Interview with Mary Doe (Sandra Cano) of Doe vs. Bolton

Sandra Cano

Sandra Cano can say to just about any troubled person, "Been there, done that". She has experienced the loneliness that comes with growing up with all sorts of odds against you: she came from a poor family in which there were abusive tendencies. Overweight, in possession of a disfigured smile due to Bell's Palsy and suffering from a learning disability, Sandra was the odd man out among her peers.

Her knight in shining armor arrived when she was 17. After a shot gun wedding, she found herself married to a convicted child molester who continued to violate his probation with other molestation and kidnapping offences. By the time she was 22, Sandra was seeking a divorce from her knight in shining armor and living in a shelter with her children. But shelters don't open until about 6 p.m.; so that meant that she was spending her days on the streets with her 3 small children. She was also expecting her fourth child.

Although her knight had proved to be no better than a jester, another smiling face turned to help her: Margie Pitts Hames. Hames was going to help Sandra with a legal battle on her behalf. What Sandra didn't know was that the legal battle was being waged to obtain abortion on demand throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy...all on her behalf, of course. In order to keep the baby whom she already loved, she had to flee the state. Nevertheless, Hames pushed her case forward. Sandra never testified. She never spoke to the justices of the Supreme Court.

An appointment for an abortion was all the assistance that Sandra was offered. But that abortion wouldn't have given her a house and food for her children, it wouldn't have given her a knight in shining armor. It wouldn't be there to comfort her when she mourned her lost child or felt guilty.

This abortion wasn't even going to be Sandra's "choice". She'd never asked for this "choice". Her choice was to be a mother to her children. In order to have her choice, Sandra had to flee from Atlanta to Oklahoma. Otherwise, she would have been constrained to the appointment for the scheduled abortion.

Sandra struggled on with her situation and placed her child for adoption at birth. She spent the next part of her life getting somewhat settled and trying to regain custody of her first three children who were being raised in foster homes.

In 1973, Doe v. Bolton was decided by the Court. The paperwork Sandra thought was related to her divorce and the liberation of her children from foster care turned into one of the most (in)famous cases in our nation's history.

Now, Sandra is 51 and a grandmother of two children that she's raising for her daughter. Sandra comments that she had to become a grandmother in order to experience motherhood.
These children are gifts. Some people would call them a choice. But Sandra is adamant in her pro-life stance from which she has never wavered.

As Sandra looks back on her life, she knows that the difficulties haven't stopped. Yet, she is particularly grateful for one thing: she doesn't have to fight the battle that you have to fight after you take the life of a baby.

When you're young, as Sandra points out, you have an entire life ahead of you. It isn't always a bed of roses. It has its ups and it certainly has its downs. But during the bad times, decisions shouldn't be made which are simply reactions to pain. In the obvious example of a crisis pregnancy, the pregnancy already exists. That fact doesn't change. The important thing is not to let pain impede our decisions and to realize that we can still make decisions which can manifest our love. Even the decision to place a child for adoption involves a great deal of love. It means that the woman loves her baby more than her own pride or more than her own hurt. And it's a gift to the child.

Bad decisions will only bring more pain and ghosts which can be unbearable to live with. A woman who has an abortion may not immediately sense the loss, but eventually she will. She will have to live with the realization that she has killed a child who was a part of herself.

Although Sandra's life has been no bed of roses, Sandra thanks God for the fact that she has never made or even desired the choice that would have caused her to live with this guilt...as many men and women do.

Priests for Life
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