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The leak of a draft of the Supreme Court of the United States in which it would apparently decide to repeal the emblematic ruling Roe vs. Wade, which ensured the national right to abortionhas sparked widespread outrage. However, the lawyer Linda Coffee is particularly upset.

Coffe is the sole survivor of the legal team that won the case in 1973.

“I think it will be horrifying” if the Supreme Court finally approves the draft that Politico published last week, the 79-year-old woman said in an interview with AFP at her home in Texas.

“It will cost much more for people who do not have a good health plan or simply for the poor” to access the abortionsaid Coffee sitting in her wheelchair.

“They can’t go to another state,” he said. “A lot of people can’t afford a plane ticket.”

If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe vs. Wade, millions of American women could be hundreds or even thousands of miles from the nearest medical facility that performs abortions.

“I think a very large percentage of people are in favor of keeping Roe vs. Wade in some way,” Coffee said, adding that “a very small portion don’t want” to keep any of that legislation.

According to a May 2021 Pew Research Center study, 59% of Americans believed that abortion should remain legal in most cases.

If the decision in Roe vs. Wade is repealed, each state will decide whether or not to allow abortions and how to set the conditions.

In that case, 26 states would ban the abortion “certainly or possibly,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights.

Coffee was 27 years old when he filed Roe v. Wade in a Dallas court. (EXTERNAL SOURCE)

50 years later

He had worked on a legal argument that his client, a 21-year-old woman seeking an abortion, had her constitutional right to “privacy” violated by Texas law that prohibited the procedure in most cases.

In poverty and suffering from addiction problems, Norma McCorvey said she did not have the means to travel out of state for a abortion.

After meeting Coffee and her partner Sarah Weddington, McCorvey eventually agreed to be the plaintiff, using the pseudonym “Jane Roe,” to challenge a Texas ban that had been filed by Henry Wade, a Dallas County district attorney.

Almost 50 years later, Coffee continues to receive messages from students, activists and journalists who want to know more about the legal battle that is now at the center of the debate over the abortion in United States.

She adds the letters to her personal collection, which includes the pens she received for appearing before the Supreme Court and newspaper articles about the abortion or about Sarah Weddington, his fighting partner, who died last year at the age of 76.

“Sometimes I get calls from people from South Dakota, or you know, even from Canada … most of them don’t know that Jane Roe never had a abortionCoffee said between laughs.

In fact, the “Roe” case took three years before he was found right through the courts. That is why when the Supreme Court issued her final decision, in January 1973, Norma McCorvey had already given birth to her baby, whom she gave up for adoption like her two previous children of hers.

difficult few years

Weddington later worked in politics, but Coffee long stayed out of the spotlight as he continued to litigate in Texas, especially in bankruptcy and divorce cases.

When he retired, Coffee moved to the small town of Mineola, two hours east of Dallas, where he still lives.

“Linda doesn’t stand out,” explained Rebecca Hartt, Coffee’s partner of 38 years. “She’s very shy,” she added.

The last few years have been difficult for Coffee: After being hospitalized in intensive care for 241 days for encephalitis, she broke her hip last summer.

The couple lives without water service inside their house because they cannot pay the thousands of dollars it costs to repair the pipes, damaged after the cold wave of February 2021.

Coffee’s cousin Richard Stafford says she has multiple projects that “should help her get out of that tight spot.”

He is in talks with audiovisual producers about “a documentary and a movie script,” said Stafford, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia.

Additionally, Stafford hopes to publish a biography based on Coffee’s experiences preparing and arguing Roe v. Wade.

AFP is a major global information agency that offers fast, verified and comprehensive coverage.

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