The Jane Roe of ‘Roe vs Wade’ was really Norma McCorvey, but she can no longer be the poster child for the pro-abortion movement she once was, because she is a hallmark example — and given her role in the history of abortion law — an iconic example of God’s way of changing hearts.
McCorvey had a traumatic childhood. Her grandmother was a prostitute and her mother a violent alcoholic. When her parents divorced she was taken in and then raped by a relative. After an abusive marriage at age 16, McCorvey turned to alcohol and lesbian relationships. By the age of 21 she was pregnant for the third time and sought an abortion. However, state enforcement closed the abortion clinic before she could procure the abortion. This action became the basis for Roe vs. Wade because she had given birth when she did not want to. (She gave her baby up for adoption.) For the next twenty-three years she lived quietly with her lesbian partner, occasionally working in abortion clinics. A sympathetic interview with her, published in the New York Times on the occasion of her first book, ‘I am Roe’ (1994) gives a sense of those years, including death threats and shootings from ‘anti-abortion’ people.
The publication of the book occasioned her meeting an Evangelical pastor which led to her conversion to Christianity and a change of heart on abortion after seeing a poster which illustrated the stages of development of the fetus: “…something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth—that’s a baby!”
The rest of her story is one of a gradual deepening of faith and active prolife work. She appealed to the Supreme Court, based on standing, to overturn the outcome of Roe vs. Wade. After her conversion to evangelical Christianity she ceased her lesbian lifestyle and later sought entrance to the Catholic Church.
Her second book, ‘Won by Love’, (1997) retells the story from her new perspective on life. She died last February 18, 2017 at age 69.