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Former Abortion Plaintiff Reunited With 22-Year-Old Daughter

December 11, 1989 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ A woman who was the anonymous plaintiff in one of two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion said she hopes never to be separated from her 22-year-old daughter now that the two are reunited.

″I told her she’s just going to have to plan on being with me the rest of her life,″ said Sandra Cano, who had a tearful reunion with her daughter, April Takier of Tacoma, Wash., at the Atlanta airport Saturday.

The two were separated 20 years ago before Mrs. Cano, then Sandra Bensing, became plaintiff ″Jane Doe″ in Doe vs. Bolton, the lawsuit that successfully challenged Georgia’s abortion law.

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The Supreme Court used her case to strike down the law on Jan. 22, 1973, the same day the court struck down Texas’ abortion law in the more famous case labeled Roe vs. Wade.

Mrs. Cano later decided not to go through with the abortion, and gave birth to Melissa. She gave her up for adoption in 1970.

Mrs. Cano was reunited with Melissa, 19, earlier this year and found her son Joel, now 23, in 1977.

The reunion with April leaves only one of her four children still missing: a daughter, whom she named Lisa before she gave her up for adoption in 1969.

″As long as she’s missing, there’s still part of me missing,″ Mrs. Cano said of Lisa. ″But I have nowhere else to look.″

Mrs. Cano said her two older children, Joel and April, had been taken from her in 1969. She said she lost custody of the children after a dispute with a sitter and ″because of me being young and naive.″

Mrs. Cano, who lives in suburban Atlanta but has declined to give her hometown, said she tried to regain custody of the children and finally got Joel when he was 11.

She was unsuccessful in her attempts to find April until the week after Thanksgiving. Ms. Takier called, saying she had been trying to find her mother since being abandoned by her adoptive family as a teen-ager.

She said she remembered that her name originally was Bensing and that she was adopted in Georgia, so ″my roommate and I sat down and all we did was start calling all the cities all over Georgia looking for a Bensing.″

″We couldn’t find that, so we looked for Alva and Eva Smith, my first foster family. I got their number and called her, and she had my grandma’s phone number and my grandma had my mom’s phone number.″

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She said she didn’t recognize her mother at their reunion Saturday, but ″my brother looks exactly like I remember him.″

Ms. Takier said she plans to stay in Georgia indefinitely and will seek work as a lab technician.

″I cried″ when she saw her mother, she said. ″I didn’t know what to say. I’m so happy, so excited.″

Mrs. Cano has changed her position on abortion and has become a spokeswoman for anti-abortion groups in the years since Doe vs. Bolton.

She said last week that she plans to increase her involvement in the anti- abortion movement now that she has most of her family back.