How Are We Feeling About The News That 'Jane Roe' Never Changed Her Mind About Abortion?
In 1969, 21-year-old Norma McCorvey became pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion. After an attempt to procure one either legally or illegally failed, she was referred by her adoption attorrney to attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who had been working to find an abortion case to bring to the Supreme Court. This became that case, and Norma McCorvey became Jane Roe. In 1973, the Supreme Court found in favor of Roe, and abortion was legalized.
It should have ended there, but it didn't — we are still fighting against forced birth fanatics with visions of wire hangers and women dying of sepsis dancing in their heads to keep abortion legal, which it may not be for long.
And for a long time, one of those fanatics was none other than Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe herself. Sort of. We guess.
McCorvey remained a pro-choice activist, and even worked in an abortion clinic, until 1995 when she met evangelical minister Flip Benham, a convicted stalker and anti-choice activist who swiftly claimed her for the other side. After that, she quit her job at the abortion clinic and joined up with abortion doctor murder advocacy organization Operation Rescue, of which Benham was then the director. She spent the rest of her years going to anti-choice rallies and talking about how deeply she regretted her decision, and even once tried to get Roe overturned on the grounds that she had changed her mind about abortion.
Anti-abortion fanatics were thrilled by this, and loved bringing up that Jane Roe herself was now in agreement with them, as if the rest of us were suddenly supposed to think, "Oh wow, guess we don't want reproductive rights after all!" or something in response.
However! In a deathbed confession featured in AKA Jane Roe, a documentary about her life premiering on FX on May 22, McCorvey reveals that she never changed her mind about abortion after all, and only did all of that pro-life stuff because Benham and others were paying her lots of money to do so.
Via LA Times:
"I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they'd put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That's what I'd say," she says in "AKA Jane Roe," which premieres Friday on FX. "It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress."
In what she describes as a "deathbed confession," a visibly ailing McCorvey restates her support for reproductive rights in colorful terms: "If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that's no skin off my ass. That's why they call it choice." [...]
The documentary includes scenes of McCorvey on election night 2016 — a few months before she died of heart failure at age 69 — expressing her support for Hillary Clinton. "I wish I knew how many abortions Donald Trump was responsible for," McCorvey muses. "I'm sure he's lost count, if he can count that high."
This confirms what many have suspected about McCorvey's conversion over the years, but it's hard to come up with an emotion other than "Yeah, figures."
I feel like we're supposed to feel smug or like this is some kind of big, final victory over Team Forced Birth. Like "Haha, deep down she always agreed with us!" or something. I don't. I keep trying to dig up some smugness about this, but it's not in me. Because if McCorvey really didn't oppose abortion, the fact that she let herself be a tool for anti-choice bullshit is absolutely disgusting. Like, really, fuck her.
Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for people who want their shitty behavior to be excused by what they feel "deep down." And I want to be all "Oh, she had a hard life and was taken advantage of by these people" and to some degree, sure. That's true. But also, fuck her.
Because regardless of this cute twist ending here with the "Surprise! She didn't hate abortion after all," her actions hurt people and emboldened people who were out to hurt others and take away their rights. She worked with an organization that advised and assisted Scott Roeder, the guy who murdered Dr. George Tiller, and the man who went around putting the faces of Dr. Tiller and other abortion doctors on "Wanted" posters. So, you know, fuck her.
It also seems that McCorvey, who identified as a lesbian for most of her life, left her longtime partner Connie Gonzalez — right after Gonzalez had a stroke, mind you — because of her "conversion" to Roman Catholicism, and became an "ex-gay." We don't know if she was paid to fake that as well, but if she was, fuck her.
I hope she was really happy with her money. Jeez.
But also, fuck the anti-abortion movement for being so scuzzy as to go out and pay people to "change their minds" about abortion. I guess that tells us everything we need to know about them and their sincerity. Who knows how many other people out there are getting paid to pretend to hate abortion?
Perhaps I will feel differently after watching the documentary, and I really do hope that is the case. I do have empathy for McCorvey, how hard her life was growing up, how she never felt quite embraced by the pro-choice movement, how she felt abandoned by her lawyers after Roe — I do. But I am far from being able to think "Wow, she really put one over on the anti-abortion crowd" because in the grand scheme of things, she helped them more than this confession will hurt. Plus they'll likely just ignore it and continue talking about how she converted like it's some big "gotcha." They're not exactly big on facts.
The bright side of this is that this is going to make Roe v. Wade, the upcoming rightwing anti-abortion movie starring Steve Guttenberg, Joey Lawrence, and Tomi Lahren, even more of a disaster than it already is.
So that is kind of satisfying. We can be smug about that, at least.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse