As Americans await a ruling from the United States Supreme Court that could significantly limit the scope of — or even overturn — the pivotal 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, one of the lawyers who – at the young age of 27 – successfully argued that case has died at the age of 76, as Fox News reports.
Sarah Weddington died Sunday in her sleep at her Austin, Texas home, said Susan Hays, a former student and legal colleague, and it was reported that the attorney who gained notoriety for her win in Roe had been suffering from a host of physical ailments in recent years, according to NBC News.
Hays paid tribute to Weddington on social media over the weekend, writing, “With Linda Coffee she filed the first case of her legal career, Roe v. Wade, fresh out of law school. She was my professor at [the University of Texas], the best writing instructor I ever had, and a great mentor.”
As Fox News noted, Weddington was born a minister’s daughter in Abilene, Texas, and her career included her victory in Roe as well as subsequent election to the Texas legislature, where she remained for three terms.
In addition, Weddington spent time working within the Department of Agriculture as well as serving as an assistant to President Jimmy Carter focusing on women’s issues.
During her later professional years, Weddington penned a book on the landmark abortion rights case, appeared as a lecturer and teacher at the University of Texas as well as Texas Woman’s University, and remained highly involved in the political and legal realms up until relatively recently, NBC News added.
As recently as 2017, Weddington cautioned pro-choice Americans everywhere about the risk she perceived then-President Donald Trump to pose when it came to abortion, suggesting that if he had the opportunity to appoint multiple justices to the high court, Roe could indeed be overturned – a prescient observation, considering the conservative majority now seated on the panel.
Warning that the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch – which was under consideration at the time of her comments – would likely not tip the scales toward an upending of Roe, the placement of “two or three might.”
Though her steadfast commitment to preserving and expanding abortion is something with which millions can wholeheartedly disagree, there is no doubt that Weddington was indeed a formidable legal adversary who will be missed by legions of friends, family and colleagues alike.