By Dave Andrusko
When she spoke, Norma McCorvey would often say, “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” Norma, of course, was the “Jane Roe” of the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which, in tandem with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, unleashed the abortion machinery into whose maw 59 million unborn babies have already been heaved.
For those new to the Movement, for years the Supreme Court, including Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of both decisions, argued that the twin decisions were not in any sense revolutionary. But the exceptions in Roe fleshed out in Doe were so expansive, the decisions took away any and all guard rails. It was soon obvious the “right” to abortion had quickly careened into an unlimited right to abortion on demand.
Over time, Blackmun not only embraced the logic (for lack of a better word) of his decisions, but also came to see himself as nothing short of a liberator of women. Never especially humble, Blackmun was infuriated by the deplorables who were not educated enough to see the wisdom of his judicial train wreck.
Who were the two plaintiffs, Norma and Sandra Cano (the Doe of Doe v. Bolton)? Both were poorly educated women who lived highly dysfunctional lives. [Norma once described herself , “I am a rough woman, born into pain and anger and raised mostly by myself.”] They were perfect targets for the likes of highly educated pro-abortion women such as lawyers Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington who were trolling for women to challenge state abortion laws.
In a number of the obituaries I read about Norma, two subtexts stood out. #1. Typically it was not until the very end (if at all!) the reader learns that Norma later became a staunch pro-lifer.
Usually the obituary is accompanied by a photo of Norma with her attorney in front of the Supreme Court. But that picture came later, in 1989. She neither attended the oral arguments nor was at the High Court on January 22, 1973. She later said she read about the decision in the Dallas Morning News.
But the point is that the woman whose pseudonym is identified with unleashing abortion on demand took up the cause of life is left until the end, or omitted altogether. An inconvenient truth that runs counter to the pro-abortion narrative.
#2. A story over the weekend in the Dallas Morning News included this quote which, while underplayed, is pivotal to understanding how Norma was exploited:
In June 1998, to CNN, about abortion rights movement leaders [she said] “They could have been nice to me instead of treating me like an idiot.”
What leaps out at you is a phony-baloney faux-even handedness. Supposedly Norma was exploited by both pro-abortion and pro-life forces.
But, if you think about it, this fake news had to be included. If both sides were equally disdainful of Norma’s humanity–if she was just a prop to both sides–well, so much for pro-lifers who worked with, prayed for, and looked out for her for two decades.
Indeed, so much for the entire post-abortion ministry which is so important to our Movement. It also minimizes an important truth pro-abortion author David Garrow told the Los Angeles Times: Norma (rightly!) resented being “treated like poor, working-class, white trash” by pro-abortionists.
In a 2015 story I’m reposting today, I wrote about pro-life Catholic philosopher, author, and public intellectual Michael Novak who died last week, the day before Norma. It is fascinating to me to observe how often in the tributes people talked about how Novak’s powerful intellect had changed their minds–indeed, a kind of secular conversions on a number of topics which are not our subject matter. “Transformation” was a common description for his impact.
Norma was no intellectual. She was a hardscrabble woman whose home life was chaotic, both growing up and long afterwards.
But Norma was “Transformed by Love,” the title of a second memoir she wrote in 1997. A pro-lifer looked beyond the face Norma wore when she was working at an abortion clinic and Norma’s life was transformed. She became an ardent pro-lifer.
And in her transformation, she became a representative voice for the voiceless and a symbol of how the “abortion-rights movement” used her–and tens of millions of other women–and then tossed them away.
Please keep Norma McCorvey and Michael Novak in your prayers.