"Lies and Questions"By Ken Concannon
that speak directly to the validity of the Roe & Doe decisions.
( Issue of 8/17/06)
“In 1973, I was the woman designated as ‘Mary Doe,’ the plaintiff in Doe v. Bolton …the companion case to Roe v. Wade… . Although the courts understood that ‘Mary Doe’ was not my real name, what the courts did not know was that, contrary to the facts recited in my 1970 affidavit, I neither wanted nor sought an abortion.”
The above statement is part of an affidavit sworn to before a Georgia notary public on Aug. 12, 2003, by Sandra Cano — the former Sandra Race Bensing, the “Doe” of Doe v. Bolton. In the 2003 affidavit, Cano says that back in 1970 — naïve, 22 and pregnant with her fourth child she sought legal assistance to see her through a divorce and to help her regain custody of two of her children, who were in foster care.
What she found was an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer named Margie Pitts Hames who, Cano says, lied to her, and then lied to the courts. According to Cano, “I was a trusting person and did not read the papers placed in front of me by my lawyer. I truly thought Margie Pitts Hames was having me sign divorce papers.”
Cano’s 2003 affidavit is part of an amicus brief filed on behalf of Cano and “180 women injured by abortion” in a case that will be considered by the Supreme Court in the next few months, Gonzales v. Carhart. In the Gonzales case the Court will consider the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Blocked in lower courts by abortion industry challenges to its constitutionality, the ban has never been enforced primarily because it fails to include the “health” exception required by precedent.
The act states that this law “does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.” But it doesn’t use the word “health” specifically because of the Doe v. Bolton decision that Cano says was a fraud.
In the trimester dictum that emanated from Roe v. Wade, Harry Blackmun, the author of the Roe and Doe decisions, allowed the government to ban abortion “except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.” He then wrote into the Doe decision a definition of “health” so broad — “physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age” — as to guarantee that the exception would always prevail.
Knowing this, and knowing that the assessment of the patient’s “health” would always be determined by the abortionist without any possibility of review by another doctor or medical committee (another gift to the abortion industry built into the Doe decision), the people who wrote the partial-birth abortion ban did not include a health exception.
All this makes the validity of the Doe decision all important in the Gonzales case. But — the original plaintiff in the Doe case claims that the decision is based on a fraud perpetrated on the courts by her lawyer, Margie Pitts Hames. Which leaves us with a question: who’s lying? Margie Hames then or Sandra Cano now?
Hames died in 1993, but before she died she managed to keep the records of the case hidden from her former client for almost 20 years. With the help of a pro-life lawyer, Cano took the matter to court, and the records were finally opened for her to see, which, of course, raises yet another question. Why did Hames not want Cano to see the papers that were filed supposedly on her behalf?
When asked why both plaintiffs in the two landmark abortion decisions — Cano and Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade) — would recant their roles in the abortion movement, apologists for the abortion industry will, if they respond at all, dismiss the disaffection as seduction by the Christian right.
More questions. What was the probability that both plaintiffs would disavow the Roe and Doe decisions and both plaintiffs would walk away from icon status in the abortion movement?
These are important questions, questions that speak directly to the validity of the awful Doe decision, questions that the Supreme Court needs to answer before rendering its decision in the Gonzales case.
Concannon is a freelance writer from Manassas.
Copyright (c) 2006 Elizabeth Foss
From the "Catholic Herald" - "An End to the Madness"
Whatever the future may bring, the days of unrestricted abortion on demand appear to be drawing to an end.
As one news analysis put it, "The view from the pro-choice side is this is a fight they are losing."
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