The May 22 documentary on FX titled “AKA Jane Roe” that has left many pro-lifers reeling and confused, didn’t take me by surprise.
I’ll admit, I was a little disturbed by the raw footage and deathbed confession of Norma McCorvey in her final months of life, but from what I know of the woman whose case was used by attorneys to defend legal abortions for women nationwide, the controversy she has stirred up is nothing out of the ordinary.
The piece began with Norma admitting “I like attention” and quoting the 3rd act of Macbeth, “Life is but a stage.” She shared memories of her dysfunctional childhood with choice words for her own mother.
At age 10 she ran away with her best friend and began to explore homosexuality. She was confronted by police and disciplined harshly at home. At the age of 15 she was sent to an all-girl reform school and then lived with a “relative” who sexually abused her over time. She never told her mother of the abuse and lived with thoughts that she was different and alone.
“I felt like I was out in the cold.”
Still a teenager, she became pregnant with a man who left her as soon as he learned of the pregnancy. That child was carried to full term and then “taken away” by her mother, who claimed Norma could not care for a baby.
Within a couple years, she was pregnant again, this time falsifying a rape claim. Norma admits to living as a street person at that time, abusing drugs and alcohol. She found a place “underground” to have an abortion, but left after realizing how dirty the place was.
It was at this time she met Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, young attorneys looking for just the right plaintiff whose case could go before the Texas legislature to legalize abortion in the state.
Although Norma did not abort her second child, but placed her for adoption, she became the anonymous Jane Roe whose fabricated story would legalize abortion nationwide in January of 1973.
Most of this background I already knew about Norma. She wrote her own story in 1998, “Won By Love”, shortly after her conversion to Christianity and a change of heart regarding abortion. Before that time she had already shared the truth that her second pregnancy was not due to a rape at all.
I honestly tried watching the documentary with an open mind; I wanted to understand Norma McCorvey a little better. What I learned in the viewing, though, is that abortion is such a polarizing issue on every level.
Although subtle, the film was produced from a largely pro-choice perspective, most contributors siding with legal abortions and reveling in Norma’s confession that she really never turned pro-life at all; it was just an act that was well-paid.
I find it very interesting that Norma passed away in February of 2017 and the documentary is just now being aired, during a heated election-year, nonetheless.
I know that my position as the director of a pro-life pregnancy center blows any cover I might have in this debate, but I try to maintain an unbiased opinion when thinking of the individuals caught in the crossfire.
Don’t get me wrong – I boldly take my stand on the side of life and I believe with all my heart that abortion is murder – but I also know that leading with that will not win over any hearts that are troubled about this matter.
When I consider Norma McCorvey, AKA Jane Roe, I see a woman who was often easily influenced, not sure where she belonged. My heart breaks for this person who never really fit in and was used by so many.
While she liked the attention, I can only imagine that she struggled on the inside with genuine acceptance and love. At first, she seemed to find it with those in favor of abortion who needed her story to advance their cause. Later, she experienced it with pro-lifers who wanted to share with the world her change of heart.
We may never really know exactly where Norma fell on the side of legal abortion. She admits lying on several occasions, after all.
What I do know is that God sees to the heart of each and every complicated individual. Regardless of what side we fall on, He knows our motives, our fears, our doubts. He understands what we deal with because He clothed Himself in flesh, took the form of a man, and walked this earth with a plan to redeem every soul.
I hope that Norma finally understood this truth, but I’m afraid she spent much of her life trying to realize it and that breaks my heart.
“AKA Jane Roe” seems to deliver a direct blow to the pro-life movement, but those on the side of life will not be deterred.
Regardless of where you stand, you lose if you don’t acknowledge the basic truth that every life matters, from Norma McCorvey to the child in the womb to even those on the battlefield. Rather than fight dirty, Instead of fighting, let’s learn to love.
Let’s remember our very lives are a gift from God and show love without motive to every life we encounter.
Sherry Weller is Executive Director of the New Life Clinic in Wilmington.