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Plaintiff in Prominent Abortion Case Reunited with Last Missing Child

December 9, 1989 GMT

......................................................................... (AP) _ A woman who was the anonymous plaintiff in one of two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion said Friday she will be reunited with the last of the children taken from her 20 years ago.

Sandra Cano, who was identified as Mary Doe in Doe vs. Bolton, said her 22- year-old daughter April will fly to Atlanta from Seattle on Saturday. It will be their first meeting in more than 17 years.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Doe vs. Bolton, which struck down Georgia’s abortion law, was issued Jan. 22, 1973, the same day the court struck down Texas’ abortion law in the more famous case labeled Roe vs. Wade.

Earlier this year Sandra Cano was reunited with the daughter involved in that case. Mrs. Cano said she gave that child, Melissa, up for adoption in 1970 after deciding not to go through with the abortion.

Mrs. Cano, of suburban Atlanta, noted that two older children, a son Joel and a daughter April, had been taken from her a year before that. She said she lost custody of the children after a dispute with a sitter and ″because of me being young and naive.″

Mrs. Cano, whose name was Sandra Bensing at the time, said she tried to regain custody of the children from the family they had been placed with and finally got the boy 12 years ago, when he was 11. She has not seen the girl, however, since 1972.

Child welfare officials thought it best that the family not be reunited. ″Family and Children Services just kept telling me she was happily adopted and to let her alone,″ Mrs. Cano said in a telephone interview.

She said she managed to track the adoptive parents to Columbus and then Denver, but hit a dead end eight years ago. In November, a week after Thanksgiving, April called.

Mrs. Cano said her daughter told her she had been trying to find her mother since being abandoned by her adoptive family and placed in a mental hospital at age 14.

She said her adoptive father, who refused to have anything to do with her, was the one who finally told her to contact Georgia social services, leading her to her birth mother.

Now that she has her family back, Mrs. Cano said, she plans to increase her involvement in the pro-life movement. Because of her connection to the court case and her present stand against abortion, she has been invited to represent the anti-abortion position on talk shows and at meetings.

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After she identified herself as the case’s Mary Doe in February, she said, her car was shot at, two trucks were stolen and graffiti was scrawled on another vehicle.

She and her husband moved out of Atlanta to a suburb, she said, declining to identify their hometown.

″I’m going to start coming out, start speaking out and being more active now, because we’ve got the children back,″ she said. ″Not many people get that second chance.″