I met Norma McCorvey in 1995 after she had been baptized in a backyard pool by Rev. Flip Benham, then of Operation Rescue. We became friends – not just acquaintances who connected once in a while at pro-life events, but friends. She stayed at my home in Staten Island. I stayed at hers in Dallas. She talked me into buying a cowboy hat. I overnighted bagels to her.
Was she lying to me the whole time – 22 years – about her pro-life conversion? Was she acting when I spoke to her an hour before her death and she asked me promise to continue fighting to overturn the unjust and tragic decision made in her name?
No. I know in my soul that she wasn’t.
For “AKA Jane Roe” – a new documentary that apparently has footage of Norma saying her pro-life conversion was bought and paid for – to suggest that our friendship were based on a lie is offensive and absurd.
For a film crew to sweep in at the end of her life and try to rewrite what we lived through for 22 years is heartbreaking. Norma was a person who was deeply wounded and who struggled to find healing and peace. I saw it through two decades of ups and downs of her wrestling with her own pain.
Norma’s life was sheer chaos when she got pregnant in 1970 and ended up accepting a free lunch from attorneys determined to legalize abortion in Texas and beyond. She was already mother to a daughter who was being raised by her mother. For her second baby she made an adoption plan. The lawyers who convinced her to be their poster child never made it clear to her that the lawsuit would not help her abort her third child because any ruling would come too late. That baby, the Roe baby, also grew up with an adoptive family. That child’s identity has never been known.
Norma often told me that she learned of the Roe v. Wade decision when the Dallas newspaper arrived on her doorstep. She later went to work at an abortion business but she told me she was always getting in trouble for asking the mothers if they really wanted an abortion or if other options might be available.
It was while working there that Norma first met Flip Benham. After her baptism, she declared herself “pro-life across the board.”
Three years later, in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Dallas, I sat next to her as she was received into the Catholic Church. When Father Frank Pavone placed oil on her forehead to call down the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it was an awe-inspiring moment I have never forgotten.
Norma asked me if I would accompany her on a weekend retreat at Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry that offers healing to mothers, father and other family members who have lost children to abortion. The tears Norma cried that weekend were genuine.
Recently on Priests for Life’s streaming television channels we broadcast archival interviews with Norma. They are insightful and wonderful to watch but they do not tell anywhere near the full story of her life, nor can this “documentary,” whose creator clearly had an agenda.
Apparently the film offers documentation that Norma was paid more than $450,000 by the pro-life movement but it’s important to remember that she worked in pro-life for 22 years and yes, it became her career. She worked for Operation Rescue for a time, and – like many pro-life leaders – she did speaking engagements for which she was compensated. Included in that sum might be plane tickets and hotel rooms and meals. Did the onion bagels count as a payoff?
Norma was exploited as a young woman by pro-abortion attorneys and she was exploited at the end of her life by this filmmaker and whoever was backing him financially. That breaks my heart but whatever she said in this documentary – or appeared to say through deceptive editing – does not shake my certainty that Norma’s desire to protect children in the womb was not an act.
If you’d like more information on Norma McCorvey, go to TruthAboutNorma.org