Norma McCorvey aka Jane Roe died last week at age 69.
Although her pseudonym is forever linked to the Supreme Court decision to make abortion legal, her story remains largely untold. For example, Miss Norma, as she preferred to be called, never had an abortion. And she deeply resented being used and discarded by the feminist movement.
As she wrote in her book Won by Love, Norma was pregnant, addicted, and underemployed in Dallas when she approached attorney Sarah Weddington to procure an abortion in Mexico. Weddington disclosed she had done so herself three years earlier and said could help. But she also convinced Miss Norma to let her take her case to the Supreme Court. She gave a vague response when Norma asked about the timing and her due date.
Once Norma allowed her pseudonym on the affidavit, she only heard from Weddington four months after she had given birth and placed her daughter for adoption. Norma said of that betrayal and exploitation,
“I was chosen because they needed someone who would sign the paper and fade into the background, never coming out and always keeping silent.”
In the aftermath, Norma worked for a time in an abortion business, not because she believed in it, but because she needed work and pro-choice feminists were still willing to exploit her, as she put it. Operation Rescue moved in next door and a little girl named Emily led Miss Norma to church, and into the arms of Jesus. She then became an advocate for life, dedicated to ending what she felt she had started—the deaths of tens of millions of innocent human lives.
Miss Norma and I met through phone calls and emails in 2003 when I invited her to speak at a conference to help women after abortion. I also interviewed her on WCCO Radio.
I was very new to the pro-life world, and my primary motivation in organizing the conference was to share the joy I had found through redemption in Jesus Christ of my own abortion. As we talked, Miss Norma urged me to tell her my story.
And when I got to the moment of truth, she stopped me cold.
I related how I had been completely detached, steeling myself, until a nurse took my hand right before the procedure was to begin. I said how that woke me up that what I was doing was wrong. But I went along with it–lost and overwhelmed and without support.
“Oh, Miss Kim,” she said, “That wasn’t a nurse. I used to stand and hold hands too. The purpose of that job is to hold the woman in place because so many do try to get up and leave at the last minute. If they leave they may ask for their money back and that’s bad for business.”
I’m so grateful she shared that. The non-nurse-who-doesn’t-actually-care is such a powerful metaphor for the entire abortion industry today. It cost Miss Norma something to admit her participation in all of that. And after she confessed, together we prayed.
I never did get to meet her in person. Before our conference Miss Norma called to report a conflict as she’d been invited to testify before the Parliament in Uruguay. She said,
“I hate to cancel, but I’m weighing whether to come to your event or possibly save a continent from abortion.”
After a dramatic pause I joked, “I’m thinking . . .”
We laughed and that was my last conversation with her.
I thought of her in 2012 when Uruguay’s legal protection of children before their births fell to legalized abortion in the wake of the Zika virus. I wonder if Miss Norma would say that was only a pretext the feminists exploited to get their abortion product to market.
After all, she had used a lie about gang rape in her affidavit before Roe. She said that lie was one of her greatest regrets because it opened the door for abortion as birth control, or as they say today: without apology, on demand.
By far Miss Norma’s lasting impression, though, is one of hope. She said that even though she felt personally responsible for every child lost to legal abortion, because of her faith in Jesus Christ she could claim Psalm 34:5,
“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”