People attend an abortion access rally in front of the San Pedro Playhouse in San Antonio, Texas (Image: Sipa USA/Carlos Kosienski)

Sarah Weddington is the youngest woman to win a case at the United States Supreme Court. In December 1971, the then-26-year-old UT Austin law graduate, together with fellow alumna Linda Coffee, represented plaintiff "Jane Roe" against Henry Wade, the District Attorney of Dallas County. The issue in dispute was whether federal or state governments could prohibit a pregnant woman's right to an abortion.

Guided by precedent established by the Court in its 1965 ruling on Griswold v Connecticut, which found that married couples had a constitutionally guaranteed right to access contraception without government restriction, Weddington argued that the same protection should apply to women's right to choose. After a further hearing in October 1972, the justices concurred on January 22, 1973.

By a 7-2 vote, they held that women had an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. Beyond that governments could apply reasonable health standards in the second trimester, with more stringent regulations allowed during the third trimester.