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Appeals court to hear request to reopen Roe

An appellate court has agreed to hear a request from Norma McCorvey — the woman formerly known as “Jane Roe”  — to reconsider the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has agreed to hear a request from the woman formerly known as “Jane Roe” to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Norma McCorvey, who joined with anti-abortion activists nearly 10 years ago, is seeking to have the decision overturned, citing what she says is more than 30 years of evidence that abortions are psychologically harmful to women.

A federal district judge threw out her initial request in June, saying it was not made within a reasonable time. But the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear McCorvey’s arguments March 2.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted ever since Day One, and it’s happening,” McCorvey said from her Dallas home.

Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill, whose predecessor Henry Wade who was named in the original lawsuit, has not filed a response to McCorvey’s appeal. That may put the appeals court in the unusual position of hearing arguments from only one side.

Wade was named in the original case because he was charged with enforcing the Texas law that prevented McCorvey from having an abortion. Hill’s office has argued that since that law no longer exists, Hill has no authority to prosecute and should not be sued.

More than 20 Texas law school professors concerned about an unbalanced hearing filed a brief Wednesday asking to be allowed to argue the other side of the case.

“It’s important that the court hear from somebody representing the position that the district court took, which I think is clearly right,” said David Schenck, a lawyer representing the professors. “At this point, the case is moot, and she’s presenting at best a political question.”

The Supreme Court decision came after McCorvey had her baby. The baby was the third child McCorvey put up for adoption; she was a 21-year-old carnival worker at the time.

She publicly identified herself as Jane Roe in 1980.