A Woman to Know: Norma McCorvey

I just wanted the privilege of a clean clinic to get the procedure done. - Norma

(That's Norma on the left, with her attorney Gloria Allred in 1989. Image by the Associated Press)

Norma McCorvey was "Jane Roe." That's the Roe. Of Roe v. Wade. The landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, 43 years ago today.

When Norma first took her case to court in Dallas, she was a 21-year-old woman with a problem: no job, no husband, and no home. Pregnant with a third child, she confessed to her mother that she was attracted to women — and her mother kicked her out. Texas's abortion restrictions allowed termination only in cases which endangered the life of the mother. Norma went to court. By the time the case was decided in a landmark victory, she had given birth to her baby. She put it up for adoption.

"I'm a simple woman with a ninth grade education who wants women to not be harassed or condemned," she told The New York Times in 1995. "I just never had the privilege to go into an abortion clinic, lay down and have an abortion. That's the only thing I never had."

Just one year later, another New York Times profile told a different story: in a highly-publicized baptism (yes, a literal baptism), McCorvey was reborn in the public eye as a devout evangelical. She disavowed her lesbianism and began working as an anti-abortion organizer.

Now, she publicly calls for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. "It's a career choice," lawyer and friend Gloria Allread told Vanity Fair.

*~For more on Norma and the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, check out a version of today's newsletter published in The Washington Post. Thank you to Lisa Bonos and Camille Kilgore for editing! ~*

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