76-year-old abortion lawyer Sarah Weddington, who argued and won the 1973 landmark court case Roe v. Wade, has died. Weddington pioneered women's reproductive rights in the United States. In addition to winning Roe v. Wade, she also won Griswold v. Connecticut in 1972, which legalized the sale of contraceptives without government regulation.

Weddington's death comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is examining Mississippi's 2018 law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, challenging Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade opened the door to the right of women to terminate pregnancies in the United States in 1973.

The case revolved around 21-year-old Norma McCorvey who was from Texas, and had used the pseudonym "Jane Roe." McCorvey had become pregnant with her third child when she decided that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Under Texas law, abortion was only legal in cases of rape at the time.

As part of her desperate attempt to terminate her pregnancy, McCorvey lied to authorities that she had been attacked by a group of black men which resulted in her pregnancy. Having no evidence to back up her claim, McCorvey admitted that she lied. She then sought an illegal abortion at a clinic that was shut down by authorities.

In an attempt to end her pregnancy, McCovey turned to attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee.

Weddington and Coffe were in search of pregnant women who wanted abortions. McCovey was the only client of Weddington and Coffee who alleged the abortion laws violated the constitution.

Three years of litigation led to the case reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. With the 1973 ruling, abortions became legal all over the United States.

During this time, McCorvey never had an abortion. She gave birth to a child and then placed it for adoption.

Abortion law restrictions

13 states have passed the nation's strictest abortion laws in recent years. In 2013, North Dakota introduced the fetal heartbeat bill and it quickly gained popularity across the country and became law.

Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee, Arizona, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are among the states that have enacted the fetal heartbeat law.

There is controversy surrounding the fetal heartbeat law. Many women are unaware that they are pregnant until six weeks after their last period. Doctors who are caught performing abortions in these states can be sentenced to life in prison.

The fetal heartbeat law is causing concern that women's lives may be at risk. In a case of rape, a woman must have documentation to prove that she was sexually assaulted. Additionally, she will be required to seek medical attention or counseling, with two appointments and at least 48 hours' notice before having an abortion.

The law may also put minors at risk who also have to follow the same procedures for reporting sexual assault.

Fetal heartbeat

According to Medical News Today, an embryo's heart begins to develop and start beating between the 5th and 6th week of pregnancy. By the 10th week of pregnancy, the heart of the fetus is fully developed and functioning.

During routine prenatal appointments, the fetus's heartbeat is checked regularly by the doctor to make sure that it is working properly. To detect a fetus' heartbeat, two methods are used. In the first case, a Doppler ultrasound device is used to monitor the fetal heart. In the second case, the fetal heart is monitored internally. In the internal method, electrodes are attached to thin wires that are pushed into the cervix of the mother. From there, the electrodes are placed on the baby's head.

A baby's heart rate is approximately 110 to 160 beats per minute.