Lawyer (76) who won landmark Roe v Wade abortion case dies

Sarah Weddington and former classmate brought lawsuit challenging state law in US that largely banned abortions

A Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v Wade before the US Supreme Court has died aged 76.

Sarah Weddington died in her sleep early on Sunday morning at her Austin home, her former student and colleague Susan Hays said.

Ms Weddington had been in poor health for some time, and it was not immediately clear what caused her death, Ms Hays added.

Raised as a minister’s daughter in the West Texas city of Abilene, Ms Weddington attended law school at the University of Texas.

A couple of years after graduating, she and a former classmate, Linda Coffee, brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman challenging a state law that largely banned abortions.

The case of “Jane Roe”, whose real name was Norma McCorvey, was brought against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade and eventually advanced to the Supreme Court.

Ms Weddington argued the case before the high court twice, in December 1971 and again in October 1972, resulting the next year in the 7-2 ruling that legalised abortion nationwide.

Ms Weddington’s death comes as the Supreme Court is considering a case over Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that is widely considered to be most serious challenge in years to the Roe decision. – PA