Texas lawyer Sarah Weddington – who won a landmark 1973 court case to make abortions legal across the US – has died at her home in Austin aged 76.
Reports of her death were confirmed by Susan Hays, Weddington’s former student and colleague, who stated that she passed away on Sunday morning “after a series of health issues.”
Widely known as Roe v Wade, the court case went in her favour as after a vote of seven to two, the court justices ruled against the government stressing that it lacked the power to prohibit abortions.
During her lifetime, Sarah Weddington also held office in the Texas House of Representatives for three terms in 1970s and was later an adviser on women’s issues in US President Jimmy Carter’s administration.
What is Roe v Wade?
The court’s judgement in 1973 was based on the decision that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy came under the freedom of personal choice in family matters as protected by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The ruling came after a 25-year-old single woman, Norma McCorvey – under the pseudonym “Jane Roe” – challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas that forbade abortion as unconstitutional except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
Henry Wade was the Texas attorney general who defended the anti-abortion law.
Ms McCorvey first filed the case in 1969. She was pregnant with her third child and claimed that she had been raped. But the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth.
However, in 1973 her appeal made it to the US Supreme Court where she was represented by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, a former classmate of Weddington’s from the University of Texas.
When Weddington argued the case before the Supreme Court, she was just 26 years old.