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Pro-choice advocate, Roe v Wade lawyer dies at 76

Sarah Weddinton

The attorney who argued Roe v Wade before the Supreme Court of the United States, and won twice, recently passed away from unknown health related causes.

Sarah Weddington of Abilene, Texas was one of two law school graduates to present a pro-choice defense to SCOTUS on behalf of Norma McCorvey, a.k.a. Jane Roe. (Ironically, McCorvey never had an abortion.)

The Texas Tribune reported Weddington’s political career which began in the early 1970s when she ran for the Texas Legislature and landed a seat in 1972. The Tribune said, “In her first legislative session, [Weddington] successfully passed a bill reforming Texas’ sexual abuse laws and providing legal protection for rape victims…in 1975, Weddington was called one of the best state legislators by Texas Monthly.”

Weddington went on to serve as the general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an assistant to President Jimmy Carter and the first woman to direct the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations. In addition to politics, the Tribune said, “Weddington taught law courses at UT-Austin for 28 years. She also taught at Texas Woman’s University for 19 years.”

Weddington’s passing comes just a few weeks after SCOTUS took up another Texas case on “limit[ing] abortions after cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy,” the Tribune said. On Dec. 1, the High Court also began hearing arguments in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi case with the potential to overturn Roe v Wade at the federal level.

According to AP News, “Weddington…[will be] remembered…as a champion of feminism whose work impacted the nation’s politics as views shifted on abortion…The Supreme Court’s ruling in 1973 cemented her place in history.”

AP News also said, “Policies affecting women were personal to Weddington. While in law school [at UT-Austin], she became pregnant and felt unprepared. Abortion was illegal in Texas, so she and her boyfriend - whom she would later marry - drove to Mexico for the procedure.”

Democrats, women's health advocates and some moderate Republicans will remember Weddington as a bold feminist, a heroin who bravely faced an all-male SCOTUS and fought on behalf of hurting and disadvantaged women. Weddington spoke up for those who were already born and who’d been given some degree of opportunity to make an impact on the world. It was their right to life she would champion throughout her public career.

As political, moral, scientific and religious arguments continue to disclose the constitutionality of the Roe v Wade decision, Weddington’s legacy will forever be tied to the landmark case that legalized the death and dismemberment of the unborn.

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