Sarah Weddington, attorney who argued Roe v. Wade, dies at 76

Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who successfully argued the landmark abortion lawsuit Roe v at the age of 26

DALLAS – Sarah Weddington, a Texas lawyer who successfully sued the landmark abortion lawsuit Roe v. Wade pleaded guilty before the United States Supreme Court on Sunday. She was 76.

Susan Hays, the former student and colleague of Weddington, said she died early Sunday morning in her sleep at her home in Austin. Weddington had been in poor health for some time and it was not immediately clear what caused her death, Hays told The Associated Press.

Growing up as a daughter of a minister in the West Texas city of Abilene, Weddington attended law school at the University of Texas. A few years after graduating, she and a former classmate, Linda Coffee, filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman who challenged a state law that for the most part prohibited abortion.

The case of “Jane Roe”, whose real name was Norma McCorvey, was brought against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and eventually went to the Supreme Court.

Weddington pleaded guilty twice before the Supreme Court, in December 1971 and again in October 1972, which resulted in the following year’s 7-2 ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

Weddington’s death comes because the Supreme Court is considering a case over Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that is widely considered the most serious challenge in years before Roe’s decision.

While that case was before the court, Weddington also ran to represent Austin in the Texas House of Representatives. She was elected in 1972 and served three terms as state legislator, before becoming attorney general of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and later working as an adviser on women’s issues to President Jimmy Carter.

Weddington later wrote a book on Roe v. Wade, gave lectures and gave courses at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Women’s University on leadership, rights, and gender discrimination. She remained active in the political and legal worlds until her later years, attending the 2019 signing ceremony for a New York State law intended to protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade be reversed.


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