For Right to Life
Thirty-five years after historic Roe v. Wade ruling, 'Jane Roe' is living for the Lord.
She never wanted to be famous. At least not this kind of famous — the kind that turns brother against sister and splits a nation asunder. She certainly never wanted to rewrite the law and with it, U.S. history, but her lawyers did, so they gave her a pseudonym. They called her "Jane Roe” — partly because “Jane Doe” was already taken, but mostly because if you’re going to be the one whose unplanned pregnancy is the impetus for arguably the most contentious court decision of the last 50 years, do you really want your neighbors to know? Do you really want to be the face of abortion in America?
In 1970, she signed an affidavit that made her the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit challenging the Texas law against abortion, then faded into the background while her attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, argued her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawyers never revealed her identity, and when the decision finally came in January 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on demand by a 7-2 margin, “Jane Roe” learned about the ruling like most Americans did — on the radio, and in the next day's newspaper.
We learned her real name, Norma McCorvey, in 1980. We also learned, in no particular order, that she was a former carnival barker, house painter, apartment manager and waitress; that she was never raped, as she had first claimed; and that she never had an abortion. The pro-abortion movement loved Jane Roe as a symbol, but McCorvey was far too rough around the edges to put up on the platform. Yet she needed money, so McCorvey took what she could get — speaking engagements at smaller pro-abortion events and a job at whatever abortion clinic would have her.
McCorvey was answering phones at the Dallas clinic A Choice for Women in 1995 when the pro-life group Operation Rescue moved into the office space next door. She tried trading insults with the pro-lifers, but they rebuffed her barbs with smiles, Scripture and an invitation to church. McCorvey quit her clinic job later that summer and announced her conversion to Christianity. Operation Rescue's national director, the Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham, baptized McCorvey in a Dallas swimming pool.
Citizen magazine first featured McCorvey more than 10 years ago (“Roe No More,” January 1997, pp. 10-12), and as pro-lifers mark the 35-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we decided to catch up with the woman who has spent the last decade working to overturn the decision that made her famous.
1. It’s been over a decade since your conversion — first to Christianity, then from pro-abortion to pro-life. What do you say to those who said it wouldn’t last?
(laughs) I say to those who don’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and by His blood and by His redemption, that you're missing the train. You should jump on the train and love the Lord, because He’s very good.
2. Both you and Sandra Cano — the plaintiff in the companion case before the Supreme Court, Doe v. Bolton — say you were coerced and manipulated by your lawyers.
Yes, we were. … I was a hippie. I lived in a park, I sold flowers on the street corner, and I worked for an underground newspaper and in drug trafficking. And Sandra Cano, she has a very tragic story, too. But she’s doing much better. She was baptized, I think, five or six years ago, into the Christian faith. She’s married now, and she’s taking care of her two grandchildren.
We testified together (in 2005) before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Brownback of Kansas. I’ve also testified for (former) Sen. John Ashcroft. I was up against one of the pro-abortion people who was saying that women should be allowed to have abortions because (carrying the baby) might interfere with their education, or it might interfere with their social life.
3. What is the best way to help a woman heal from the trauma of abortion?
I was just down in Mississippi not long ago, and I learned that a woman who was sitting on a nearby bench was post-abortive, times four. So, I went over there to her and I put my arms around her and I said, “Let me tell you something, sweetie. You know those children who you've lost to abortion?” She said, “Yes.” And I said, “You know that those children are waiting for you … and they're going to welcome you with open arms. They’re going to say, 'Welcome home, mama. We know that you made a mistake and we forgive you.’ ”
She wept a great deal. And I said, “Now let me see a pretty smile on that pretty face” … She said, “Well, I’m just so sorry.” And I said, “We were all deceived.”
4. You hit some hard times a couple years ago — to the point that you wondered if you were going to have money for groceries. How did that happen, and where did you turn?
I turned to a friend who had sent me a letter about his ministry. I had asked him to make a $20 donation to my ministry so we could go and buy some groceries. He said that he had 4,000-plus people on his e-mail list, and asked if he could he put out (my request) over the Internet.
About two days after the story came out here in Dallas, this man comes driving up (to my home) and he starts bringing in bagful after bagful after bagful of groceries. He looked at me, and I started crying. I was overwhelmed by his generosity. He said, “Miss Norma, I used to be a drunkard, and I used to be a drug addict, and I'm so glad that I can finally do something good to help you. Anytime you need my help, please let me know.”
5. What are you up to nowadays?
I want to lobby half a year and speak half a year. I want to tell young women who are considering abortion, please don’t. Talk to your parents. Talk to a post-abortive women. Go to your pastor, your priest, your synagogue. Go to a pregnancy center and get an ultrasound. Once they see that child in utero … they’ll know that they've been lied to. And that’s when the Lord kicks in and says, “Get out of the abortion mill.”
Monday, January 07, 2008
Pro-Life Hero Norma McCorvey