Roe v. Wade plaintiff
lawyer challenges 1973 abortion suit
outline issues they feel argue for overturning Roe v. Wade
By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff
Abortion is a health and safety issue for
women, said a lawyer who represented the woman plaintiff in Roe v. Wade,
the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United
The plaintiff is now working to have that
Sharon Blakeney of Texas Justice Foundation,
a nonprofit public interest litigation firm based in San Antonio, spoke
Wednesday at a forum in the UH Law Center's Krost Auditorium.
Blakeney, a 1997 graduate of the UH Law
Center, said the Texas Justice Foundation is representing Norma McCorvey,
the woman who went by the pseudonym "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Roe v. Wade
decision, and Sandra Cano-Saucedo, who was "Mary Doe" in the companion
case Doe v. Bolton.
Blakeney and Clayton Trotter, the foundation's
general counsel, outlined the issues they felt argue for overturning the
Roe v. Wade decision to members of the law center's Federalist Society
"We now know that abortion doubles the
risk to women of developing breast cancer and that risk is even greater
for women who undergo the procedure before reaching age 18," Blakeney said.
"There is also a greater incidence of nervous
disorders and depression -- the suicide rate is seven times greater in
the year following a depression than it is for women who come to term,"
McCorvey and Cano-Saucedo, who Blakeney
said have never had abortions, now claim they were manipulated when they
were young by their lawyers, who were pursuing their own political objective
of legalizing abortion.
McCorvey and Cano-Saucedo have filed friends
of the court affidavits in a federal lawsuit, which challenges the Supreme
Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
In that federal lawsuit, Donna Santa
Marie et. al. v. Christine Todd Whitman et. al., a New Jersey woman
claims that when she was 16, her parents demanded she get an abortion.
They took her to a clinic where she was forced to undergo the procedure.
She sued in New Jersey court charging the
doctor who performed the abortion with assault and depriving her of parental
rights. The court, citing the Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that she
had no such rights because, under the law, the fetus was not a child.
Trotter explained that the woman's lawyers
hope to challenge the Roe v. Wade decision citing the Supreme Court's
ruling in the "Baby M" case from the 1980.
In that case, a woman who had been paid
to serve as a surrogate mother and carry another couple's fetus sued to
assert her own parental rights.
The court ruled that a woman cannot waive
her parental rights until after the child is born because, before then,
she does not know what she is giving up.
"Abortion is not a right granted by the
Constitution," Trotter said. "Abortion is the waiver of a woman's right
to a relationship with her child."
He also said the current body of law concerning
abortion is "schizophrenic" and "very, very fluid."
Professor Sidney Buchanan, a scholar of
constitutional law at the UH Law Center, served as a commentator at the
forum and challenged many of the points made by Blakeney and Trotter.
"I would suspect that for every woman who
has experienced the difficulties that (Blakeney) was describing with respect
to having an abortion, there have been countless women who have experienced
difficulties from feeling and accepting the pressure of coming to term,"
Buchanan also took issue with Blakeney's
claim that the Supreme Court has said that the Roe v. Wade decision
is not "good law."
Buchanan said that in the Court's latest
decision relating to abortion, it affirmed the "central holding of Roe
v. Wade, that the state may not prohibit anyone from making the decision"
to have an abortion.
Buchanan quoted the current opinion of
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman on the Constitutional justifications
for the Roe v. Wade decision:
"State restrictions on abortions violate
a woman's right to privacy in two ways. First, compelled continuation of
pregnancy impinges on a woman's right to bodily integrity."
"Further, (prohibiting abortion) defies
the woman's right to make her own decisions about reproduction and family