Hundreds of mourners took to social media on Sunday to remember the life of Sarah Weddington, a key figure and pioneer in women’s abortion rights, who died in her sleep in Austin on Sunday. She was 76 years old.
“Sarah Weddington was a great Texan who changed the course of our nation’s history,” Dallas Representative Colin Allred said in a prepared statement. “Our generation of Texans has a responsibility to continue its efforts to protect the right to choose, and I will always work in Congress to do so.”
Weddington was 26 when she first argued the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
Abortion became legal in the United States when the court made its 7-2 decision on January 22, 1973, making Weddington a hero to some and a villain to others.
“Sarah Weddington was a giant in Texas,” Texas Representative John Bosey III said in a tweet. “From the prosecution of Roe v. Wade, to serving in the Texas House, to supporting countless women in politics, she has left a legacy of struggle for progress almost unparalleled.”
Sarah Weddington was a giant in Texas. From the prosecution of Roe v. Wade, to service in the Texas House, to supporting countless women in politics, she has left a legacy of struggle for progress almost unparalleled. (1/2) #txlege pic.twitter.com/SVnOpU06af
Representative John Busey III (BucyForTexas) December 26, 2021
Susan Hayes, an intern and former student at Weddington, said on Twitter that Weddington inspired her to be a lawyer and that they often talked about politics and service.
“Public schools don’t teach kids what they don’t have or don’t have except for the work of people like Sarah,” Hayes said. “Her lessons opened my eyes to how weak my freedom and independence as a human being is.”
In a tweet, Hayes said Weddington worked on Roe v. Wade because law firms were reluctant to hire women in the 1970s.
Hayes said this meant that Weddington had “a lot of time for good problems,” including running for office and becoming the first woman from Travis County elected to the Texas legislature.
They came as soon as Barbara Jordan left the Senate and Cece Farentold left #txlegeShe is the only five women in the legislature in the year of reform after Sharpstown. Scotus Rowe released about the time her tenure began. The world was changing for women. 4 /
– Susan Hayes (@hays4ag) December 26, 2021
Michelle Deitch, a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and Public Policy, said she met Weddington when she first moved to Austin. Deitch said Weddington was warm and welcoming and gave great guidance.
“We’ve lost a real soul and a good soul,” Deitch said.
I met Sarah Weddington through a friend when she moved to Austin as a young lawyer committed to social justice and her job search. She couldn’t have been more warm or welcoming, and she gave great guidance. We have lost a true spiritual and a good soul. RIP Sarah. https://t.co/xM3CkDG7Av
– Michael Deitch (@mydeitch) December 26, 2021
US Representative Lloyd Doggett described Weddington as a friend, and praised her for her work in support of women’s reproductive freedom, but also acknowledged her work as a legislator, presidential advisor, educator and public speaker.
“Her passion for reproductive freedom was matched by her compassion for our neighbours. She shows the tremendous impact a woman of one determination can have,” Doggett said in a tweet. “With Sarah gone, it is more important than ever to ensure that basic constitutional freedom does not go away. for which I have received recognition from our highest court.”
A state representative, Celia Israel, said Weddington was her professor at Austin University, and that Weddington held her to “high standards.”
It was always difficult to call her “Sarah,” who was so respected. She was my teacher Tweet embed Where I taught a leadership class that took me to new heights and encouraged me to get involved and make my mark # Sarah
Celia Israel December 27, 2021
Weddington’s death comes at a time when reproductive rights are still hotly debated. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case related to Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, considered the biggest challenge in years to Roe’s decision.
“With reproductive health care under attack here in Texas and across the country, we must follow Sarah’s lead and fight for what’s right with the courage of our convictions,” Texas Governor candidate Beto O’Rourke said in a written statement.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas also praised Weddington’s work, with spokeswoman Sarah Waite saying she “grown up at a time when women faced restrictions and roadblocks in nearly every aspect of their lives. As a young Texas attorney, she stood fearlessly before the US Supreme Court.” To make a historic decision on abortion rights that changed the course of history and opened doors for the generations that followed.”