Sarah Weddington, Zeta Nu, University of Texas at San Antonio, is an attorney and spokesperson on public issues and leadership. She is best known for representing “Jane Row” in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
After graduating from the University of Texas Law School in 1967, Weddington found it difficult to find a job in a law firm. She joined a group of graduate students at UT-Austin who were researching ways to challenge anti-abortion statutes. It was in this role that Weddington and her co-counsel, Linda Coffee, filed a legal case on behalf of a woman known as “Jane Roe” in the Dallas district court. The district court agreed with Weddington and Coffee that the Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional, but the state appealed the decision, which brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. After arguing their case before the Supreme Court in 1971 and 1972, the court ultimately sided with Weddington and Coffee in a 7-2 decision, overturning the Texas abortion law and legalizing abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy. In 1992, Weddington detailed her experiences with the case and interviewed others involved in a book titled A Question of Choice.
In 1972, Weddington became the first woman elected from Austin to be a member of the Texas House of Representatives. She served three terms as a representative before becoming the first woman to serve as the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1977. She went on to serve as assistant to President Jimmy Carter from 1978-1981. After leaving the White House, Weddington became a lecturer at Texas Wesleyan University from 1981-1990. She is also the founder of the Weddington Center, which focuses on women in leadership and is currently a speaker and adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.