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Court won't rethink 'Mary Doe' abortion case

By Bill Mears
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Tuesday from a Georgia woman seeking to reverse a 1973 Supreme Court ruling giving her the right to an abortion.

Sandra Cano was part of the original series of landmark rulings from the high court legalizing the medical procedure. The justices without comment refused to reopen the case.

Cano, a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, was "Mary Doe" in the Doe v. Bolton appeal that was a companion argument to the more famous Roe v. Wade, both decided on January 22, 1973.

While the "Roe" opinion grounded first-trimester access to abortion in a constitutional right to privacy, Doe v. Bolton loosened medical requirements for those seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

Cano stated in her appeal that she had never wanted an abortion in the first place, had been living in an abusive relationship, and had been forced by her attorney to fight the abortion option in court.

The high court several years ago rejected a similar legal appeal from Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade. McCorvey, a resident of Texas, also sought to overturn the case that gave her the right to an abortion.

Since the McCorvey rejection, Sandra Day O'Connor, who generally supported access to abortion, has retired from the bench, replaced in January by Justice Samuel Alito. The change did not appear to make a difference in the latest challenge.

The Supreme Court denied several other legal appeals Tuesday. Among them:

  • In a victory for the federal government, the justices refused to intervene in the ongoing clean-up of Libby, Montana, which is contaminated by asbestos. W.R. Grace & Co. must continue paying a $54 million bill on a Superfund site run by the Environmental Protection Agency. At issue was whether federal officials have legal authority to order private companies to pay the entire costs of eliminating toxic waste sites.
  • Three smaller tobacco companies will be allowed to continue pursuing a lawsuit against 30 states that wanted them to be part of a $206 billion financial settlement over tobacco-related lawsuits. The Supreme Court decided not to intervene at this stage of the legal fight. At issue was whether the federal government has legal authority to intervene in state efforts to make all tobacco companies accountable for their marketing and advertising efforts on the dangers of smoking.
  • Next month, the justices will hear an important abortion appeal dealing with the federal ban on a late-term procedure critics call "partial birth." Three federal appeals courts have ruled the ban unconstitutional because it does not include a health exception to protect pregnant woman who suffer a medical emergency.

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    The Supreme Court rejected a request by a Georgia woman to reconsider the 1973 ruling granting her the right to an abortion.

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