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Who is Norma McCorvey?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 23, 2024
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Norma McCorvey is a name that a lot of people don’t recognize, even though McCorvey is famous, or perhaps infamous, depending on how you look at her situation. Most people know Norma McCorvey by a different name, or an alias, which is Jane Roe. Yes, she is the Jane Roe who was the plaintiff in the controversial abortion case, Roe v. Wade.

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court answered a challenge against abortion law in Texas and determined that abortion was a constitutional right based on privacy. The case essentially legalized abortion in all 50 states, despite the fact that many call it “bad law” and believe that abortion should be a state’s rights issue. The pro-choice movement saw it as a victory, although Norma McCorvey never had an abortion. She was no longer pregnant by the time the case was heard, having given birth to a daughter who was given up for adoption.

Interestingly enough, Norma McCorvey, the woman who once called Roe v. Wade, “my law,” has since had a change of heart. While working in an abortion clinic and fervently supporting abortion, she met her nemesis — and future friend — in a man named Flip Benham. Benham led an anti-abortion group called Operation Rescue, which moved in near Norma McCorvey's office. Heated debates and protests ensued, but McCorvey eventually began to understand the group’s beliefs. She converted to Christianity and then to the pro-life movement.

It was a little girl named Emily, the daughter of an Operation Rescue staffer, who Norma McCorvey ultimately credits with her conversion. Despite the fact that she disagreed with McCorvey, the child showed her love, acceptance, and friendship. It was far more than Norma says she received from those whom she feels used her as a “pawn” to further their agenda. She believed that they were more concerned with abortion than they ever were with her.

The attorneys who furthered the case argue that Norma wanted an abortion at the time, but that Roe v. Wade wasn’t really about McCorvey in the first place. For them, it was never about an individual but about securing abortion rights for women in general. Norma McCorvey was simply a woman who was at the time experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and was willing to sign an affidavit and become the head plaintiff in the lawsuit. She now deeply regrets having taken part in it.

Having worked inside the abortion industry, Norma McCorvey no longer sees abortion as “freedom” for women. She says she saw money rolling in, exploitation, and rhetoric more than she saw safe or caring treatment for women in crisis. Norma McCorvey has written a book called Won by Love, that details her journey from being Jane Roe to starting her own pro-life outreach called the Roe No More Ministry.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By BoatHugger — On Mar 10, 2011

@cmsmith10: According to the Norma McCorvey bio, Norma McCorvey was born in Simmesport, Louisiana. She was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness in Houston, Texas. When she was very young, her father left and her parents divorced. A violent, alcoholic mother named Mildred raised her. Her father died in 1995.

When she was 14 years of age, she dropped out of high school and married two years later. However, she claimed that her husband, Woody McCorvey, was abusive to her. She left him when she was pregnant with their first child. The following year, McCorvey was pregnant again. This baby was given up for adoption.

McCorvey returned home to live with her mother. However, her mother disowned her when McCorvey confided in her that she was attracted to women. Her mother took custody of her granddaughter at that time.

By cmsmith10 — On Mar 07, 2011

I have to do a report on Norma McCorvey. I am looking for a little more biographical information on her. Does anyone know anything about her as a person, not as a court case?

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