Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

SARAH WEDDINGTON
(1945-)

Susan L. Patnode

While the Roe v. Wade case reflected the politically charged atmosphere of the women's movement in the 1970s, it was in no way a calculated effort on the part of a national organization. Had it been, it is unlikely that Sarah Weddington, just out of law school and never having argued in a court of law, would have been chosen to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some people are driven from their very beginnings to be agents of change. They seem from birth to boldly assert their right to leadership and assume the center of attention. As in all significant social movements, there have been many larger-than-life figures in the feminist movement, activists whose personalities seemed at times to overshadow their politics on the way to making history. But there have also been others who did not seem to consciously set out to turn the tide. Yet somehow, a series of experiences, circumstances, and coincidences can combine to propel an otherwise traditional person into the radical political arena. For some, this political actualization may be short-lived. For others, like Sarah Weddington, it can lead to a lifelong political commitment.

As a twenty-five-year-old, inexperienced attorney, Weddington successfully argued the 1973 milestone case Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court, and she continues twenty-five years later to devote her life to women's reproductive freedom. Her early life, however, was hardly an indicator of the impact she would have on the lives of generations of American women. Personal circumstances and public events caused her to become one of the most significant change agents for women in this century.

Sarah Ragle Weddington was born on February 2, 1945, in Abilene, Texas, to Herbert and Lena Ragle. Her father was a Methodist minister, and consequently her family lived in various west Texas towns during her childhood. As a minister's child she grew up in a very traditional setting, singing in the church choir and serving as an officer in the Methodist Youth Fellowship. From her high school position as president of Future Homemakers of America, there was little

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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