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

As the United States Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling that could limit or perhaps even overturn the landmark 1973 abortion case of Roe v. Wade, one of the lawyers who provided successful arguments before the panel in that case has died at age 76, as Fox News reports.

Sarah Weddington died at her Austin, Texas home after battling a number of health issues in recent years, according to Susan Hays, a former law student and legal colleague, who announced the death on Twitter, the Dallas Morning News noted.

Paying tribute to the prominent pro-choice advocate, Hays wrote, “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.”

Highlighting the remarkable nature of her involvement in what became a pivotal case in American jurisprudence, Hays continued, “At 27 she argued Roe to SCOTUS (A fact that always made me feel like a gross underachiever).”

As Fox News further noted, Weddington was born in Abilene, Texas, the daughter of a Methodist minister, and she enjoyed a long and varied career that included time spent in the state legislature, service in the United States Department of Agriculture, and several years working as an assistant to President Jimmy Carter.

In later years, Weddington authored a book on the pivotal abortion case, delivered lectures at multiple Texas universities, and continued her involvement within the legal and political realms as recently as the last few years, according to NBC News.

Weddington issued what turned out to be a prescient warning to abortion rights advocates in 2017, when she opined that the presidency of Donald Trump posed a serious threat to the survival of Roe, stating that if he succeeded in appointing and confirming more than one justice to the nation’s high court, the ruling could well be overturned.

Declaring that Neil Gorsuch’s ascent to the panel alone was likely insufficient to endanger Roe, Trump’s placement of “two or three” more justices – something which ultimately occurred – could well be the tipping point on abortion that she feared most.

Though millions of Americans wholeheartedly disagree with Weddington’s entrenched position on abortion, there is no room for debate about the fact that she was a zealous advocate, prolific scholar, and formidable adversary who will surely be missed by those whose lives she touched.