Norma McCorvey, the pro-life movement’s most unlikely convert, died Saturday in Katy, Texas. She was 69.
McCorvey, best known as the anonymous 21-year-old “Jane Roe” in the Texas case that led to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand in every state, never had an abortion herself. She converted to Christianity in 1995, became a Catholic in 1998 and an outspoken opponent of abortion for the rest of her life.
Approximately 60 million unborn babies have been aborted in America since 1973.
Prolife leaders responded to news of her death by noting how her life had been transformed.
“I am deeply saddened at the loss of our dear friend Norma McCorvey,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. “She spent the better part of the last 25 years working to undo the terrible Supreme Court decision that bears her name. “Her work was not in vain. Norma became an inspiration for so many, and we at Operation Rescue work every day to achieve her goal of ending abortion in America.”
“Norma’s story will live on,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and longtime friend of McCorvey. “It is a story of hope. If she can convert, and find forgiveness from her involvement with abortion, then anyone can. And if she could say one thing right now to the world, I’m convinced it would be, “Learn my story, and have hope.”
In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily in 2001, 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.”
Following the Supreme Court decision, McCorvey led a private life, not publicly revealing her part in the divisive case until 1994. Over the years she worked in abortion clinics, “trying to please everyone and trying to be hardcore pro-choice,” she told Time magazine.
McCorvey’s unlikely conversion occurred in 1995 when Flip Benham, then-head of Operation Rescue, opened an office near on of her clinics and befriended her. It was a conversion that attorney Weddington viewed suspiciously, dismissing her as someone who “really craved and sought attention.”
Weddington issued no statement Saturday on the death of the client who made her famous.
“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 in 2001.
While McCorvey was used, ignored and then shunned by pro-abortion advocates, the pro-life community embraced her.
“While pro-abortion advocates used Norma McCorvey to advance their efforts to legalize abortion in the early 1970s, she spent the last half of her life attempting to right the terrible wrong that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion visited upon the country,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“Norma became an outspoken advocate for protecting the lives of mothers and their unborn children, speaking at right-to-life events across the country, including the National Right to Life convention. Norma McCorvey was a friend and valued ally in the fight for life and she will be deeply missed.”
Asked by WND’s reporter in 2001 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.