This past holiday season we lost another female icon for women’s rights, Sarah Weddington, a minister’s daughter who became a Texas lawyer, and who, at 26, successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case of Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court, died this past Sunday at the age of 76.
She actually argued Roe v Wade before the High Court twice. Once in December 1971 and again in October 1972, which ultimately resulted in the next year’s 7 to 2 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Only a few years after graduating law school, which shows extreme bravery itself, she and her former classmate, Linda Coffee, brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman (Jane Roe), challenging a state law that largely banned abortions in Texas. It was brought against the then Dallas County District Attorney, Henry Wade. As we all know this case ultimately led to the Supreme Court.
Oddly enough, Weddington’s death, some 50 years later, comes as the Supreme Court is facing challenges to the historic case of Roe v Wade. Currently the Supreme Court is considering a case over Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This case is widely considered to be the most serious challenge in years to Roe v. Wade.
Ms. Weddington was very active in politics. She was a state law maker in the Texas House of Representatives, before becoming general counsel of the US Department of Agriculture and later worked as an advisor on women’s issues to President Jimmy Carter.
She wrote a book on Roe v Wade and gave many lectures and taught many courses at the University of Texas at Houston as well as Texan’s Women’s University on Leadership, Law and Gender Discrimination. She was so active she even attended the 2019 signing ceremony for a New York law meant to safeguard abortion rights, should Roe v Wade be overturned.
It is the hard and valiant work of women like Ms. Weddington who have secured and helped save women’s rights over the years. She will be sorely missed.
Thank you, from all of us, for all the hard work. May you rest in peace.
Selected excerpt(s) and linked article courtesy of The Associated Press
Royalty-free photo courtesy of UnSplash
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