Jane Roe

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Norma McCorvey became pregnant by her boyfriend in 1969. She said she had been raped, thinking that this would make it possible for her to get a legal abortion. But Texas law then permitted abortion only to save the life of the mother. She and various pro-abortion organizations used her case to challenge the Texas abortion law in court, finally reaching the Supreme Court in 1973. The court documents all referred to her as "Jane Roe" to protect her privacy (though many years later she came forward). Henry Wade was the district attorney for Dallas County, Texas, who defended the law. Thus the case is known as "Roe versus Wade". In its decision, the Supreme Court declared that all state laws restricting or limiting abortion were "unconstitutional", and so legalized abortion on demand throughout the United States.

Ancient history? Not exactly. On July 22, 1995, Jane Roe / Norma McCorvey became a born-again Christian and a pro-lifer.

In early 1995 Miss McCorvey was working as marketing director at a Dallas abortion center, "A Choice for Women". On February 1, Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that engages in peaceful (though sometimes illegal) protests, opened an office in the same building. At first McCorvey, along with other workers at the abortion center, would not speak to the Rescue people (except for obscenities).

This was a no-smoking building, so when Miss McCorvey wanted to smoke, she had to go outside. Flip Benham, a minister and the president of Operation Rescue, would hang around and chat with the smokers. Flip and Norma discovered they had much in common: they were the same age, they had both been part of the hippie culture in their youth, etc. They gradually became friends, and pretty soon Norma was spending a lot of time chatting with the Rescue people. Rhonda, one of the workers at the office, sometimes brought her children with her, and Norma soon made a regular habit of coming by to hug the kids.

One day she stopped by the Rescue office and asked Rhonda's 7-year-old child if she'd like to go with her to make some copies. While Rhonda was nervous about the idea of her 7-year-old going off with this women, she did not object. While they were out, the little girl asked Norma if she'd go to church with them that Sunday. Amazingly, she agreed.

She continued to attend the independent Bible church. On July 22, she became a born-again Christian.

The Rescue people tried to keep it quiet as long as possible to shield her from the media. But when she was baptized on August 8 it became clear that word was about to get out, so on August 10 they released the story.

In early press conferences the media leaped on her, looking for flaws in her story. She said she was pro-life. The reporters pressed her, asking about this or that special or extreme case, and she backed down and made some pro-abortion statements. This, of course, made the media gleeful, sometimes using these quotes to report that she is "still pro-choice", sometimes combining quotes to show that she is contradicting herself.

The reality, of course, is that at the time of these interviews she had only been a pro-lifer and a Christian for three weeks. She has not necessarily worked out all the details of her new position. (If you've never stood in front of a hostile crowd throwing questions at you with no time to think about your answers, believe me, it's not easy to be completely logical and consistent.)

It is interesting to compare the image of pro-lifers that one normally gets from the media, with the image one gets from this incident. Many people become pro-life because they have carefully examined the scientific and ethical issues involved and come to the conclusion that the pro-life position is the only rational one. But that isn't how Norma McCorvey got here. Norma McCorvey became pro-life and a Christian because her pro-life "enemies" showed her more friendship, love, and genuine concern than her pro-abortion "friends".

Pray for Norma McCorvey. She has a tough time ahead.


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Posted 12 Sep 2000.

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