45 years later

Lawyer who won Roe v. Wade case explains the differences between present-day Republicans and 1970s Republicans

Sarah Weddington, an attorney who argued the winning side of the landmark case Roe v. Wade, stands before the United States Supreme Court with a signed copy of the decision in front of the U.S. Supreme Court 27 June, 2005. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Forty-five years ago on Monday, the United States Supreme Court reached a landmark decision in the Roe v. Wade case, a ruling that cleared the way for the legalization of abortion. The lawyer who argued for “Jane Roe,” later revealed as Norma McCorvey, in the case was Sarah Weddington. She was 26 at the time and the huge victory was just one of several in what turned out to be an illustrious legal career. In an interview with TIME magazine, Weddington reflected on the landmark case and said she is “amazed” that Americans are still fighting about whether abortion should be legal. “When I started the case, the research in 1969, if anybody had said, ‘You will still be talking about this in 45 years,’ I would not have believed that,” she told TIME’s Olivia B. Waxman.

Weddington also discussed a major difference in Republican thinking on the contentious issue. She pointed out how President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney Jeff Sessions, to name a few, are staunchly anti-abortion. Trump became the first sitting president in 45 years to address the crowd at the annual March for Life rally in Washington on Friday, and told rally goers, “Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.” He also touted his administration’s efforts to protect medical providers who refuse to provide abortion procedures. Weddington contrasted the Republicans of today with the leading Republicans of the Roe v. Wade era.

United States Senator and nominee for president, Barry Goldwater (1909 – 1998) speaking at an election rally in Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA, 28th October 1964. (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“I look back at the time [around] Roe v. Wade,” Weddington said, “and you had Barry Goldwater who was very Republican but very pro-choice. Then you had Ford as president and his wife Betty Ford, who was very pro-choice. So I guess what’s really changed is that now you’ve got so many more Republicans who are very anti-choice, whereas 40 years ago, you had a lot of Republicans who were very pro-choice.”

Read the full interview at TIME.

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