Roe No More: Plaintiff in Supreme Court Abortion Decision Dies. Reflections from a Friend

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Publication Date: March 24, 2017

On February 18, 2017, Norma McCorvey, who was the plaintiff  "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, died at the age of 69. Norma had become a good friend of mine since 1995, when she accepted the gift of faith and baptism and became 100% pro-life. I was privileged to be one of her spiritual counselors and in 1998 received her into the Catholic Church. I also had the privilege of officiating at her funeral service.

The first time I interviewed Norma McCorvey  for our radio program,  I said  to her, “So you are the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade.”

“No, Father,” McCorvey responded. “I was the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade, but now I am a new creation in Christ. I am Roe no more!”

And it was true.  The poster girl for the Roe v Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortion wanted nothing to do with the notorious decision that forever changed the landscape in America. In fact, after over 28 years of guilt-induced drug binges and various jobs in abortion clinics in an attempt to justify her involvement in the legalization of abortion, Norma McCorvey did the unthinkable. In the words of a friend, "The poster girl jumped off the poster and into the arms of Christ.” .

She jumped off the poster, because she never really fit on it to begin with.

When two activist lawyers from Texas, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, were looking to overturn the Texas abortion statute in 1969, they saw an easy target in pregnant Norma McCorvey. In the end, Norma signed on the dotted line, making her the plaintiff in an abortion suit against the State of Texas. This case would later evolve into Roe v. Wade.

Norma never appeared in court and never had an abortion. When she heard about the outcome of the Roe case, she was not elated, but devastated. Even though she was supposedly the inspiration for the case for legal abortion, she confided to the pro-abortion leaders that she thought abortion was wrong. In fact, even while working in an abortion clinic, she would counsel women against it.

One day she’d had enough. She literally walked out the door of the abortion clinic where she was working and knocked on the door of the national office of the pro-life organization next door-Operation Rescue. It was the catalyst of her Christian journey.

Norma was baptized by Flip Benham and gave her life to God soon after. Feeling a need to share her personal message, Norma founded Roe No More Ministry in 1997 with the mission of exposing the lie that is Roe v. Wade. But her journey was just beginning. .

“After I was baptized by Rev. Flip Benham, his friend Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, visited me to bring me the best wishes of the Catholic Community...I  told him I was interested in joining the Catholic Church. He invited me to attend one of the Masses he offered at a Dallas parish, and answered some of the many questions I had about the Mass.”

Norma’s pull towards Catholicism came after a series of dreams where Jesus was calling her home. She was worried it meant she was dying and she afraid to go to sleep at night. But one day it clicked. Jesus was calling her back to the church of her youth.

Norma's faith journey eventually led her home, as she describes it, to the Roman Catholic Church. She was received in 1998 where I was honored to confer upon her the sacrament of confirmation.

In her book, Won By Love, Norma recounted my words to her that day and her reflection on them.

Today, you have received the very same flesh of the Son of God, to which all humanity has been joined. That means, Norma, that today, in giving you His Body, Jesus has also given you back all the babies that were aborted because of what you did. He has reunited to you all the children who never got to play in the playgrounds. He has restored them to you, closing the distance between you and them. He has reconciled them to you and given you peace.

“During these remarks, I was sitting there crying,” said Norma. “I knew I had been forgiven -- and to think I was reunited with those children…it was sorrow and joy at the same time. It was like having my own children come back to me all at one time. It was like seeing all their faces, even though I've never known them”.

Norma dedicated the rest of her days on earth towards evangelizing and reversing what she was a part of over four decades ago. Although she would have liked to have seen Roe reversed in her lifetime, I have no doubt that her prayers and example will bring about the reversal of Roe v Wade in ours.

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