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… the “Roe” in 1973’s infamous US Supreme Court decision “Roe v. Wade.” I’d known Norma McCorvey became born-again sometime in the 1990’s, and shortly after an anti-choice activist. What I didn’t know was this…

the claim she has long made—that, in the days and years after Roe, she sought to remain anonymous, staying mum until a television interview 11 years later—is false. In reality, McCorvey publicly identified herself as Jane Roe four days after the decision. “It’s great to know,” McCorvey told the Baptist Press, a Nashville-based news service affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, “that other women will not have to go through what I did.” The Associated Press wrote a follow-up story on January 27 under the headline abortion reformer sheds “jane roe.”

… nor this …

On April 5, 1989, McCorvey made news again, telling reporters that she and Gonzalez had been shot at in their Dallas home. “I heard the shotgun blast go off in my sleep, like a crack of thunder in a bright blue sky,” McCorvey later wrote in I Am Roe. Gonzalez, she would recall, covered her with her body. (The shooters were never found and the police made no arrests.) Seated in a folding chair outside her home, Gonzalez puffed on a cigarette and maintained flatly that the shooting had never occurred. Their friend Susanne Ashworth was inclined to agree. With McCorvey, she said, “it was just drama.” She went on: “A story would be told one way, and three days later it would be completely different.”

… nor this …

Reportedly, the brunch at Baci was a benefit for the Jane Roe Foundation. But the foundation received no money. Rather, Allred told a reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner later that year, the funds had gone directly to McCorvey; the amount was never disclosed. (Allred says that she was at no time affiliated with the foundation, adding, “I wouldn’t raise money for an organization … and allow it to be siphoned off to an individual.”)

… but this, at least, wasn’t much of a surprise …

Charlotte Taft, the women’s-rights advocate, regrets that the pro-choice camp did not make McCorvey feel more needed or more special. And, she says, evangelical religion provided Norma with something the pro-choice movement could not: the comfort of absolute truth. “She got to know she is right,” says Taft.

There was something else in it for McCorvey, something practical. As Gloria Allred points out, “It’s a career choice as well.” After resigning her position at A Choice for Women and shuttering her second foundation, McCorvey helped to create a new Texas nonprofit, Roe No More Ministry, devoted to undoing all she had previously stood for. It was Roe v. Roe.

A few years later, according to a document in her files, McCorvey indicated that she was receiving a salary of $40,000 annually from Roe No More Ministries. In addition, Benham says he saw to it “that she and Miss Connie had enough money … maybe $200 a week.” McCorvey received more when Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher, bought the rights to retell her story, in 1997. “She got $80,000 from the book,” says Benham. “I helped work out that deal.”

If there’s one thing the anti-choice movement loves, it’s a symbolic convert. Renounce your prior sinful ways, and they’ll shower you with praise and gold. If this Vanity Fair article is accurate, that was exactly what Norma McCorvey was looking for.

 

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