Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017, was the plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the 1973 landmark supreme court case Roe v Wade that led to abortion becoming legal in the United States, made, it turns out, a stunning deathbed confession.
In a new FX documentary McCorvey admits that her infamous reversal on abortion rights “was all an act”. Before she died at the age of 69, she revealed that her role as an anti-abortion advocate was largely funded by ultra-conservative groups such as Operation Rescue.
In 1969, a 22-year-old McCorvey was pregnant and scared. She’d had a difficult childhood, allegedly suffering sexual abuse from a family member. She’d been married at 16 but had left her husband. She had addiction issues. She’d had two children already and placed them for adoption. She was depressed. She was desperate for a safe and legal abortion. Texas, however, wouldn’t give her one. So she challenged the state laws and her case eventually went before the US supreme court, legalizing abortion across America.
After becoming the poster girl of the pro-choice movement, McCorvey performed a very public about-face in the 1990s. She found religion and became a vocal anti-abortion crusader.
As it turns out, it wasn’t God himself directing this new path. It was leaders from the evangelical Christian right. McCorvey received at least $456,911 in “benevolent gifts” from the the evangelical Christian right in exchange for her “conversion”.
“I took their money, McCorvey says in the documentary, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. It was all an act. I did it well, too. I am a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.”
The Rev Flip Benham, one of the evangelical leaders featured in the new documentary, has no moral qualms about how McCorvey, who was clearly vulnerable, was used. “She chose to be used,” he says. “That’s called work. That’s what you’re paid to be doing!” Ah yes, I remember reading that in the Bible: thou shalt pay others to cravenly lie.
The Rev Rob Schenck, another of the evangelical leaders featured, is rather more thoughtful. “For Christians like me, there is no more important or authoritative voice than Jesus,” he says. “And he said, ‘What does it profit in the end if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?’ When you do what we did to Norma, you lose your soul.”
Sadly, it seems as though many anti-abortion extremists don’t have much of a soul to lose in the first place. While the right claims to stand for morality and family values they – as AKA Jane Roe makes very clear – are more than happy to lie and cheat in order to propagate their fringe beliefs. Most Americans, on the other hand, have moderate views when it comes to abortion; according to a 2017 Pew study, 69% of Americans don’t think Roe v Wade should be overturned, only a small but powerful group of hypocritical extremists with money who preyed on a vulnerable woman in the name of “family values”. (Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian, lightly edited for length).
My comment: Forcing women to have unwanted babies is a grievous sin against humanity, potentially breeding yet more deeply unhappy, unloved human beings . We need more happy, adjusted young people, not fewer. And that is without the effects on the lives of the mothers.