Sarah Weddington dead at 76: Lawyer who represented 'Jane Roe' Norma McCorvey in the landmark Roe v. Wade case dies

SARAH Weddington, the lawyer who represented "Jane Roe" Norma McCorvey in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, has died at age 76, according to Texas officials.

"She died early this morning, or overnight in her sleep, at her home in Austin," Susan Hays, one of the lawyer's former students, told The Sun.

"Sarah Weddington died this morning after a series of health issues. With Linda Coffee she filed the first case of her legal career, Roe v. Wade, fresh out of law school," wrote Hays, who is running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

"She was my professor at UT, the best writing instructor I ever had, and a great mentor."

Texas Representative John Bucy III called Weddington a “Texas giant.”

“From litigating Roe v. Wade, to serving in the Texas House, to supporting countless women in politics, she has left a legacy of fighting for progress that is nearly unmatched.”

“Rest in Peace to Texas trailblazer, Sarah Weddington,” wrote councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes.

“Your legacy of fighting for women’s reproductive rights and championing women in politics is felt by all.

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Weddington earned a bachelor’s degree from McMurry University and attended the University of Texas Law School.

After graduating she joined a group of graduate students from the University of Texas-Austin to research ways to challenge anti-abortion statutes. 

It was in 1970 when she met a pregnant McCorvey who was seeking an abortion. Weddington and Coffee filed a suit against Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, who was responsible for an anti-abortion statute.

To protect her identity, McCorvey was referred to as “Jane Roe” in legal documents.

The Dallas courts agreed that abortion laws in Texas were unconstitutional but the state appealed the decision, bringing the case to the United States Supreme Court.

At age 26, Weddington argued before the Supreme Court basing her argument on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 14th amendments and the Court’s previous decision in Griswold v. Connecticut which legalized the sale of contraceptives.

In January 1973, the Court overturned Texas’ abortion law in a 7-2 majority, legalizing abortion throughout the United States.

After the case, Weddington was elected to the Texas House of Representatives three times and spoke at the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston about women’s reproductive freedom.

She also served in the United States Department of Agriculture in 1977 and as an assistant to President Jimmy Carter from 1978 to 1981.

After retiring, Weddington remained active for many years, speaking at multiple engagements, and was a longtime professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Weddington’s death comes as Roe v. Wade is facing its most serious challenge in the Supreme Court in years. A Mississippi case will be ruled upon in 2022.

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