WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 29, 2017 – Norma McCorvey (age 69), the real face of ‘Jane Roe’ of the Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade case, has died. In 1969 McCorvey was a homeless, divorced drug addict pregnant with her third child. The narrative created by the attorneys that took Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court was that McCorvey was seeking a legal abortion in the State of Texas claiming her pregnancy was the result of a violent rape.
McCorvey’s story is that she did not seek an abortion, but instead sought to put her child up for adoption, as she had her second child who was ultimately raised by the father, her first child being raised by her parents.
Instead of adopting parents, the adoption agency introduced her to Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington the two attorneys that had taken up the cause of legalized abortion by filing a class-action lawsuit against the state of Texas that eventually landed before the Supreme Court in the action .
“Coffee and Weddington fought for McCorvey’s right to legal abortion in the early stages of her pregnancy– which she claimed was a result of rape– in Dallas, Texas, and eventually the United States Supreme Court. The court’s decision came on January 22, 1973, and ruled in favor of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy under the constitutional right to privacy.”
However the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision was not based on how the child was conceived, but the choice of the woman. McCorvey’s, on the other hand, would be fodder for both sides of the pro-choice – pro-life movement and for the rest of her life as a reluctant public figure.
What many do not know is that McCorvey never had an abortion despite her role in the fight for abortion rights. Her pregnancy that initiated the lawsuit in the first place was carried to term and by the time the Supreme Court made its decision, her child was two-and-a-half years old.
In 1994, McCorvey told the New York Times she felt exploited by the pro-choice movement and her attorneys saying that
“[Weddington] saw these cuts on my wrists, my swollen eyes from crying– the miserable person sitting across from her, and she knew she had a patsy. She knew I wouldn’t go outside of the realm of her and [Coffee]. I was too scared. It was one of the most hideous times of my life … She needed me to be pregnant for her case.”
McCorvey said that at the time she truly did not understand the medical procedure of abortion, having been told by Weddington and Coffee that abortion just dealt with a piece of tissue, and that it was like passing a period rather than the termination of a human organism.
McCorvey, who dropped out of school at the age of 14 said that John Wayne movies talked about “aborting the mission,” so she thought it meant to “go back”—as in, going back to not being pregnant.
She honestly believed “abortion” meant a child was prevented from coming into existence, not that a life already begun was terminated.
McCorvey’s position change on abortion began in 1995, while working at a clinic next door to an anti-abortion group. She started talking with an Operation Rescue preacher Philip “Flip” Benham and McCorvey often recalled in interviews that Flip Benham was kind to her and they became friends leading her to attended church, eventually becoming baptized.
The face of legalized abortion stunned the pro-choice world by going on national television to say that she believed abortion was wrong. McCorvey said that the empty playgrounds in her neighborhood, once teeming with kids, was the result of what she once called “my law.”
However it was one seven-year-old child, Emily Mackey, who had almost been aborted, that truly changed her mind. Through what McCorvey called a “combination of truth and grace” Mackey shared the gospel of Jesus with her and McCorvey became pro-life converting to Christianity.
In February 2005, bringing McCorvey v. Hill to the Supreme Court, McCorvey advocated for the Supreme Court to rescind its 1973 ruling based off evidence claiming abortions proved harmful to women. McCorvey argued that she had the right to petition because she was one of the original parties in the court’s decision.
The court denied her request for appeal.
While Norma McCorvey has passed into history, her alter ego, Jane Roe, will continue to be a part of the religious, political and personal right’s story for generations to come.