In a move hailed as a breakthrough by abortion opponents, a federal appeals court agreed to hear oral arguments in an attempt by the original plaintiff in Roe vs. Wade to overturn the landmark decision.
Norma McCorvey – “Jane Roe” in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case – wants to reopen the case that struck down all state laws restricting abortion,
based on changes in law and new scientific research that make the prior decision “no longer just.”
As WorldNet Daily reported, a district court ruled it was too late for McCorvey to reopen the case.
“Whether or not the Supreme Court was infallible, its Roe decision was certainly final in this litigation,” Dallas Judge David Godbey wrote in the ruling. “It is simply too late now, thirty years after the fact, for McCorvey to revisit that judgment.”
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has agreed to hear oral arguments March 2.
The San Antonio-based Justice Foundation, which is assisting McCorvey, is asking organizations and individuals to participate in 21 days of prayer and fasting for the case, beginning this past Thursday.
The group said Sandra Cano, plaintiff in the Doe vs. Bolton companion case, has requested that case be overturned as well.
Allan Parker, CEO of the Justice Foundation, said the court’s decision to hear oral arguments is “quite a breakthrough,” since only about 10 percent of cases filed receive oral arguments and the state of Texas is not opposing the case.
McCorvey’s attorneys will be the only attorneys arguing, since neither the state nor the district attorney have filed briefs in the case.
“There are several issues before the court,” Parker said, “whether Roe versus Wade should be overturned; whether to grant the motion based on the evidence that was submitted with the motion; or send the case back to a trial court for a trial; and whether a single judge or a three-judge panel should have heard the case at the trial court level.”
Last June, Parker contended Judge Godbey misunderstood the motion, arguing the case is about changes in the relevant factual conditions, not a submission of new evidence.
One of the most relevant changes in law, he says, is the 1999 “Baby Moses” statute which allows a mother to hand over her child to the care of the state, meaning she no longer is forced to dispose of “unwanted” children by ending a human life.
Texas is among 40 states with such legislation, which didn’t exist in 1973, Parker notes.
Among McCorvey’s 5,437 pages of evidence are affidavits from more than 1,000 women who testify having an abortion has had devastating emotional, physical and psychological effects.
“It’s a shame that the courts are unwilling to listen to women’s testimonies about what abortion does to women,” he said.
Parker also contended Godbey made an error in his determination of what is a reasonable time within which to reopen a case.
Godbey said court opinions are measured in terms of weeks or months, not in decades.
But Parker points to the 1997 Agostini v. Felton decision in which the high court used a post-judgment motion by a party to overturn two 12-year-old precedents.
McCorvey announced in 1995 she had become a Christian and later launched a pro-life ministry called Roe No More. She told WorldNetDaily two years ago she was “used” by abortion-rights attorneys in their quest to legalize the procedure.
One of her attorneys in the 1973 case, Sarah Weddington, expressed delight but not surprise at Godbey’s decision last June.
“It never should have been filed,” Weddington told the AP at the time. “Those who filed it got publicity but the publicity actually has been very helpful for those of us who believe the government should not be involved.”
After announcement of the motion, she received about two dozen offers to help defend the Roe vs. Wade decision.
In his plea issued this week, Parker said, “Please continue to pray that the Lord’s will be done, for a spirit of justice for the judges, for God’s perfect timing, the demonstration of God’s mighty power, and that the covenant with death be annulled, the agreement with the grave will not stand.”