Norma McCorvey, ‘Roe’ in Roe v. Wade, is dead at 69

The woman behind the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, has died at an assisted living facility in Texas at age 69, the Washington Post reported.

The Dallas woman didn’t get one, but four years later, her lawsuit fighting Texas’ ban on abortion reached the Supreme Court and made the procedure legal across the United States. McCorvey, then known as Jane Roe, was the plaintiff in the 1973 lawsuit that made abortion a constitutional right with a 7-to-2 Supreme Court ruling.

Norma McCorvey was born September 22, 1947, in Simmesport and lived there for part of her childhood.

McCorvey later became a fervent abortion opponent, converting to evangelical Protestantism and then Catholicism.

McCorvey, a high school dropout, was unemployed, impoverished and some nights homeless and pregnant with her third child when she sought an abortion.

“We are saddened to hear of Norma’s passing, yet we are eternally grateful for her courageous pro-life witness that she fully embraced”, said Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz.

HERSHER: Speaking in 1994, McCorvey explained her experience as Jane Roe this way. Nothing is known about the children McCorvey gave up for adoption. Or at least, she and two ambitious female attorneys did.

The Times noted that McCorvey remained anonymous in the wake of the landmark ruling, but about 10 years later began counseling patients at a women’s clinic in Dallas.

MCCORVEY: I really thought that they would take all this information down and take it to the Supreme Court and say, OK, guys, you know, Norma McCorvey down here in Texas wants to have a legal abortion.

In her 1997 autobiography Won by Love, McCorvey describes an encounter she had with a young woman at a pro-choice march, who’d allegedly had five or six abortions and told McCorvey how “cool” it was that she could continue to do so legally.

But she did a dramatic U-turn and later spoke out on behalf of abortion critics as a born-again Christian. Although the details of her account were legally unimportant, abortion foes pointed to the lie to discredit Ms. McCorvey and her case.

As the court case progressed, McCorvey gave birth and gave her daughter up for adoption. “She spent the rest of her life trying to undo and make better for women following in her footsteps”, said Sue Swayze, with Indiana Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List. While she was working at an abortion clinic in Dallas, Operation Rescue set up shop right next door. Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, concelebrated the Mass and placed the oil on her forehead to call down the Holy Spirit in confirmation.

In the 1980’s she was still pro-choice, at least outwardly.

In 2013, actress Erin Way recalled to Vanity Fair, a lunch she had with Norma McCorvey two years prior.

Since the ruling, it is estimated that around 50 million legal abortions have been performed on women in the USA, although later court orders have imposed some restrictions on the availability of abortion.

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