An appeals court has canceled oral arguments in a case brought by the original plaintiff in Roe vs. Wade to overturn the landmark abortion decision.
As WorldNetDaily reported, 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.”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had agreed to hear oral arguments but issued an order yesterday with no explanation for having changed its mind, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
However, the group representing McCorvey believes the cancellation could be favorable to its case.
It could mean the appellate court believes the case is an easy one or that the 5th Circuit judges want simply to advance the case quickly, said Allen Parker, director of the San Antonio-based Texas Justice Foundation.
“They may just be urging us to go to the Supreme Court,” he told the San Antonio paper.
The order, signed by Circuit Judge Edith H. Jones of Houston, effectively means the three-judge panel will rely only on written briefings to decide whether to reopen the case, the Express-News said.
The other judges are Edward C. Prado of San Antonio and Jacques L. Wiener Jr. of Shreveport, La..
Last year, a Dallas district court judge 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.”
The Justice Foundation said Sandra Cano, plaintiff in the Doe vs. Bolton companion case, has requested that case be overturned as well.
Parker, who had called the court’s decision to hear oral arguments “quite a breakthrough,” said the court will face several issues, including “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.”