Norma McCorvey: Former Roe v. Wade Poster Woman Turned Pro-Life Advocate Dies at 69

Roe v. Wade McCorvey
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, is seen in 1990. (AP Photo)

The conversion of Norma McCorvey from a pro-choice activist to pro-life advocate is probably the most surprising of all the conversions. Jane Roe was a pseudonym for McCorvey, who was 22 at the time she linked arms with lawyers to take her plea for abortion rights all the way to the Supreme Court. McCorvey underwent a conversion in the 1990s, however, and turned into a Christian and a pro-life advocate. On Saturday, February 18, 2017, she passed away at the age of 69.

McCorvey’s death, brought on by heart ailment, was confirmed by journalist Joshua Prager, who was working on a book about the case. McCorvey was living at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Texas, when she passed away.

Brief History of the Case

MCorvey was pregnant for the third time in 1970 when she sought an abortion. She scoured the state of Texas trying to find a doctor who would perform an abortion on her, but the procedure was illegal at the time. Lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee filed the lawsuit for her, which eventually worked its way up the court system all the way to Supreme Court in 1973. At that point, McCorvey had already given birth and had given her child up for adoption.

What the Supreme Court decided in that landmark Roe v. Wade case was that a woman’s right to an abortion is a fundamental right under the Constitution.

Evolving Opinions

McCorvey became a Christian in the 1990s and renounced her position on abortion rights as well as the lesbian lifestyle she had been living. She channeled her energy into working for the pro-life group Operation Rescue. Speaking of her dramatic conversion, McCorvey said, “I’ll be serving the Lord and helping women save their babies. I will hold a pro-life position for the rest of my life.”

But McCorvey’s change of attitude on abortion is in contrast to the changing opinion of the public, which has grown favorable over the years following the Supreme Court ruling. While abortion is still a hotly debated issue, the general public has held its position in support of legal abortion over the last couple decades. As the chart below from Pew Research indicates, public opinion fluctuates from year to year.

As far as the church’s opinion is concerned, white evangelical protestants are among those most in favor of making abortion illegal.

McCorvey is survived by her daughter, Melissa, and two grandchildren. According to Prager, nothing is publicly known about the other two children to whom McCorvey gave birth and gave up for adoption.

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Megan Briggs
Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.