WASHINGTON – The woman once known as "Jane Roe" has asked the Supreme Court to overturn its landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion (search) 32 years ago.
Norma McCorvey (search), whose protest of Texas' abortion ban led to the 1973 ruling, contends in a petition received at the court Tuesday that the case should be heard again in light of evidence that the procedure may harm women.
"Now we know so much more, and I plead with the court to listen for witnesses and re-evaluate Roe v. Wade," said McCorvey, who says she now regrets her role in the case.
The politically charged issue comes before the court as both sides gird for a possible bitter nomination fight over Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's replacement should the ailing justice retire this term. At least three justices, including Rehnquist, have said Roe v. Wade (search) was wrongly decided and should be overturned.
Two lower courts last year threw out McCorvey's request to have the ruling reconsidered.
But in a strongly worded concurrence, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge Edith H. Jones criticized the abortion ruling and said new medical evidence may well show undue harm to a mother and her fetus.
The last major abortion decision by the Supreme Court came in 2000, when the court ruled 5-4 to strike down Nebraska's ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortion because it failed to provide an exception to protect the mother's health.
Justices since then have shown little interest in wading back to the emotional issue.