‘Jane Roe’ of Roe v. Wade Dies

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 18, 2017   

Pro-life Catholic Norma McCorvey has passed away at age 69

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KATY, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion, passed away quietly Saturday at the age of 69.

Finding herself pregnant with another child in 1971, McCorvey had never actually wanted an abortion. But an ambitious feminist attorney named Sarah Weddington made McCorvey the posterchild for the abortion lobby, using her case to argue not only that Texas' pro-life laws should be overturned, but that all such laws throughout the United States should be declared unconstitutional.

I think it's safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie.

The result was Roe v. Wade, a case that has resulted in the murder of as many as 60 million unborn children over the last 44 years.

They "were looking for somebody, anybody, to use to further their own agenda," McCorvey said. "I was their most willing dupe."

"For their part, my lawyers lied to me about the nature of abortion," she went on. "Weddington convinced me, 'It's just a piece of tissue. You just missed your period.'"

 
McCorvey had endured a difficult life, suffering abuse as a child, and struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, along with sexual promiscuity. Decades after Roe, she admitted to having lied about being gang raped in order to obtain an abortion — a lie used by Weddington to argue her case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
 
McCorvey never actually ended up having an abortion, giving birth to three children: "At the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion, but truth be told, I have three daughters and never had an abortion."
 
A 1994 Seattle Times profile notes:

First — shaking, sick to her stomach and fortified by vodka and Valium — she told a Dallas television reporter she was Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade, the anonymous pregnant plaintiff whose case led to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Next, she admitted she had lied about that pregnancy in the hope it would help her get an abortion: It was a casual affair that made her pregnant, not rape as she told her Roe lawyers.

And, little by little, through occasional interviews, sporadic speaking engagements and a 1989 television movie, she revealed that before she gave birth to the Roe baby and gave her to adoptive parents, she had given birth to two other children (one adopted, she believes, by its father; the other adopted by McCorvey’s mother). 

McCorvey worked for 20 years as an abortion advocate, but admitted in a later autobiography that her job at an abortion mill left her so disgusted that she only got through each day self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.


In 1995, she experienced a conversion after encountering the group Operation Rescue. She became a Christian, was baptized on television, and wrote a book on her life titled Won by Love. From that moment on she began to fight to undo the work she had done for the abortion lobby, becoming a pro-life activist.

"I think it's safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie," McCorvey said in an ad. "I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name."

In 1997, McCorvey launched an initiative called Roe No More, and went on to give multiple pro-life speeches and appearances. She also sued the federal government to reverse Roe, arguing that abortions cause long-term emotional harm. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case in 2004.
 
In 2009, McCorvey was arrested on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for protesting President Obama's appearance. A few months later she was also arrested for disrupting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's nomination hearings.
 
I started getting cold chills right before I went up for my first Holy Communion.
 
Through her encounter with Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, as well as other faithful priests, McCorvey converted to Catholicism in 1998, received into the Church at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Dallas, Texas. She recounts the day in her own words:

I did not want this day to be a media event. No part of my journey of conversion was for the media; it was for God. I did not want distractions, or a distortion of the day's true meaning. So it was a small and intimate gathering, with about 60 people who have been close to me. My sponsor was Lynn Mills, a pro-life activist from Detroit. Five priests concelebrated the Mass, including Fr. Ed Robinson, Fr. Frank Pavone, and Fr. Jonathan Austin, who was assigned to St. Monica's parish.

I made my profession of faith standing before these five priests, and Fr. Frank placed the oil upon my forehead, signifying the strength of the Holy Spirit and imparting the Spirit's gifts that come in Confirmation. Then the Eucharistic Sacrifice was offered.

I had been taught what this meant. Jesus was not dying again. Rather, He was drawing us all into His sacrifice, making it present to us, allowing us to join our lives, our sufferings, to His. This was and is the sacrifice that saves the world, that conquers the power of death and destroys the power of abortion. There and then I could place in the chalice all the tears I had ever shed over the aborted babies, all the shame I ever felt from having worked in an abortion clinic and having been a poster-girl for the pro-death movement. There and then, just as the bread and wine were being transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, the former Jane Roe could once again rejoice in her own transformation into a new creature in Christ.

"I started getting cold chills right before I went up for my first Holy Communion," she continued. "I knew somehow that it was Holy Spirit. Then when I received the flesh of Christ's body and his blood, I felt a real sense of inner peace."
 
In the last years of her life, McCorvey kept a low profile, maintaining a more private life. She passed away from a heart ailment Saturday in an assisted living home in Katy, Texas. She is survived by her daughter Melissa and two grandchildren. 

 

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Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is executive producer and editor-in-chief at ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1