Tuesday, January 18, 2005

“Jane Roe,” whose 1973 Supreme Court case struck down state laws against abortion, petitioned the high court yesterday to vacate that decision or order a new trial on the grounds that abortion hurts women.

Norma McCorvey was joined on the steps of the high court yesterday by women who said the public needs to know about the mental and physical damage that their abortions caused them and other women.

“I don’t want any more women to be injured by abortion,” said Miss McCorvey, who reversed her stance on the issue after having worked in abortion clinics and undergoing a religious conversion in 1995.

She says she is now “forgiven by Jesus” for her role in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

“I plead with all that I am for the Supreme Court to take Roe v. Wade and reverse it,” she said yesterday.

The petition Miss McCorvey wants the high court to hear was denied by a federal district court and a federal appeals court. It cites a federal rule that allows a party in a case to ask that the judgment be vacated if it is no longer equitable or there is some other reason the ruling shouldn’t be in effect.

The Supreme Court granted such a request in 1997 in a religious liberties case, attorneys for Miss McCorvey said.

The petition includes sworn testimony from more than 1,000 women who said they were hurt by abortion, and points to medical and scientific articles on the negative effects of abortion on women. It also contends that most abortions aren’t the result of an informed decision, and notes that, far from the social landscape of 1973, 46 out of 50 states now are able to care for unwanted children.

“It’s a different day from 1973,” said Allan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation and lead attorney on the case.

The women who spoke — members of Operation Outcry, an advocacy group of women who have had abortions and want to overturn Roe v. Wade — said they were given little information before their abortions and were led to believe it was a quick fix.

But they later experienced physical pain, hemorrhaging, nightmares, depression and severe emotional problems.

“It’s been 14 years since my last abortion and it has been a week and a half since my last nightmare,” said Caron Strong of Brentwood, Tenn. She said no one told her that her four abortions could cause the psychological pain and miscarriages she suffered.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said pro-life advocates have tried unsuccessfully for years to scientifically prove post-abortion stress syndrome. She said vacating Roe v. Wade would jeopardize the lives of women and that many women say abortion helped them improve their lives.

“There is no scientific or medical evidence that would cause a Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade based on alleged post-abortion stress syndrome,” she said.

But among the women who spoke yesterday was Alveda C. King, a civil rights activist and niece of the late Martin Luther King.

Miss King said that after she had an abortion, “the guilt made me ill.”

She compared abortion to slavery. “Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate,” she said.

Amy Young of Sterling, Va., said it took her 17 years to realize that the source of so much anger and bitterness in her life was the abortion she had.

“I still cry; I still hurt,” she said, adding that the irony of the “pro-choice” society is that no woman truly wants to have a painful, uncomfortable procedure, but “she does it because she believes she has no other choice.”

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