The Bankruptcy of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton

The Bankruptcy of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton February 27, 2017

From the Public Discourse:

The details of the Doe case are particularly appalling. Though her case paved the way for millions of women to abort their children, Sandra Cano herself never wanted an abortion. While going through divorce proceedings, she thought that her parents had hired a lawyer to help her fight for custody of her four children and the fifth child she carried. When she found out that her lawyer scheduled an abortion for her and filed the complaint in Doe v. Bolton, which stated that Sandra wanted an abortion and had been denied one by the state of Georgia, Sandra fled to Oklahoma to avoid being pressured into having an abortion she did not want. She returned only after her lawyer and her mother assured her she would not have to abort her child.


There was no record in Sandra’s case: no written discovery, no interrogatories, no document requests, no depositions, and no expert reports. When I read the transcript of the argument before the three-judge panel, I saw that the attorney general of Georgia argued to the court that they needed discovery. The court, being so anxious to make law, told him they saw no reason to bother.


When the attorney general pointed out that the court didn’t actually “know if ‘Mary Doe’ is even pregnant,” the judges said they would just assume that she was. It didn’t occur to the attorney general that “Mary Doe” might in fact be pregnant but might never have asked the doctors for an abortion—because she didn’t want one. Had Sandra been deposed in the case, her true desires would have been revealed, the case would have been dismissed, and there would never have been a decision by the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton.

Sandra’s attorney, Margie Pitts Hames, convinced Sandra to sit in the back of the courtroom that day. Sandra told me she agreed to this because she wanted to return to Georgia and see her four children. Hames never spoke to Sandra again. Sandra did not know what was going on in the case until she saw a television news commentator announcing the Supreme Court decision on January 22, 1973.


Sandra grieved over that decision for years. She decided to get a copy of the file in her case to review it. The Court would not give it to her, because everything was filed under seal. She retained an attorney who filed a motion to permit Sandra to obtain copies of what was filed on her behalf. The motion was opposed by Margie Pitts Hames, who didn’t want Sandra to see the filings. Eventually the Court ruled in favor of Sandra, and she then discovered that the entire record was nothing other than a single affidavit purporting to be her own sworn statement. Sandra’s signature was found on an affidavit that stated that she wanted an abortion, had gone to a hospital seeking an abortion, and the doctors refused to perform one.


Sandra’s signature was forged. The entire case was a fraud on the Court—fraud that could have been easily detected but for the Court’s decision to decide the substantive issues without any kind of factual record or record containing discovery of any kind.


In Norma’s case, the entire record consisted of a single affidavit that Norma signed but never read. Norma met with her attorney only twice. The first time, they met in a bar over a pitcher of beer to discuss Norma’s willingness to be a plaintiff. The second time, Norma signed the affidavit.


Norma, whose education never went beyond freshman year of high school, later testified that she never knew or understood what an abortion was. She thought that the procedure just prevented a human being from coming into existence, like birth control.

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s, when she worked at an abortion clinic, that Norma started to understand what an abortion really was. One day she was in the “Parts” room, where parts of the babies, like limbs and heads, were brought after the unborn children had been aborted. It was then that Norma realized that abortions terminated the lives of actual living human beings. Soon after, she had her conversion to the pro-life side and, in 1997, started her ministry: “Roe No More.”

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