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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Court Cancels Roe v Wade Consideration.

Oral arguments on a motion to reconsider the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 31 years ago have been canceled by a federal appeals court, which will now only review written pleadings in the case.

Monday's move represented an about-face by justices on giving Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade fame a chance to argue before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that her landmark abortion case should be reopened and reversed, the San Antonio Express-News reported Tuesday.

Former plaintiff Norma McCorvey of Dallas, who challenged Texas' abortion ban under the pseudonym Jane Roe, has contended that the case should be re-decided in light of evidence that the procedure may harm women.

The New Orleans-based appeals court had agreed they would hear McCorvey's arguments March 2. But the order signed Monday by Circuit Judge Edith H. Jones of Houston offered no explanation for why judges decided against the hearing a week beforehand.

Justices Edward C. Prado of San Antonio and Jacques L. Wiener Jr. of Shreveport, La., are the other judges on the panel that will now rely only on written briefs to decide whether the case can be reopened.

A federal district court in Dallas last year threw out her request days after it was filed, saying it wasn't made within a reasonable time.

Allen Parker, director of the San Antonio-based Texas Justice Foundation, the group that represents McCorvey, interpreted the cancellation favorably.

Parker said it could mean the appellate court thinks the case can easily be decided on the basis that the trial judge abused his authority. Parker said the 5th Circuit judges might simply want to move the case forward quickly.

"They may just be urging us to go to the Supreme Court," he said.

McCorvey, who publicly identified herself in 1980 and now actively opposes abortion, filed her motion in June seeking to have the 1973 decision overturned.

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