AUSTIN, Texas — Sarah Weddington, who successfully argued against Texas anti-abortion statutes before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, died in Austin at age 76 on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports.

Susan Hays, a student of Weddington’s and Democratic candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, said on Twitter that Weddington died after “a series of health issues.”

Obit Sarah Weddington

Attorney Sarah Weddington speaks during a women’s rights rally in 2013 in Albany, N.Y. She died Sunday at age 76. Mike Groll/Associated Press

“She was my professor at UT, the best writing instructor I ever had, and a great mentor,” Hays wrote.

Weddington’s death comes as the precedent set by the Roe v. Wade decision is being tested by new lawsuits and laws, including Texas’ Senate Bill 8, which bans most abortions in the state because of its six-week gestation limit. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court justices allowed abortion providers to sue some state leaders to block the ban, but let the law remain in effect.

Weddington, born in Abilene, graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1967, a few years before taking on the landmark abortion case that would eventually legalize abortion in the United States.

In 1970, Weddington and Linda Coffee filed a lawsuit on behalf of Norma McCorvey, a woman in Dallas who had sought an abortion and was named as “Jane Roe” in the case to protect her identity.


Weddington and Coffee sued Henry Wade, a Dallas district attorney responsible for enforcing a Texas anti-abortion statute. They argued before the nation’s Supreme Court that Texas’ laws were vague and violated McCorvey’s constitutional right to privacy to choose an abortion and won the case 7-2.

“A lot of people together won Roe v. Wade,” Weddington told a group of UT students in 1998, according to an Austin American-Statesman article. “We give it to you proudly so it can be passed down to other generations.”

In the nearly 50 years since that Supreme Court victory, Weddington continued a trailblazing path, becoming the first woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Austin and Travis County in the early 1970s.

She later became the first woman to be general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was a special assistant to President Jimmy Carter from 1978 to 1981.

She lectured at Texas Woman’s University from 1981 to 1990 and was a professor at UT-Austin for 28 years. She also founded the Weddington Center and was “devoted to helping individuals develop their personal leadership skills and to increasing the number of women who hold leadership positions,” according the center’s website.

Weddington also fought against breast cancer and detailed part of her experience in a 2001 American-Statesman personal essay.


“I have many labels that I worked hard to achieve. … But I have a new label l wish weren’t true: breast cancer patient,” she wrote.

Weddington later underwent surgery and chemotherapy, according to the Weddington Center.

In a 2012 essay, Weddington said she looked forward to being buried near Texas Gov. Ann Richards’ gravesite in the Texas State Cemetery.

“My gravesite is about 50 feet away from hers. Hopefully, when I call the Texas State Cemetery home, we will have great late-night conversations, remembering our battles of the past and celebrating the victories that live after us,” she wrote in The Texas Observer.

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