Norma McCorvey, AKA "Jane Roe" in the landmark Roe v. Wade case, turned on pro-choice groups in 1995. She revealed she was paid to do so by evangelical groups.
The landmark Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 set a precedent for a pregnant person's right to choose in the United States. The case, which to this day prompts national debate about reproductive rights, was a major win for pro-choice advocates across the country. In new footage from the documentary AKA Jane Roe, Norma McCorvey, known as "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade case, has alleged that she was paid to switch sides from pro-choice to pro-life, the BBC reports. McCorvey explained in a "deathbed confession" as she calls it, that she only became an anti-abortion activist because she was paid off by evangelical groups.
Wow: Norma McCorvey (aka “Roe” of Roe v Wade) revealed on her deathbed that she was paid by right-wing operatives to flip her stance on reproductive rights.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2020
So, like many right-wing operations, it turns out a huge part of the anti-choice movement was a scam the entire time. https://t.co/XBwvPKmSqU
McCorvey, who originally filed a case against an anti-abortion law in Texas, shocked the country when she came out in opposition to free and unfettered access to abortion in 1995, over two decades after the Supreme Court ruling. Almost overnight, she claimed to be staunchly pro-life. Now, in the documentary set to air later this week, she reveals that she was paid off in order to change her initial stance. "I was the big fish," she says. "I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they'd put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That's what I'd say. It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress. Of course, I'm not acting now." She added, "If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that's no skin off my ass. That's why they call it choice."
The documentary (filmed prior to her death in 2017) tells McCorvey's story, covering in detail her "troubled, impoverished" childhood and her life as a survivor of sexual abuse. It also documents her longstanding relationship with girlfriend Connie Gonzalez. Even after McCorvey was converted to become a born-again Christian and disavowed Gonzalez, the couple continued living together. Reverend Robert Schenck, who also features in the production, was one of the evangelical pastors who worked with her after her conversion in the mid-1990s. He confirms that she was indeed paid for her television appearances on the movement's behalf. "I knew what we were doing," he says. "And there were times when I was sure she knew. And I wondered: 'Is she playing us?' What I didn't have the guts to say was: 'Because I know damn well we're playing her.'" Schenck estimates that she was paid as much $500,000 in current figures.
I was conflicted about appearing in this film, but I’m sure glad I did. You’ll see me express deep regret for how movement leaders like me treated Norma McCorvey “Jane Roe” of Roe v Wade. Please watch: AKA Jane Roe | Official Trailer [HD] | FX https://t.co/I0XCoKzNzB via @YouTube pic.twitter.com/x8BFXbK8cE— Rev Rob Schenck (@RevRobSchenck1) May 17, 2020
The series of events leading up to McCorvey's pivoting is complicated. In 1969, McCorvey discovered she was pregnant with her third child. She attempted to legally abort her pregnancy, to no avail. Pushed by desperation, she even claimed she had been raped as she was under the wrongful assumption that exceptions would be made for pregnancies involving sexual assault. Then, she tried to obtain an illegal abortion, only to shortly discover that the clinic she had been referred to had been shut down by the police. Eventually, she was put in touch with Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, both lawyers who wished to challenge abortion laws. They filed a case on her behalf. Sadly, the case remained undecided by the time McCorvey gave birth. She placed her third child up for adoption.
Over the following five years, McCorvey took the case all the way to the Supreme Court where, in a seven to two vote, the case was settled in favor of "Jane Roe." The Supreme Court affirmed, "The Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." The ruling was widely celebrated. Therefore, her sudden opposition to abortion confused Americans. McCorvey may no longer be with us but we finally have the answers we were looking for all along.