Roe v. Wade: Who was Jane Roe?
The name has become synonymous with the legalization of abortion in the 1973 Supreme Court case known as Roe v. Wade.
Most Americans now know, to some degree, what the decision and aftermath of the Roe v. Wade ruling involves; however, the story doesn’t end with the court’s decision.
For Jane Roe, who never appeared in court and found out about the decision by reading it in the newspaper, life would never be the same. “Roe” is more than just a court case, more than just a pseudonym. Jane Roe was a person with a remarkable story, which still shows God’s redemptive power today.
Norma McCorvey was an unmarried, pregnant, 22 year-old Dallas resident when she filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the District Attorney of Dallas County, under the name “Jane Roe.” McCorvey was pregnant with her third child when she filed her legal challenge to Texas’ state law making abortion illegal, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
McCorvey’s lawsuit claimed she became pregnant as a result of rape, which the Texas state law made exceptions for cases of rape and incest.The case’s journey through the court system took three years, starting in 1970 and ending in the Supreme Court in 1973. McCorvey continued her case battle even after she'd given birth and placed her baby for adoption.
After the court case ended, McCorvey’s journey reflected someone searching for purpose.
In the 1980s, McCorvey revealed herself as Jane Roe and began acting as an abortion-rights activist and working at a Dallas area abortion clinic. That’s where she met Reverend “Flip” Benham, whose Operation America ministry moved in next door to the abortion clinic where McCorvey was working.
According to the Washington Post, a personal confession from Benham is what turned the tables in his relationship with McCorvey. Benham admitted to telling his wife to have an abortion, a story he also shared for a Dallas Morning News profile previously. McCorvey was shocked by the authenticity of his admission.
In 1995, Benham baptized McCorvey as a public expression of her personal belief in Christ. After her conversion, the woman that had been the name of the legalization of abortion became a pro-life advocate.
McCorvey started an anti-abortion ministry known as “Roe No More” and later was arrested as a protestor to the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court under Barack Obama.
McCorvey even filed a motion asking that the decision in her original case be overturned. The motion worked its way to the Supreme Court before being denied in 2005.
McCorvey passed away in February 2017.
While her life is most remembered for the court case that she began looking for an abortion that she would never get, she ultimately found peace through her relationship with Christ. By interacting with believers who started in an adversarial position to hers, but that ultimately led to their sharing their stories and helping “Roe” find her faith. Through her faith, McCorvey came to work against the abortions she had helped to legalize decades previously.