The makers of an upcoming documentary about Norma McCorvey claim they captured on camera the "Jane Roe" of the 1973 Roe v. Wade confessing on her deathbed that her turn to the pro-life movement was an "act."
"I'm a good actor," she said in the FX channel movie, according to its promoters.
Many prominent pro-life activists who knew her immediately spoke out, insisting that is not the Norma McCorvey they knew.
Now, they're demanding the filmmakers provide proof of their claim.
"Fact Check FX: your production doesn’t line up with the decades of friendship we personally shared with Norma. FX, we don’t believe you and want to see the raw footage," says a new letter to the film's creators.
The letter is to FX chairman John Landgraf and Nick Sweeney, who directed "AKA Jane Roe."
The letter, signed by a long list of pro-life activists, expresses doubt about "whether the whole story is being told."
The letter writers explained: "An overwhelming avalanche of evidence exists that Norma McCorvey's commitment to the pro-life cause was sincere, genuine and passionate. In light of such evidence (interviews, books, court documents, etc.), no statements in such a documentary could ever undo or reverse that commitment. Any attempt to characterize Norma as a less than genuine pro-life advocate by failing to balance statements she may have made to the film's director with that avalanche of evidence, reduces this film to nothing more than shameful, shallow sensationalism."
Their letter noted "caricatures" in the media are common and accomplished easily by "selective editing, outright omissions, and direct falsehoods."
"Norma was a woman who lived a complicated life and experienced many heartaches. She struggled to make her place in the world, but she never sought an abortion or had one, though the minds behind Roe v. Wade implied the opposite," the letter said.
"She regretted the way she was used in the case that ultimately carried her name. We know this because she said so, directly, to many of us. And as we personally know, she carried her pro-life convictions with pride and passion. And in a sworn affidavit, she affirmed her convictions, signing her name to this statement: 'I obviously advocated legalized abortion for many years following Roe v. Wade. But, working in the abortion clinics forced me to accept what abortion really is: It is a violent act which kills human beings and destroys the peace and the real interests of the mothers involved.'"
The letter said: "At the end of her life, some of us engaged with Norma and were able to spend time with her. This also makes us wonder about the broader context of the conversations presented in this edited documentary designed to shock and undermine her story. We ask for the unedited footage of the exchanges, to see for ourselves just what was left on the proverbial cutting room floor."
"The bottom line is that the woman we knew personally does not resemble the woman portrayed on FX, which is why we skeptically reject a production that came out after Norma’s death, when she couldn’t correct the record for herself and which contradicted her earlier statements. Fact Check FX: your production doesn’t line up with the decades of friendship we personally shared with Norma. FX, we don’t believe you and want to see the raw footage."
The Washington Examiner reported that in the film McCorvey states: "I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say. It was all an act. I did it well, too. I am a good actress."
Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion group Live Action, told the Examiner FX should release all the footage of its interviews with McCorvey in the interests of assessing "the accuracy of the documentary’s portrayal of her statements."
Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned anti-abortion activist, said that as with all things related to abortion, the film is a result of a political calculation.
"Of course, this is coming out now because of course, the abortion lobby needs a distraction right before the election,” she said. “The pro-life movement needs to stay focused.”
The Daily Caller quoted others who spent years working with McCorvey who scoff at the movie makers' claims.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said he knew McCorvey for 23 years, and "she spent more time fighting against abortion than she did in favor of it."
He said her position on abortion was not an act.
"The producers of this film obviously have an agenda. And so, you know, I think you have to view the so-called documentary in that light."
On Twitter, Janet Morana, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and executive director of Priests for Life, wrote: "#NormaMcCorvey was my friend. … She was not paid to be #prolife – how some documentary filmmakers got her to say so is suspicious, at the very least."
Frank Pavone, also of Priests for Life, said: "So #abortion supporters are claiming Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, wasn’t sincere in her conversion. … I was her spiritual guide for 22 years, received her into the #Catholic Church, kept regular contact, spoke (with) her the day she died, & conducted her funeral. Norma McCorvey went through pain and difficult healing of the wounds her initial support of the #abortion cause brought her."
Longtime pro-life activist Randall Terry, who has been arrested dozens of times for opposing abortion, said: "If they are saying her conversion to Christ, or the pro-life cause was not real, they did not know the Norma that I knew. What she said on tape at the end of her life is something we can discuss.
"Norma and I spent an enormous amount of time together. We told jokes, drank beer, shot pool, did shots on our down time, but when it was time to herald the message for the unborn, she was all in. She was arrested with us twice – once at Notre Dame to protest Obama getting an award, the other time during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. No one was paying her to get arrested … or to go through the hassles of the legal system. She did that because she believed. She stayed with my family for a month when she was in a rough spot. Obviously, we had a lot of time together at that time. I came to know her better than most people."
He said McCorvey was paid for public speaking engagements, explaining, "She had bills to pay, as we all do."