supporters in their 50s and 60s who remember life before Roe and are adamant that those services be provided. And then there's the problem we’re finding with the new generations: They don’t know what it was like pre-Roe and so can’t imagine it being that way again. Our challenge is reaching out and getting them energized about this issue.

Did conservatives try to shame you you during Roe v. Wade? How did you combat that pressure?

Actually, no, because they didn’t think I could possibly win, partly because I was so young and partly because the law against abortion had been here in Texas for 100 years. So there were certainly a variety of people trying to ensure the Supreme Court didn’t vote in my favor, but most just didn’t think it was possible.

In the last 40 years—and granted, I've only been around for 30 of them—it does seem that the opposition has gotten more adept at using shame as one tool to keep women from accessing abortion services or even discussing abortions. Talking about a legal, although personal, medical procedure is seen as a brave political act. How do we counter that?

You know, I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll have to think about it. Among my friends, we all agree that there’s no shame in talking about abortion.

Abortion is also viewed as a women’s issue, even though women aren't out impregnating each other. How do we get men—other than, you know, Republican rape apologists—more engaged in the conversation?

If I look back at Roe, it was mostly women who were directly involved in working with me—doing research, mock courts, etc. I think today is reflective of the way it was. I bet there are organizations that are trying to do more, to have events for younger people, men and women, to reach those groups that currently don't view themselves as part of the discussion, pull them into the fold. There are places that have counseling for men when their women are considering abortion. There are pastors, most of them men. I wouldn't look at the past 40 years with such a negative lens. I'd say that it's only been 40 years now, and given that, real progress has been made.


Comments (8) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I am so delighted to hear that you are the one who will be interviewing. I bet you're going to do a wonderful job!
Posted by gloomy gus on January 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this

this lady is responsible for,
six times as many slaughtered humans as Hitler.

pretty. fucking. impressive....
Posted by she'll probably be Royalty in Hell on January 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
#2 No she's not. She's responsible for women having the "God given right" of free choice. All RRR members believe that God gave us all "free will". She hammered that home. Radical Religious Rightwingnuts want to take that God given right away.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM · Report this
@2: This woman is responsible for a lot of freedom. That clearly upsets you.
Posted by J.R. on January 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
im pretty sure that when roe was argued in like 1972, california had the most liberal abortion laws in america that were weirdly enough put in place by then gov ronald reagan in 1967. also, i think lewis powell actually came up with the trimester aspect of the roe decision, it was like one of the first things he did when he joined the court. i think that time article i sent you c might have been referring to some of the somewhat successful attempts to chip away at that stuff since 1973, but i never read the article i don't know i just saw it on google news and sent it to you. when that other thing gets done we can send her a link ya know. that would be badass.
Posted by tim koch on January 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM · Report this
its also weird that since 1973, congress always seems to pass stuff that always, without question, place more restrictions on womens reproductive rights, as opposed to the other way around. i would call that losing ground myself, sorry sarah. i love you though you kick ass.
Posted by tim koch on January 22, 2013 at 4:38 PM · Report this


Who was responsible for Adam Lanza having the "God given right" of free choice to slaughter those six year olds?

Are they a Slog Hero also?
Posted by you are so full of shit on January 22, 2013 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Christampa 8
@7 - God, no. Adam Lanza is a man. He doesn't have the right to slaughter children.

He also doesn't have the right to remove parasites from his womb. But that's not what you're concerned with, so I won't get into it.
Posted by Christampa on January 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM · Report this

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