Roe's Companion

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
March 29, 1999

"I've been pro-life from day one. I don't believe in abortion -- it's against my wishes. I never wanted an abortion and never went for one."

Believe it or not, those are words spoken by the plaintiff in one of the two companion abortion decisions of the United States Supreme Court which legalized abortion throughout the 50 states and throughout the pregnancy.

January 22 is marked each year by the remembrance of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. But Roe vs. Wade was not the only decision on abortion issued that day. The Supreme Court issued a companion decision, Doe vs. Bolton, which is meant to be read in conjunction with Roe vs. Wade. The plaintiff was Sandra Cano. She describes January 22 not as a day of victory, even though she "won" the case, but as a day of tragic sadness for her and the babies. She is so deeply opposed to abortion that she wants the case re-opened and her name -- as well as the lies associated with it -- purged from the records.

Roe vs. Wade said the only abortions the state could prohibit, if it wanted, were abortions in the third trimester provided they were not necessary for the woman's life or health. The exact words of the Court are, "For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother." (Roe, 410 U.S. at 164-65)

In the companion case of Doe vs. Bolton, the Court defined the scope of the "health" exception as follows: "The medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health." (Doe, 410 U.S. at 192).

What this means, as the analysis of the University of Detroit Law Review points out, is that the Supreme Court's decisions "allowed abortion on demand throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy" (Vol. 67, Issue 2, p.157, note 3).

And all based on lies.

When Sandra Cano of Atlanta, Ga. approached her attorneys for help, she understood her case as an effort to obtain a divorce and regain custody of her children. She was pregnant, and her attorney, in partnership with Sandra's mother, arranged an abortion for Sandra at Georgia Baptist Hospital. Sandra had no knowledge of this plan. Such an act was so far from her intentions that when Sandra finally found out about it, she fled to Oklahoma alone.

On March 23, 1997, Sandra Cano joined Norma McCorvey (the plaintiff in Roe vs. Wade) at the National Memorial for the Unborn at Chattanooga, TN, where they both publicly renounced their role in these abortion decisions. Her words are a sign of lasting hope for our nation: "I pledge that as long as I have breath, I will strive to see abortion ended in America."

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