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Dallas attorney paid $15 to file Roe v. Wade in 1970, comments on leaked Supreme Court draft opinion

$15. That’s what it cost Linda Coffee to file Roe v. Wade in Dallas in 1970.
Credit: WFAA

MINEOLA, Texas — $15. That’s what it cost Dallas attorney Linda Coffee to file Roe v. Wade in 1970.  

“Now they keep raising the cost of filing things,” Coffee said laughing. 

Coffee, 79, was born in Houston but grew up in Dallas, attending Woodrow Wilson High School. 

She later graduated from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Coffee clerked for federal judge Sarah Hughes, who famously swore in Lyndon B. Johnson as president on Air Force One after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

Coffee later teamed up with fellow UT law school grad, Sarah Weddington, to challenge abortion laws in Texas. 

“She was going to bring an abortion challenge," Coffee said. “I don’t know how she was going to do it, because she didn’t have a client."  

Coffee said a friend from church introduced her to Norma McCorvey, who was pregnant and wanted an abortion.

McCorvey became known as “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade, the Dallas District Attorney.

RELATED: Did you know? Old Dallas courtroom still exists where Roe v. Wade was argued 

“Henry Wade was really a very excellent prosecutor,” Coffee said.

Coffee and Weddington argued the case in a Dallas courtroom, which still exists on Ervay Street downtown. The three judges who heard the case agreed with Jane Roe’s attorneys. But the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. 

“I was kind of nervous anyway because I never -- this is the only time I've ever addressed the United States Supreme Court,” Coffee said.

Coffee still has her quill pens, a traditional souvenir given to lawyers who argue in front of the Supreme Court.

“There were so many people, and we noticed that there were a lot of the wives of the justices on the Supreme Court were there,” Coffee said.

The Supreme Court ruled in their favor, legalizing abortions in 1973. But now, the future is uncertain after a leaked draft opinion shows a majority of U.S. Supreme Court Justices are ready to overturn Coffee’s case.

RELATED: Texans react with everything from joy to anger over possible end to Roe v. Wade

“I'm sure that's what we're going to be fighting over state by state in the future,” Coffee said. “I think people will go places where they can get an abortion.”

Her advice to the younger generation?

“Keep participating,” Coffee said. “Do the best you can to try to make things better.”

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