ABILENE, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – Sarah Weddington, who argued in the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade as a young lawyer in 1971, died of unknown causes Sunday at 76 years old.

According to The Associated Press, Susan Hays, a friend of Weddington’s, said she died in her sleep early Sunday morning in Austin. Hays also told The Associated Press that Weddington had been in poor health for a while.

Weddington was born to Lena and Herbert Ragle, and raised in Abilene as a minister’s daughter. Weddington’s father was a well-respected minister and educator at McMurry University and was the Superintendent for Abilene Independent School District between 1971 and 1975, according to Ragle’s obituary.

Weddington achieved her undergrad degree from McMurry University in Abilene at the young age of 19, before pursuing law at the University of Texas at Austin, as stated by the Texas Tribune.

FILE – Sarah Weddington, general counsel at the Agriculture Department, smiles during an interview at her office in Washington on Aug. 31, 1978. Weddington, who at 26 successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, died Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. She was 76. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma, File)

The Associated Press reports, “A couple 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.”

Weddington filed Roe v. Wade in 1970, in defense of her 22-year-old client, Norma McCorvey, also known as “Jane Roe,” who wanted to terminate her pregnancy.

McCorvey’s case with Weddington was first brought to the Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, which advanced to the Supreme Court a short time later.

Weddington argued the case before the high court twice in December 1971, The Associated Press attributed, and once more in October 1972. The latter resulted in the landmark 7-2 ruling, legalizing abortion nationwide.

According to the obituary of her late ex-husband, James “Ron” Weddington, Ron helped write constitutional rights of Sarah’s legal brief to the Supreme Court, while she made the oral arguments- thus marking the couple’s place in history. Sarah and Ron were married in 1968 and, “divorced amicably in 1974,” according to a 1992 article by the Los Angeles Times.

Supporters of Weddington’s life work stressed her importance to the world of American politics, with a statement submitted to the Texas Tribune, from U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett for Austin.

“With Sarah gone, it is more important than ever to ensure that the fundamental constitutional freedom for which she secured recognition from our highest court is not also gone.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, (D) Austin

Weddington’s death comes mere months after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law, a ban on abortions as early as six weeks.

Meanwhile, her death also comes as the Supreme Court considers the state of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

The Associated Press continued on to report that as Weddington was arguing on behalf of women’s rights to the Supreme Court, she was also running to represent Austin in the Texas House of Representatives. Weddington was successfully elected in 1972 and served three terms. She then served as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and later was an advisor to President Jimmy Carter on women’s issues.

Weddington stayed active in the political and legal worlds in her later years, according to The Associated Press, as she wrote a book on Roe v. Wade, gave lectures and taught courses at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Women’s University, regarding leadership, law and gender discrimination. In addition to those classes, she attended a signing ceremony in 2019 for a New York state law, to safeguard abortion rights should Roe v. Wade be overturned.