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Sarah Weddington, lawyer in Roe v Wade case, dies at 76

Attorney Sarah Weddington, who argued the Roe v Wade case before the Supreme Court, attends a Planne..
Rick Wilking
Attorney Sarah Weddington, who argued the Roe v Wade case before the Supreme Court, attends a Planned Parenthood event January 21. The 25th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision will be marked with events and marches throughout the country January 22.

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Sarah Weddington, the attorney who argued the landmark Roe v Wade case in the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion nationally, has died, according to a statement from her family provided to The Texas Tribune by Susan Hays, her friend and mentee.

Weddington, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives, was 76 and had a series of health issues in recent years, Hays said.

Weddington was found unresponsive in her Austin home early Sunday by her assistant, Hays said. The official cause of death is not yet known.

Weddington was born in Abilene and attended McMurray University in her hometown before studying law at the University of Texas at Austin.

She filed Roe v Wade in 1970 when she was working for a law professor shortly after graduating from law school. Weddington argued the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court twice.

She was then elected to three terms in the Texas House before being tapped by the Carter administration as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Weddington taught law courses at UT Law for 28 years. She also taught courses at Texas Women's University for 19 years.

Hays, who is currently a candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, said she remembers Weddington a constant advocate for others.

“She…taught me that you always help somebody out and connect them or open the door for them,” Hays said. “That generosity of spirit is too rare these days.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Kate McGee covers higher education for The Texas Tribune. She joins after nearly a decade as a reporter at public radio stations across the country. She most recently covered higher ed at WBEZ in Chicago, but started on the education beat in 2013 at KUT in Austin. She has also worked at NPR affiliates in Washington D.C., New York City and Reno, Nevada. Kate was born in New York City and primarily raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Fordham University. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and The Takeaway.
The Texas Tribune is nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization.