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‘Jane Doe’s’ Story: An Interview With Sandra Cano

Sandra Cano, the woman at the center of a 1973 abortion decision, spoke out after the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the case.

BY TIM DRAKE

Register senior writer

October 29-November 4, 2006 Issue | Posted 10/25/06 at 10:00 AM

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court Oct. 10 declined to hear a case brought by Sandra Cano, the plaintiff in the Doe v. Bolton case, decided on Jan. 22, 1973 — the same day as Roe v. Wade.

The Doe decision allowed for abortion up until the moment of birth if necessary for the health of the mother.

According to Cano, the original case was advanced without her understanding of what was going on.

Cano spoke with Register senior writer Tim Drake from her home in Atlanta.

What was your reaction to hearing that the Supreme Court had denied to rehear your case?

This is very unconstitutional. A lot of people know that this case was based on fraud. During oral arguments, when this was argued in 1973, one of the justices when asked if I was real or not said it was ‘irrelevant.’

How can you take an American who is protected under our U.S. Constitution, put them on this case and not check the facts to see if this person was real or not? To me, that’s unconstitutional. The Supreme Court failed to protect my constitutional rights. I was used in a case that I was never involved in. There is no justice in this case.

How does it feel to be connected to this case?

It’s a nightmare to be connected to a case that I never wanted to be connected to. Doe v. Bolton allows abortion up to the ninth month. This case takes children’s lives.

Can you explain to me what happened? How did you become involved in the case?

Back in 1970, I had a very complicated marriage and had two children in foster care. I was pregnant and wanted to get my babies back from foster care. I was poor, uneducated and ignorant. My life was very unstable. I was in a survival state. I went to Atlanta Legal Aid to get a divorce. Whoever was there to try to help me, I trusted. That’s how I became unknowingly involved with Doe v. Bolton. Never once did I know that we were going to kill babies.

I can’t understand how a case like this could go to the Supreme Court without anyone knowing or speaking to me to find out if what the attorney was presenting to the court was true. I was so ignorant I didn’t know that there were two cases that legalized abortion.

I ran away to Oklahoma to keep from having an abortion. They knew I was against abortion. Grady Memorial Hospital said I had gone before a panel of nine doctors and nurses to seek an abortion. I never sought an abortion. The hospital has no records because I never went to the hospital.

It was only later that I learned that, through Margie Pitt Hames, I had sued Georgia Baptist Hospital to have an abortion.

When and how did you find out the truth?

In 1974, I went to Georgia Right to Life to try to find someone to help me. I told them that I was the woman who was involved in the abortion law, but didn’t know what it was about. They sent me to Fayetteville to seek help. On and off over the years, I would come forward, but when you don’t have money or people willing to help, a lot of people think you’re someone off the nut wagon.

In the 1980s, I talked to an Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper reporter. She told me I had to prove who I was. I asked, “How do you do that?” She told me I had to go down to the court to verify that I was the person involved in the case. When I did that, they told me I had to go to the Federal Archives building. When I did that, they gave me this humongous book to look through. I didn’t understand half of it. I was out of my league. There was also a sealed envelope. I wanted to open it, but couldn’t. They told me that I would have to go to the court to have my records unsealed. Someone at the court showed me how to petition the court to unseal the records.

A week later, Judge Owen Foster called me. He told me, “I don’t normally do this, but think you need a lawyer. We’re going to be hearing your case.” I found an attorney and went down to the court to unseal the records. Margie Pitt Hames didn’t want me to open the records.

After unsealing the records I wrote to the Supreme Court. They said that the statute of limitations had passed.

Who is working with you on the case now?

The Justice Foundation and Allan Parker. These are wonderful people. They took on this case, and have been working with me and Norma McCorvey knowing that we have no money to pay them. They have put their hearts and souls into the case. They want to stop the killing of babies. They produce the “Operation Outcry” television program that shows the pain of women who have had abortions. Abortion hurts women, too. It destroys their lives. This is a horrible thing that our country has allowed to happen.

What do you have planned next?

We plan to appeal the Supreme Court decision. I have tried 33 years to get justice. The message they are sending to me is that I don’t matter. God has a plan to undo all of this. I’m not going to quit. Justices Alito and Roberts are Godly men. If the court could take and use my name, can they not respect me enough to open their ears and hear this case? All I’m asking for is for them to give me an opportunity. They should reexamine what was put before them.

Tim Drake is based in

St. Joseph, Minnesota.