by Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Weddington, an American attorney, law professor and member of the Texas House of Representatives who prevailed in the landmark Roe v. Wade died on Dec.26  at the age of 76 due to declining health. 

Weddington was born in Abilene, Texas in 1945 and attended McMurry University before graduating from the University of Texas school of law in 1967. 

About five years later, Weddington helped represent Jane Roe, who is identified as Norma McCorvey before the U.S Supreme Court which legalized abortion though the United States. McCorvey held the pseudonym Jane Roe in court documents to protect her identity. She was an unmarried Texas woman in her early 20’s who sought to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. 

Attorneys filed a suit against in 1971 against Dallas district attorney Henry Wade, who was responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. Weddington appeared before the U.S Supreme Court in 1971 at the age of 26. 

The Supreme Court would ultimately side with McCorvey on Jan. 22, 1973 in a 7-2 decision that affirmed the legality of a woman's right to have an abortion under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

According to Planned Parenthood, the decision also set a legal precedent that affected more than 30 subsequent Supreme Court cases involving restrictions on access to abortion.

Weddington went on to serve in the Texas House of Representatives for three terms. She also served as assistant to President Jimmy Carter from 1971- 1981. At the University of Texas, she was a professor for 28 years.  

Her death comes after the Supreme Court hinted at accepting a Mississippi law earlier this month that would ban abortions in 26 states after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in the cases of rape or incest. 

Many women may loose access to abortion with a ruling, which is expected in June. 

As a result, clinics in California and the state Legislature revealed a plan to create a “sanctuary” for those seeking reproductive care if Roe v.Wade is overturned. The plan includes possibly paying for travel, lodging and other expenses for people from other states. 

In September, over 40 abortion providers and advocacy groups formed the California Future of Abortion Council, which released a list of 45 reccomendations for the state to consider if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade. 

The council received support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed a package of bills  in September protecting and expanding the access to sexual and reprodictive health care. Further support was shown by Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, President Pro Temp Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), and Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The state offers to pay for abortions to many low-income residents through Medi-Cal. Private insurance companies are required to cover abortions, but many patents may still pay out-of-pocket deductibles. 

People in Texas have lost the protections under Roe when Senate Bill (SB) 8 went into effect on September 1, 2021. According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute released in October. According to Jodi Hicks, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, California has seen an uptick in patients from Texas since its abortion ban went into effect. 

The report cites an increased number of out of state women of reproductive age who would find their next nearest clinic in California would increase from a previous 46,000 to 1.4 million, with 1.3 million of these people residing in Arizona.

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