Some of the arguments made by Sarah Weddington in Roe v. Wade

Here is a list of some of the arguments made by Sarah Weddington, the attorney representing Jane Roe, in Roe v. Wade:

  • “The court declared the Texas abortion law to the unconstitutional for two reasons: First, that the law was impermissibly vague, and, second, that it violated a woman’s right to continue or terminate a pregnancy.”
  • “The woman in that case [Doe v. Wade] had a neurochemical condition. Her doctor had advised her not to get pregnant, and not to take the birth control pills. She was using alternative means of birth control, but she and her husband were fearful that she would become pregnant and that, although the neurochemical condition would impair her health, evidently her doctor did not feel that she would die if she continued the pregnancy.”
  • “Certainly there are problems regarding even the use of contraception.”
  • “Abortion now, for a woman, is safer than childbirth. In the absence of abortions, or legal medically safe abortions – women often result to the illegal abortions, which certainly carry risks of death, all the side effects such as severe infections, permanent sterility, all the complications that result. And, in fact, if the woman is unable to get either a legal abortion or an illegal abortion in our State, she can do a self-abortion, which is certainly, perhaps, by far the most dangerous.”
  • “If the pregnancy would result in the birth of a deformed or defective child, she has no relief.”
  • “Regardless of the circumstances of conception, whether it was because of rape, incest, whether she is extremely immature, she has no relief.”
  • “Whether she’s unmarried; whether she’s pursuing an education; whether she’s pursuing a career; whether she has family problems; all of the problems of personal and family life, for a woman, are bound up in the problem of abortion.”
  • “For example, in our State there are many schools where a woman is forced to quit if she becomes pregnant. In the City of Austin that is true. A woman, if she becomes pregnant, and is in high school, must drop out of regular education process. And that’s true of some colleges in our State.”
  • “Here, a woman, because of her pregnancy, is often not a productive member of society. She cannot work. She cannot hold a job. She’s not eligible for welfare. She cannot get unemployment compensation, and furthermore, in fact, the pregnancy may produce a child who will become a ward of the state.”
  • “So, a pregnancy to a woman is perhaps one of the most determinative aspects of her life. It disrupts her body. It disrupts her education. It disrupts her employment. And it often disrupts her entire family life.”
  • “And we feel that, because of the impact on the woman, this certainly and as far as there are any rights which are fundamental is a matter which is of such fundamental and basic concern to the woman involved that she should be allowed to make the choice as to whether to continue or to terminate her pregnancy.”
  • “The only legislative history, of course, is that which is found in other states which has been pointed out to the Court before – and, as Professor Means points out again, that these statutes were adopted for the health of the mother.”
  • “Again, ‘she’ [the mother undergoing an abortion] being regarded as the victim, rather than the perpetrator of the crime.”
  • “And it is our position that there is great and immediate threat of irreparable injury in the form of a continuing pregnancy that will not abate, and that continues.”
  • “Because they are still subject to the irreparable injury, and have no adequate
    State remedy.” (in response to the following question asked by Justice Brennan: “If we’re left only with the lady’s action, are you suggesting that the declaratory relief they already obtained was not enough, because that doesn’t help terminate the pregnancy?”)
  • “There still are unwanted pregnancies. There are still women who, for various reasons, do not wish to continue the pregnancy whether because of personal health considerations, whether because of their family situation, whether because of financial situations, education, working situations, some of the many things we discussed in the last hearing.”
  • “So, there is a great body of cases decided in the past by this Court in the areas of marriage, sex, contraception, procreation, childbearing, and education of children which says that there are certain things that are so much part of the individual concern that they should be left to the determination of the individual.”
  • “Again, this is a very special type case for the women because of the very nature of the injury involved. It is an irreparable injury. Once pregnancy has started, certainly this is not the kind of injury that can be later adjudicated. It is not the kind of injury that can later be compensated by some sort of monetary reward. These women who have now gone through pregnancy and the women who continue to be forced to go through pregnancy have certainly gone through something that is irreparable, that can never be changed for them. It is certainly great and it is certainly immediate. There is no other forum available to them.”
  • “If the state could show that the fetus was a person under the Fourteenth
    Amendment or under some other amendment or part of the constitution, then you would have the situation of trying — you would have a state compelling interest which, in some instances, can outweigh a fundamental right.”
  • “I think had there been established that the fetus was a person under the Fourteenth Amendment or under constitutional protection then there might be a differentiation. In this case, there has never been established that the fetus is a person or that it’s entitled to the Fourteenth Amendment rights or the protection of the constitution.”
  • “It depends on saying that the woman has a fundamental constitutional right and that the state has not proved any compelling interest for regulation in the area.”

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