DALLAS (AP) – Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who, at 26, successfully litigated the landmark Roe v. Abortion rights case. Wade in the United States Supreme Court, died Sunday. She was 76 years old.
Susan Hays, a former student and colleague from Weddington, said she died in her sleep early Sunday morning at her home in Austin. Weddington had been in poor health for some time and the cause of his death was not immediately clear, Hays told The Associated Press.
Raised as a pastor’s daughter in the town of Abilene, West Texas, Weddington attended Law School at the University of Texas. A few years after graduating, she and former classmate Linda Coffee filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman challenging a state law that broadly prohibited abortions.
The case of “Jane Roe”, her real name Norma McCorvey, was brought against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and ultimately went to the Supreme Court.
Weddington argued the case in the High Court twice, in December 1971 and again in October 1972, culminating the following year in the 7-2 decision that abortion legalized across the country.
Weddington’s death comes as Supreme Court hears case Mississippi bans abortions after 15 weeks pregnancy which is widely regarded as the most serious challenge in years to Roe’s decision.
While that case was in court, Weddington also came forward to represent Austin in the Texas House of Representatives. She was elected in 1972 and served three terms as a state legislator, before becoming general counsel for the US Department of Agriculture and later working as a women’s affairs adviser to President Jimmy Carter.
Weddington went on to write a book on Roe v. Wade, lectured and taught courses at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Woman’s University on leadership, law, and gender discrimination. She remained active in the political and legal worlds until her last years, attending the signing ceremony 2019 for a New York State law to protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade was canceled.
This story corrected the name of a university where Sarah Weddington lectured. It’s Texas Woman’s University, not Texas Women’s University.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.