The name “Jane Roe” has become synonymous with “abortion.” It is revered by those who call themselves “pro-choice” and strikes a chord of sorrow in “pro-life” camps. And though Roe v. Wade has been cited and debated countless times in the nearly 30 years since its decision by the Supreme Court, Jane Roe, the famous plaintiff, has been all but forgotten.
A Christian since her conversion in 1995, Roe’s real name is Norma McCorvey, and her life is dedicated to her ministry called “Roe No More.”
In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily last week, McCorvey shared her life story and explained how she was “used” by pro-abortion attorneys in their quest to legalize the procedure.
At the age of 21, McCorvey was pregnant with her third child. She had given her other two children up for adoption and McCorvey did not want to say goodbye to her offspring a third time. She decided to have an illegal abortion, but the Dallas clinic she went to had been recently raided and shut down. So McCorvey made up a story — she had been raped, she told her doctor and two lawyers. She signed an affidavit on condition of anonymity, and the lawsuit began.
“After finding myself pregnant,” McCorvey told WorldNetDaily, “I considered abortion and, because of this, I was put in touch with two attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. They had just recently graduated from law school and were interested in challenging the Texas abortion statute.”
Describing how she was viewed by the pro-abortion community, McCorvey said, “Plain and simple, I was used. I was a nobody to them. They only needed a pregnant woman to use for their case, and that is it. They cared, not about me, but only about legalizing abortion. Even after the case, I was never respected — probably because I was not an ivy-league educated, liberal feminist like they were.”
In a 1994 New York Times interview, McCorvey describes her meeting with the young attorneys, with whom she had a rocky relationship.
“Sarah (Weddington) sat right across the table from me at Columbo’s pizza parlor, and I didn’t know [then] that she had had an abortion herself,” she said. “When I told her then how desperately I needed one, she could have told me where to go for it. But she wouldn’t because she needed me to be pregnant for her case. I set Sarah Weddington up on a pedestal like a rose petal. But when it came to my turn, well, Sarah 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 Linda. I was too scared. It was one of the most hideous times of my life.”
The relationship with Weddington was not unique as McCorvey began meeting other pro-abortion activists.
“My experience with pro-abortion leaders is that they are snobs. They claim that they care about women and their rights but, in my experience, they care for nothing, not even themselves in a way,” she told WorldNetDaily.
McCorvey, the name Norma took as a result of her short-lived, teen-age marriage, grew up poor and felt unloved by her mother. She has a ninth-grade education, was a drug and alcohol abuser, and has taken jobs as a carnival worker and house cleaner. As the Roe v. Wade trial progressed up the judicial ladder, the plaintiff never saw the inside of a courtroom as “Roe.” She says she was told she didn’t need to be there. It was only after the Supreme Court made its decision in 1973 that she began to follow the ramifications of the case. By that time, McCorvey’s third child was 2 years old.
McCorvey never had, nor has she ever had, an abortion.
For many years, McCorvey preferred to remain the anonymous “Roe,” but in 1980, she broke her silence and gave an interview to a Dallas television reporter. Through subsequent interviews, she revealed that she had lied about the rape — an important point in the fact pattern of the Roe v. Wade case. She became a pro-abortion speaker and was hailed as a hero due to her suffering for the cause.
McCorvey said in a 1990 New York Times interview that the rape lie caused her to be “terribly depressed.”
“I was brought up not to lie and, because of this story, I had to lie all the time. And the depression periods got deeper and longer until the night I cut my wrists,” she told the Times. McCorvey made several suicide attempts and eventually received psychiatric help.
A few days after the 1990 interview, she was given an honorary degree from the New College Law School of San Francisco “in recognition of your courageous refusal to allow Texas politicians, religious fundamentalists or Supreme Court justices to deprive women of their autonomy and human dignity.”
It was also in prior interviews that McCorvey revealed her homosexual lifestyle. Though she had been pregnant three times, she had relationships with women as well, including one partner she lived with for nearly two decades.
The Times article was written by Joseph N. Bell, who conducted an interview with “Roe” shortly after her case was decided. Bell praised McCorvey for her openness in declaring her homosexual lifestyle and continued pro-abortion activities. His article concludes, “It’s been a long journey to this place for Norma McCorvey, and we almost pushed her over the edge half a dozen times. But she survived and grew and finally emerged into the sunlight of honest self-awareness. She’s one of the lucky ones — and I’m very glad I could be in on both the beginning and end of this journey.”
But Bell wasn’t even close to the “end” of McCorvey’s amazing journey — her stance on homosexuality has changed.
“It is my belief that homosexuals should be accepted with compassion,” she said last week. “At the same time, I firmly believe that they should not have any special rights, including the adoption of children.”
Her feelings about abortion and “religious fundamentalists” would be changed as well in 1995, when she encountered Pastor Phillip “Flip” Benham, who brought Operation Rescue to the abortion clinic at which McCorvey was then working. O.R. had moved into a neighboring office space and protested for several months outside the clinic. In her written testimony, McCorvey tells of a particular conversation she had with Benham in the middle of an Operation Rescue demonstration.
“During one friendly banter, I goaded Flip, ‘What you need is to go to a good Beach Boys concert.’ Flip answered, ‘Miss Norma, I haven’t been to a Beach Boys concert since 1976.’ The seemingly innocuous response shook me to the core. All at once, Flip became human to me,” she writes. “Before, I had thought of Flip as a man who did nothing but yell at abortion clinics and read his Bible. In fact, I even pictured him sleeping with his hands across his chest, Dracula-like, with a big Bible tucked under his arms. The thought that he was a real person — a guy who had once even gone to a Beach Boys concert — never occurred to me. Now that it had, I saw him in a new light.”
McCorvey summarized her conversion experience to WND: “Simply put, it was the love and persistence of two small children: Emily and Chelsea Mackey.”
Her written testimony elaborates on the experience. “As my mind was challenged to consider the truth of the Gospel, God began working on my heart through a 7-year-old girl named Emily, the daughter of O.R. volunteer Ronda Mackey,” she wrote. “Emily’s blatant affection, frequent hugs, and direct pursuit disarmed me. The little girl’s interest was all the more surprising considering Emily made it very clear that her acceptance of me wasn’t an acceptance of my lifestyle.”
The girl’s “childlike faith cut open my heart,” McCorvey explained, “making me receptive to the truth being shared by the adult volunteers at Rescue. I wasn’t won over by compelling apologetics. I had a ninth-grade education and a very soft heart. While the O.R. adults targeted my mind, Emily went straight for the heart. And over time, Emily began to personify the issue of abortion — especially when Ronda broke down and told me that Emily had almost been aborted.” McCorvey eventually accepted one of Emily’s invitations to church, and the activist’s life would never be the same.
Now a member of the Catholic Church, McCorvey devotes her time to “Roe No More.” According to its mission statement, the Dallas-based ministry “strives to network pro-life speakers throughout the nation in order to provide a base of educational and informational speakers and presenters for organizations who wish to promote the sanctity of human life and the message of love and forgiveness.”
Since her conversion to both an anti-abortion position and Christianity, McCorvey is no longer sympathetically portrayed in the establishment media. In fact, she’s no longer portrayed at all. There were a handful of stories in 1995 when McCorvey announced her change of heart but, since then, if she is mentioned at all, it is only to put a name on the once anonymous “Roe.” McCorvey used strong words to characterize her treatment by the media.
“I would say the media’s criticism is more harsh now that I am ‘on the other side.’ My experience with ‘big’ secular media outlets is that they don’t report, they share their opinion. They are obviously pro-abortion and in many ways aren’t dedicated to the truth,” she said.
McCorvey did appear Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes,” where host Sean Hannity gave McCorvey a forum to tell her story. During the Fox interview, McCorvey repeated what she told WND and had written in her testimony — that she had been “used.”
Asked if she felt abortion defenders championed her rights and best interests in Roe v. Wade, she responded, “I firmly believe that the only ‘champions’ of this whole situation are the women who have been lucky enough to not be aborted since Roe v. Wade was handed down. The national pro-abortion organizations or, as I call them — National ‘want to be women’ [organizations] — keep demanding more and more. Take, for instance, partial-birth abortion. They simply can’t get enough of ‘killing their young.’ My only response to them is, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
That humble attitude is reflected in her voice and demeanor. “Miss Norma,” as she is called, was most gracious to this reporter, who found her caring and conviction both profound and inescapable. Asked what she would say to “Roe” of 1973 if she had the opportunity, McCorvey put herself in the position of talking to “Roe” before signing the affidavit that began the historic case.
“Excuse me, Miss Norma, but you should read that paper and really consider not signing it. Millions of women to come after you will suffer; they will be depressed; they may even try to take their own life because, you see Norma, abortion is the taking of a child’s life — a life that is from God,” she replied.
In addition to her efforts to discourage abortion, McCorvey most recently expressed her support for Attorney General John Ashcroft. During his confirmation hearings, McCorvey endorsed a petition designed to put grass-roots pressure on the Senate to approve President George W. Bush’s choice for the post.
“John is a nice and caring man and, in my experience, one of the best public servants we have in this nation,” she said the day of Ashcroft’s confirmation. “I met him in Tennessee in 1997 and testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1998. I am glad to hear today of his confirmation as attorney general of the United States. The fact of the matter is that he cares — he cares not only for the unborn but also about the dignity of public service. I would like to ask his critics when a religion or one’s Christian ethical beliefs became a test for public service.”
While she publicly supported Ashcroft, McCorvey’s main focus is convincing people that abortion is wrong. In an e-mail to WorldNetDaily, she said, “I am glad that today many people, and those that proclaim belief in Christ and the Christian church, are waking up and noticing the right to life of the unborn and [that] Roe MUST GO!!”