PORTLAND – The woman who argued and won the historic Roe v. Wade case before the U.S. Supreme Court spoke in Portland Tuesday, on the 40th anniversary of the ruling that legalized abortion in 1973.
Sarah Weddington is in her mid-60s now, but was just 26 years old when she went before the United States Supreme Court to argue that it should be a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
She told a pack house of Planned Parenthood supporters that she had never argued a contested case prior to Roe v. Wade, but knew her effort at the Supreme Court mattered.
“I was very mindful that whatever the Supreme Court decided would affect the entire county for years to come, and so I was determined to do my very best to win,” said Weddington.
Weddington is from Texas, but was in Portland to speak before nearly 1000 supporters of Planned Parenthood, at a luncheon commemorating the abortion ruling. Weddington said she believes Roe v. Wade will stand, and a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows public opinion in support of keeping the law is at 70-percent, the highest since the poll was first conducted in 1989.
“And sometimes it’s the older women like me that remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade. And if you looked at the audience today, a lot of them were my age, and they remember and they are not going to let that freedom to make their own decisions be taken away,” said Weddington.
But Liberty Pike sees it differently. The 25-year-old woman is a speaker for Oregon Right to Life, and is 20 weeks pregnant with her first child.
"I think that (abortion debate) is really last century, and the more information that we have about the unborn baby in the womb, the more I think abortion should be outlawed,” said Pike, who points to recent Gallup poll data showing an increase in younger people supporting restricting abortion rights.
“More and more young people with more and more information are considering themselves pro-life or opposed to abortion on demand,” said Pike.
Whatever your perspective on the abortion debate, for 40 year Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land. Weddington hopes it stays that way.
“What we know from the past is, if you make abortion illegal, what’s gonna happen is illegal abortion, and that’s what I would hate to see again.”
Weddington lives in Texas, where she recently retired as a University Professor. Prior to that she was one of the first women elected to the Texas Legislature, and served in the Carter Administration as the chief counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.