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'Roe' Seeks to Overturn Historic Abortion Ruling

The "Roe" of the landmark Roe v. Wade (search) Supreme Court decision is asking the nation's highest court to overturn its 1973 ruling that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

On the 33rd anniversary of her initial lawsuit, which resulted in the high court's historic ruling three years later, Norma McCorvey (search) announced Tuesday she will petition the court to reopen the original case, based on changes in law and technology over the last 30 years.

"I'm sorry that I signed that affidavit," McCorvey said during the press conference Tuesday, referring to when she became the plaintiff in the original case.

She said the court case "brought the holocaust of abortion" but that with her legal action Tuesday, "I feel good about myself, I really do. I feel like the weight of the world has really been lifted off my shoulders."

McCorvey made the announcement at the Ferris Plaza Park in Dallas, just blocks from the Earl Cabell Federal Building, where the original lawsuit was entered.

"I long for the day that justice will be done and the guilt from all of these deaths will be removed from my shoulders," McCorvey said in a statement announcing the intent of the motion. "I want to do everything in my power to help women and their children.

"The issue is justice for the unborn, justice in this case because it was fraudulent, and justice for what is right."

McCorvey filed the motion with the federal district court in Dallas, which ruled to legalize abortion in Texas before the Supreme Court ruling. The Texas attorney general's office and Dallas district attorney each have 20 days to respond to the motion.

But abortion-rights groups think McCorvey won't get far in her legal battle.

"I don't believe that the courts are going to take this seriously in any sort of legal framework," said Planned Parenthood (search) spokeswoman Elizabeth Toledo. "We know that the majority of Americans still support the right to choose and for reproductive freedom for women."

"It has no chance because the Supreme Court has endorsed and reinforced Roe v. Wade consistently since it came out in 1973," agreed Fox News' senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.

More technology exists now than it did 30 years ago, McCorvey told Fox News Tuesday, such as three-dimensional sonograms that can show women that the fetus growing inside of them is viable.

Whereas the argument over when life begins was a philosophical one 30 years ago, it now is a scientific one that says life begins at conception, McCorvey said.

"We're just trying to warn women that they do have other alternatives to abortion," McCorvey told Fox News.

"There's is no doubt there's an enormous wealth of info we have now in 2003 that we did not have in 1973 … that cannot be ignored," Olivia Gans of the anti-abortion group, National Right to Life (search), told Fox News Tuesday. "The overwhelming majority of Americans are deeply troubled" at the number of abortions completed every year, she said, putting that number at 1.5 million.

There were 1.3 million abortions performed in the U.S. in 2000, the last year statistics were available, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit corporation for reproductive health research. In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than six in 10 said they oppose completely overturning Roe v. Wade.

After arguing the pro-choice side of the abortion debate for years, McCorvey in 1995 converted to Roman Catholicism and is now 100 percent pro-life.

"I'm not anti-abortion, I'm pro-life," she said.

McCorvey and more than 1,000 other women who have had abortions are including statements in the petition to the court on how abortions have affected their lives.

Among the effects, the women say they: became alcoholics; "hated life in general," were "unable to bond with anyone;" suffered from depression, various medical problems, years of mood swings and eating disorders, panic disorder and promiscuity, post-abortion syndrome; "felt empty inside;" "lack of ability to deal adequately with true love and sex in marriage;" went to therapy for anger and other symptoms; and "I'm always thinking about my unborn child."

McCorvey's lawyer, Allan Parker, lead attorney for the Texas-based Justice Foundation (search), said recent changes in law make the court's decision no longer just.

"Why do women have abortions? Because they don't think they can take care of the child," Parker told Fox News.

"I believe with all my heart that it's time for the country to re-examine the social experiment that was abortion," Parker said.

He said it often takes years for women to feel and realize the effects abortion has on them.

"For many women, it takes 10 or 15 years of denial before they finally recognize what they've done before they finally seek counseling," he said.

But it will take more than just another bout of legal wrangling to shatter the opinion of many Americans that what a woman does in her private life should be in her control, Toledo argued.

"I think most people agree that preventing unintended pregnancies should be a priority in our healthcare systems," she said. "I think the place where people depart is the intrusion of government and politicians ... intruding into our own personal decision making."

McCorvey began her association with one of the most controversial issues in this country in 1970, when she became "Jane Roe," the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed to challenge the anti-abortion laws in Texas.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which handed down its controversial ruling on Jan. 22, 1973. The decision legalized the right to an abortion in all 50 states.

McCorvey, who was 21 when the case was filed and was on her third pregnancy, never had an abortion and gave birth to a girl, who was given up for adoption. In the 1980s, McCorvey went public with her identity and wrote a book about her life titled I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice.

Although there have been many challenges to Roe v. Wade in the past 30 years, McCorvey's legal team says her case is different because the plaintiff is actually asking for the case to be overturned.

Under certain rules of law, parties can seek relief from an earlier court order that is no longer supported by law.

Parker cited a 1997 decision in the case of Agostini v. Felton, in which the Supreme Court used a post-judgment motion by the plaintiff to overturn the original decision. In the original case decided in 1985, the court prohibited New York City from allowing public school teachers to teach in parochial schools.

Twelve years later, petitioners -- some of which were teachers bound by that injunction -- wanted the decision dropped, saying laws and educational policy passed since then made legal what the original injunction was designed to prevent. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court allowed public school teachers to tutor private school students in their private schools.

Napolitano said, however, that that decision only allows prevailing litigants to ask for a rule change if they were the only ones affected by the original decision.

"The result of Roe v. Wade is that millions and millions and millions of women learned that abortion was available to them," he said. "The court would never allow one litigant to change the law of the land."

McCorvey's legal team claims there are three major arguments to reopen and overturn the case:

• There is more evidence being submitted proving the harmful effects of abortions on women now that should outweigh McCorvey's single, original testimony 30 years ago arguing for abortion.

• The question of when life begins has been answered by scientific evidence within the past 30 decades.

• Various "Baby Moses" laws in 40 states say the states will take care of a child if the mother cannot, providing an alternative to abortion.

Fox News' Mike Tobin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.