NRL News

Sandra Cano: RIP

by | Oct 2, 2014


Her case and Roe v. Wade handed down the same day in 1973

By Dave Andrusko

The following photo appeared on Sandra Cano's Facebook page. (Left to right) Ms. Cano, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of the original NARAL and later a pro-life convert, and Norma McCorvey (the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade)

The following photo appeared on Sandra Cano’s Facebook page. (Left to right) Ms. Cano, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of the original NARAL and later a pro-life convert, and Norma McCorvey (the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade)

My only meeting with Sandra Cano, and it was very brief, was in June 1989 at the National Right to Life Convention in Minneapolis. Those who spent much more time with her–my then-assistant Leslie Bond [Diggins] and NRLC Convention Director Jacki Ragan—told me that a kinder, gentler woman you will never find.

Unlike Norma McCorvey—the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade—Sandra Cano (“Mary Doe”) was not nearly as well known, although her case—Doe v. Bolton—was decided the same day as Norma’s.

Neither woman—whose cases were instrumental in legalizing abortion on demand nationwide—ever had an abortion. Cano never wanted an abortion. Both felt terribly victimized by the pro-abortion attorneys that used them to undermine the abortion laws of all 50 states.

Cano died September 30. She was 66.

Allan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation in Texas, which represented Ms. Cano for 14 years, said her dying wish was for people to “pray for the end of abortion in America and pray for her family.”

I am reprinting the story Leslie wrote for the July 13, 1989 issue of National Right to Life News. She had interviewed Sandra one-on-one.

At that stage of her life (we were to learn), Ms. Cano was deathly afraid of public speaking. She was seated at the head table at one of the convention General Sessions when she suddenly got up, walked down the risers, and told Jacki she had to go home. But her presence at our convention, however brief, sent a powerful message.

But in the years to come Sandra gave more than a few memorable interviews, including one with Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register.

Both Sandra and Norma had lived hardscrabble lives, making McCorvey and Cano just the kind of down-on-their-luck women the elitist pro-abortion attorneys could use unmercifully to gut the protective abortion statutes of all 50 states. Both came to be firmly on the side of life.

When pro-lifers speak of putting a “human face” on the abortion controversy, it is not just to remind people that a human life is lost in every abortion. Abortion exploits vulnerable women, then and now. Cano’s and McCorvey’s journey that culminated in an embrace of our Movement is deeply symbolic of a wider cultural shift in our direction.

I asked Jacki if she would write a concluding paragraph. As I knew it would be, her words were perfect.

“We did have a video that we recorded of her when Leslie and I were with her. I still have that. 25 years have passed but we still kept in touch, more so after Facebook. She was a kind, trusting, woman who was reunited with the daughter she placed for adoption (the one the pro-aborts used to help legalize abortion) and I believe was happy and content for the last years of her life. Sandra will be missed. Her gentle smile, her softspoken voice, and her love of the Lord.”

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at Send your comments to

Categories: Pro-Lifers