Norma McCorvey with Emily - the little girl whose
love changed Norma's life
In 1970, Norma McCorvey, under the pseudonym "Jane Roe," filed a
law suit challenging the Texas laws that criminalized abortion. The
case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court as the now-famous
Roe v. Wade. The "Roe" of that case is described as a
pregnant woman who "wished to terminate her pregnancy by an
abortion 'performed by a competent, licensed physician, under safe,
clinical conditions'; that she was unable to get a 'legal' abortion
in Texas. . . . She claimed that the Texas statutes were
unconstitutionally vague and that they abridged her right of
personal privacy. . . ."
The true story, as Norma McCorvey tells it, is more complicated.
She describes herself as having been relatively ignorant of the
facts of her own case, and claims that her attorneys simply used
her for their own predetermined ends. They "were looking for
somebody, anybody, to use to further their own agenda. I was their
most willing dupe." She had indeed become pregnant with her third
child and sought to end her pregnancy, but she was not aware of all
the implications of abortion or even what the term itself meant.
"'Abortion', to me, meant 'going back' to the condition of not
being pregnant." She did not fully realize that this process
would end a human life. She says that her attorney Sarah
Weddington, rather than correcting her misconceptions, deliberately
confused the issue: "For their part, my lawyers lied to me about
the nature of abortion. Weddington convinced me, 'It's just a piece
of tissue. You just missed your period.'"  Another problem was that
Norma claimed that her pregnancy was the result of a gang-rape, in
order to present a more sympathetic picture. As she has since
admitted, this was totally untrue.
Norma states that her actual involvement in the case was
minimal. She signed the initial affidavit without even reading it,
and "was never invited into court. I never testified. I was never
present before any court on any level, and I was never at any
hearing on my case . . . I found out about the decision from the
newspaper just like the rest of the country."
Norma never had an abortion. She gave her baby up for
For several years, Norma was silent about her role as "Jane
Roe." In the 1980's, "in order to justify my own conduct, with many
conflicting emotions," she became involved in the abortion movement,
making public appearances in support of abortion. Around 1992, she
began to work at abortion clinics. As Norma explains, "I had no
actual experience with abortion until that point," becoming "even
more emotionally confused and conflicted between what my conscience
knew to be evil, and what the judges, my mind and my need for money
were telling me was OK."
When Norma was working at a clinic in Dallas in 1995, a pro-life
group moved into the same building, leading to a series of dramatic
encounters between Norma and pro-life activists. At first she was
bitterly opposed to their presence, but over time she became
friends with many of them and began to have serious doubts about
the morality of abortion.
She was particularly affected by her friendship with Emily
Mackey, the 7 year-old daughter of one of the pro-lifers. She began
to realize what abortion was doing to children. "Abortion was no
longer an 'abstract right.' It had a face now, in a little girl
named Emily." Eventually (due in large part to Emily's
she started going to church, and began to reject her past
involvement with the pro-abortion movement.
Since her conversion she has dedicated herself to pro-life work,
starting her own ministry, "Roe No More," in 1997, and continuing
to speak out against abortion and for life. In 2003 she went to
court in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. Her case was
dismissed by the Fifth Circuit appeals court; however,
one of the judges of the case wrote a concurrence that was strongly
critical of the Roe decision. The U.S. Supreme Court
subsequently denied review. In 1998 and 2005 she testified before
Congress about the injustices of abortion and the deceit underlying
Roe v. Wade.
McCorvey, Norma (with Gary Thomas). Won by Love.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.
This is Norma's
autobiography, in which she describes her experience as part of the
pro-abortion movement and relates how she converted to Christianity
and became "100% pro-life."
"The 25th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Has It Stood the Test of
Time?" Hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Federalism, and Property Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
105th Congress, 2nd Session (January 21,
A Congressional hearing
that discusses the Roe decision. Senator John Ashcroft
(R-MO) presided. Norma McCorvey was among those who testified.
"The Consequences of Roe v. Wade and Doe v.
Bolton." Hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution
of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 109th Session (June
23, 2005) Congress, 1
hearing focused on the consequences of the Roe and
Doe decisions. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) presided.
Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano ("Doe" of Doe v. Bolton)
were among those who testified.
Marie v. McGreevey , 314 F.3d 136 (3rd Cir.
2002) (Originally Marie v. Whitman).
In this case a group of
women claimed that they had been given abortions without their full
consent. They argued that the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act, which
did not allow them to collect damages for the wrongful death of an
unborn child, was in violation of their equal protection and due
process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. An amici
curiae brief filed with the court on behalf of 11,179 women,
including 386 post-abortive women, describes the faulty legal
premises of Roe and the resulting harm. See Amici Curiae
Brief of 11,719 Women on behalf of Appellants in Support of
Reversal of the Trial Courts Granting Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal
District Court's dismissal of the case. The U.S. Supreme Court
subsequently denied review. Marie v. McGreevey, 539 U.S.
McCorvey v. Hill, 385 F.3d 846 (5th Cir.
This was a suit brought
by Norma McCorvey, asking the courts to reverse Roe v.
Wade. She presented over a thousand affidavits of women who
had suffered in some way from abortion. She argued that
Roe should be reconsidered in the light of developments
since Roe (e.g., the knowledge that the fetus feels pain
at a very early stage of development). Her motion to reopen the
case was ultimately denied in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit, on the grounds that the case was "moot." The Texas
laws criminalizing abortion "have, at least, been repealed by
implication," rendering their constitutionality a dead issue. The
U.S. Supreme Court subsequently denied review. McCorvey v.
Hill, 543 U.S. 1154 (2005)
McCorvey v. Hill, Norma McCorvey submitted an
affidavit (June 11, 2003) to the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (Civil Action No.
3-3690-B and No. 3-3691-C). Norma carefully explains how she became
involved in the Roe v. Wade case and how her later work at
abortion clinics led her to understand that abortion "is a violent
act which kills human beings and destroys the peace and the real
interests of the mothers involved."
Links to Important
1. Testimony of Norma McCorvey before the Subcommittee on the
Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights of the Senate
Judiciary Committee (January 21, 1998).
2. Testimony of Norma McCorvey before the Subcommittee on the
Constitution of the Senate Judiciary Committee (June 23,
3. Affidavit by Norma McCorvey (June 11, 2003) before the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division
(Civil Action No. 3-3690-B and No. 3-3691-C) in the case of
McCorvey v. Hill.
4. Concurring Opinion by Judge Edith Jones in the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 5th Circuit in the case of McCorvey
v. Hill (September 14, 2004).
 Roe v.
Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973), 120.
McCorvey's testimony before Congress in 1998. See: "The 25th
Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Has it Stood the Test of Time?:"
Hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism,
and Property Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
105th Congress, 2 nd Session (January 21,
 Affidavit of
Norma McCorvey (June 11, 2003), in McCorvey v. Hill (U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division,
Civil Action No. 3-3690-B and No. 3-3691-C).
 See Norma
McCorvey's testimony before Congress in 1998 as well as her
testimony at the 2005 hearing, "The Consequences
ofRoe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton:" Hearing before
the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, 109 th Congress, 1st Session (June
 Affidavit of
Norma McCorvey, in McCorvey v. Hill.
McCorvey's testimony before Congress in 2005.
McCorvey with Gary Thomas, Won by Love (Nashville: Thomas
Nelson Publishers, 1997), 155-56.
McCorvey v. Hill, 385 F.3d 846 (5th Cir. 2004).
McCorvey v. Hill , 543 U.S. 1154 (2005).
notes 2 and 5 above.