The attorney who successfully argued for abortion rights in front of the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago has reportedly died.
According to reports, Sarah Weddington was died at her home in Austin, Texas, on Sunday at the age of 76.
Weddington’s impact on abortion rights
The liberal lawyer provided a persuasive argument during hearings for the landmark Roe v. Wade case
A minister’s daughter, Weddington was born in Abilene and received a law degree at the University of Texas.
Although she was a relative unknown at the time, she and former classmate Linda Coffee went looking for clients to challenge abortion restrictions when they took up the case of a pregnant woman known only as Jane Roe in a class-action lawsuit.
At the age of 26, she argued for abortion rights against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and convinced Supreme Court justices to enshrine the federal right of women to seek abortions.
Weddington went on to serve as a member of the state House of Representatives and was an appointee in the Carter administration. She was able to turn her notoriety from the Roe v. Wade case into a career as a law professor and author.
“May not have been totally ethical”
On a personal level, she wrote about traveling to Mexico as a law student to receive an abortion.
Later in her life, she acknowledged that her tactics in the Roe case “may not have been totally ethical,” but sought to defend them nevertheless because she was motivated by what she “thought were good reasons.”
Weddington continued to advocate for abortion rights throughout her life, signaling a concern during the Trump administration that a conservative Supreme Court majority could threaten the perceived progress on the women’s rights front.
Her death comes as justices are set to hear arguments in a challenge to the Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy and which seems to directly challenge the precedents set by the Roe case and subsequent rulings.
For her part, Roe — whose real name was Norma McCorvey — subsequently rejected her position on the issue and became an anti-abortion activist prior to her death in 2017.