Sarah Weddington: tributes paid to lawyer who argued and won Roe v Wade

Show caption The 2020 Democratic candidate Julián Castro said of Weddington: ‘She leaves behind an incredible legacy – one we must defend now more than ever.’ Photograph: Bob Daemmrich/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock US news Sarah Weddington: tributes paid to lawyer who argued and won Roe v Wade ‘Remarkable woman’ Weddington hailed for role in 1973 case that established right to abortion Maya Yang in New York Mon 27 Dec 2021 15.00 GMT Share on Facebook

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Tributes were paid to Sarah Weddington after the attorney who argued and won the landmark Roe v Wade case at the supreme court, establishing the right to abortion, died aged 76.

Susan Hays, a former student of Weddington’s and a Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner, announced on Twitter that Weddington died on Sunday morning “after a series of health issues”.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood, the largest US provider of reproductive services including abortions, tweeted: “What a loss. What a tremendous legacy.

“Planned Parenthood will continue to honor Sarah Weddington’s work every day – by keeping up the fight to ensure that everyone has access to abortion.”

Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, from which Weddington graduated, wrote: “Sarah Weddington was 26 (!) when she first argued Roe before [the supreme court] in December 1971, just over three years after graduating.

“A remarkable woman, a remarkable career, and a remarkable life. May her memory be a blessing.”

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, of the National Council of Jewish Women, tweeted: “May her memory be a blessing that lights our way in our fight for abortion access and equity for all.”

Julián Castro, a Texas politician who was housing secretary under Barack Obama and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, wrote: “Sarah Weddington was a proud Texan who led the charge to protect reproductive rights under Roe v Wade.

“She leaves behind an incredible legacy – one we must defend now more than ever.”

He was referring to growing threats to Roe v Wade, including the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, heard at the supreme court earlier this month, which could weaken provisions of the landmark ruling.

Colin Allred, a civil rights attorney and Democratic congressman for Texas’s 32nd district, touched on the supreme court’s decision to uphold a Texas abortion law, the most extreme in the US to date, which bans abortions at six weeks and does not make exceptions for incest and rape.

“Texas was home to Sarah Weddington who argued Roe, which no longer exists here,” Allred wrote. “Our history provides hope for our future. We must keep fighting for a better Texas.”

Celia Israel, a Democratic member of the Texas state legislature, tweeted about studying under Weddington at the University of Texas, Austin.

“It was always hard to just call her ‘Sarah’,” Israel wrote. “She commanded respect … she taught a leadership class, held me to high standards and encouraged me to get involved and make my mark.

“As is the case with teachers and leaders we look up to, we are their legacy.”

In an interview with the Guardian in 2017, Weddington predicted: “Whatever else I do in my life, the headline on my obituary is always going to be ‘Roe v Wade attorney dies’.”

She was at peace with that, she said.

“I think most women of my generation can recall our feelings about the fight,” she said. “It’s like young love. You may not feel exactly the same, but you remember it.”